PCT OR Section G

Oct. 17: A Fast, Motivated Climb

I slept in this morning for obvious reasons–my late bedtime and the continuing rain. When I finally emerged from my tent where I had been slowly and casually packing up, another hiker came down the trail, having survived the same mess the previous day but stopping even further back than me. I again apologized for being in the trail the log was blocking anyway.

It was after 11am by the time I started hiking again. After passing the one log that had stopped me the previous night, the trail was largely clear all the way down to Ramona Falls just a quarter mile away. There were many day hikers in the area. I went ahead and ate lunch right there near the falls before even truly getting started hiking.

I missed a turn where the side trail rejoined the PCT just above the falls and ended up walking nearly a mile north on the PCT by mistake. It wasn’t completely clear, but it was a sight better than the Timberline Trail. It was obvious Owl and Phoenix would have gotten to Timberline Lodge the previous day no problem. I passed a man collecting mushrooms in a bucket twice, confusing him a bit. He had the nature of the trail a bit confused in his mind and had contributed to my confusion when I passed him the first time.

Finally headed the right direction, I committed myself to top speed, hoping to complete the ten miles to Timberline Lodge by 6pm, when it was supposed to close. It was going to be tight, requiring maintenance of top speed uphill, running down hills where possible, and luck that the trail was mostly clear. And it was mostly uphill.

But it was a beautiful day and a beautiful bit of trail with only a dozen or so spots with trees blocking the trail. Even so, I was getting discouraged as 6pm got closer. I made it to the door at the lodge at just minutes before the deadline.

It turned out it wasn’t a deadline after all. Maybe it was the fact that it was a Saturday, but the Ram’s Head Bar on the second floor was wide open. So I got me a stout AND an incredible hot chocolate.

Annnnnd a root beer.

I watched the sun set from the windows of the nook. I saw some pictures on one guy’s phone of a pair of twins he’d seen earlier dressed in exactly the outfits the twins from Kubrick’s The Shining (which famously used exterior shots of Timberline Lodge as the exterior of its Overlook Hotel). The little girls involved in said photo shoot hopefully had absolutely no idea why they were being dressed in matching blue dresses and asked to stare unsmilingly into a camera.

While we’re on the subject of The Shining, I should mention that I saw a guy sitting at a desk near the entrance I used typing on a manual typewriter. I thought perhaps it was something the lodge put out for guests to mess around with, but I was wrong because by the time I had gotten my fill of the lodge’s strong cell service and went to leave, he had disappeared and so had the typewriter. But more on him in the next post.

The temperature had also plummeted and a fog was coming in. A wet night had been forecast for the mountain. All of the guests that had been hanging out on the patio had vanished. I stepped back inside to put on my pants, added my down puff, then went back out to pack up my pack and walk up the hill.

You see, although the Timberline Lodge will charge you $285 a night for a room, there is a free campsite for maybe half a dozen tents just up the hill beside the PCT, maybe a five minute walk away. Probably not where you would want to stay during the height of ski season, but it’s not exactly their mountain, so what could they do about it if you did?

Anyway, I needed to find said site. Luckily, I spotted the headlamp of a man headed up the hill. I asked him about it. He was already set up there and had stayed there on many occasions. I found a spot near his tent and tried to set up quickly as the wind blew in more fog that would thicken into rain. I cooked dinner in the vestibule under the closed flap of the rainfly and hoped the next day wouldn’t suck too badly. I knew it wasn’t going to be the most fun, but I had high hopes it would at least start and end well.

Total distance: 12 miles

Trail progress: 10 miles

The trail where I made camp the night before

Ramona Falls
Mt. Hood with a Fog Hat

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