Sunday, August 26, 2012

Da 127- Lunch with a Triple Crown-er

From mile 2089 to Timberline Lodge trail junction at mile 2107

Just before leaving camp I took a quick look at the trail profile with Portrait looking over my shoulder. We had about a half mile of mostly flat trail and then hiked up off the page. I ate my walking breakfast once we were underway-hiking uphill and eating doesn't work for me.

It was rather cloudy-great for the uphill, but not for views of Mount Hood. We had a few cloudy views of Hood-better than no views.  That mountain is huge. It made Shasta look small.

The miles didn't slide by as fast as yesterday. The ascent had a lot to do with that, and maybe the excitement of Timberline Lodge and breakfast the next morning. At lunch time we had only hiked eight miles, which didn't seem impressive like yesterday's 12. There was a road crossing there with a register. So many people are ahead of us now because of the detour. It was a little disheartening to look at all the names of people who passed us.

I rallied for lunch at the register because we were already sitting with our packs off. Portrait wanted to hike another 1.5 miles so we'd have less to hike after lunch. I put my pack on and we darted across the very busy road. We went into the woods a dozen feet and there was a little picnic area with a table and trash can with a path leading to a parking lot.

We were both so excited for the trash can. My trash bag since Sister's seemed huge-packed to the bursting point and heavy. We grinned at each other like we'd just won some prize. The trash can was almost overflowing with empty beer and soda cans-it seemed pretty clear that we had missed some kind of trail magic-but there were three fruit gummies on the ground near the information bulletin that we ate.

Trail magic lunch
This time when I rallied for lunch it worked-Portrait knows how much I love picnic tables. I settled in: shoes off, food bag out, lunch out, water handy. I had just started to eat when a women walked over from the parking lot with a man right behind her with a cooler. She called out "haven't I met you?  I'm Steady."  We had met her the day we left Shelter Cove. "I hope you haven't eaten too much lunch already," she told us while Steve set down the cooler. I assured her that while hiking I've never eaten too much lunch.

Like magicians they kept making food appear: sodas, Subway, chocolate cream pies (which I had been dreaming about a few days ago), Little Debbie snacks, fruit, chips, and two hiker boxes. I ate a six inch ham and cheese sub with two deserts and some fruit-perfect. We chatted about the trail-our hike and Steady's current hike and her thru-hike a few years ago.  She let slip that she had hiked the CDT so we peppered her with questions about her hike. The food was wonderful, but getting to eat lunch with a Triple Crown-er and ask questions really made it magic.

We left just after one-we wanted to get to Timberline early enough to get our boxes.  The trail continued on its way uphill and we followed it. We entered the Mount Hood National Forest and saw from their map that the lodge really was on the side of Hood. We met a southbounder, Leslie, and chatted with her for awhile. She seemed plucky and had a wonderful attitude and we wished her all the best on her hike.

We were making good time despite the uphill. Assuming the store that was holding our boxes did close at 7 and not earlier because it was Sunday it looked like we would make it with plenty of time. We stopped for a snack on the edge of a huge gully on the side of Hood. It was brisk there so we didn't stay long.

The trail started to leave the forest behind. The trees stood in tight little clumps-scared of the wind and snow. It was windy, too. The clouds had grown threatening, the air was cold, and the winds high.  It didn't seem like conditions that would make camping just 3.5 miles from Hood's summit very comfortable, or safe.

With the forest behind us we could finally really see Hood. We were close enough to really see the blueness of the glacier on Hood's side. It was incredible. We stopped and took about 100 pictures and I think I could have taken 100 more as the clouds changed. 

The trail became loose deep sand that was just as hard to slog through as the lava rocks of past had been. The sand had the added bonus of sandblasting my face when a few strong gust picked up. That went on for probably a mile until we reached a cluster of trees that had become the thru-hiker Timber Lodge. We decided that it would be a windy place to camp, but it was the best we'd seen. That settled we brought ourselves off trail 50 feet to the lodge.

The lodge was beautiful. Built in the 1930's to compliment the mountain it was perched upon. They did a good job back then. Inside the lodge was full of thick timber and stone work. And lots of windows. We watched the sun set from inside the lodge-fantasist display of pink even with a thick layer of clouds.

We stayed for a few hours enjoying the soft seats and being out of the wind and cold.  I know I didn't want to go back outside into the weather. It just seemed like a bad idea. 

When we did go back to the PCT it wasn't that bad. Sure, it was cold and there was wind, but neither was as bad as expected. Inside my tent it still flapped loudly like it hadn't done since the early days of the desert.

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