Miles hiked: 24.8
Total Trip Mileage: 360.7
We wake up early today, eager to get on the trail and get to Timberline Lodge. A bed tonight! Dinner in a restaurant!
The green tunnel continues as we hike past Timothy Lake. We see the “designated” camping sites, and are glad we didn’t try to make it this far last night. At one point when crossing a road, we go under this lovely sign, which is a perfect photo-opp:
After about 6 miles we cross Crater Creek and I’m ready for a stop. Marc has a bee in his bonnet today. I think he’s really looking forward to the beer at Timberline. We fill up on some water, take a quick break and keep going. We blaze past Little Crater Lake without so much as a pause — I had kind of wanted to go check it out — and the spring and tentsite a few miles on.
The hiking conditions today are excellent. But I am not able to fully participate because my head is being assaulted by continuous messages emanating from my feet. The blister under my big toe is really hurting. Every step, I feel it. I try to ignore it, without success. The heel on my other foot feels hot and sore. Step — wince — step — wince. Marc keeps saying how great he feels, how great the trail is. Can we take a break? I ask. The only thing that keeps me going is the knowledge that there is a shower and a beer waiting for me at the end of this day.
We pass several southbounders, still full of optimism for the miles ahead, with beards that haven’t gone totally shaggy. I wonder if they’ll make it to Mexico. They tell us Washington is amazing and we should definitely do it next summer. After a long, long slog through the forest, we turn a corner and amble along a long flat section and what should we see in the distance but …
Mount Hood! That’s our destination, down there at the base of all that snow. Just a few more miles… We stop then, and sit and stare, eating Kind bars and dried mango. A family of backpackers overtake us and they’re equally taken by the view. It’s so nice to see something in the distance after all these miles of trees and more trees.
Spirits uplifted, we carry on. Only about 8 more miles to go! Piece of cake. After we cross highway 26, the trail starts heading uphill. But it’s a nice climb, the breeze keeps us cool. If it weren’t for my feet, I’d really be enjoying this. We pass the Twin Lakes trail junction, where I had originally planned that we head down to camp. After five miles or so, we cross highway 35, and keep climbing.
Just before we hit the next water source, which we don’t need and thus won’t stop to enjoy, despite my intense desire to remove my shoes and soak my feet in anything cool and wet, we run into — guess!! — Bright and Story! Again! They’ve been to Timberline and are hiking down to their car, which I think is at Timothy Lake. Full of cheer and encouragement, they tell us we’re nearly there. Only a couple of miles to go. I can do this.
Soon, indeed, we see the silhouette of the lodge in the distance. Motor vehicles! Buildings! But there is a vast chasm between us and it. We have to hike up and around the top of the gorge to reach anything. And then as we get closer, the trail turns into a sand dune. I tell Marc to go ahead and secure our room. Don’t wait for me. He takes a few pictures of me trudging through the sand and bounds off.
My mind is taken off the pain in my feet by the presence of the mountain. It’s a massive volcano, whose sandy sides are etched with gorges gouged by eons of running water. I am duly humbled.
This splendiferous view was worth all those miles hiking in the green tunnel. In fact, I’m sure I appreciate this ten times as much after the days we’ve spent looking at each others’ backs and the trunks of thousands of trees.
Finally, I reach the turnoff to the Lodge, and make my painful way down a steep path to the patio. Loads of people in clean clothing and small daypacks are wandering around, and I try my best to look like a gnarly PCT thruhiker.
Marc is on the patio, beer in hand, yammering with a few new best friends.
I decide that the first order of business is to get these shoes off my feet and take a shower. I will enjoy my beer so much more if I’m clean and my feet have been liberated.
Oh Man!! Oh Man! it feels SO good to shower! I let the water run over my head, through my hair. The white washcloth turns brown as I scrub away the dirt encrusted on my legs. I try to remove the duct tape from my feet. There’s a reason duct tape is useful and that’s because it sticks. Finally it’s mostly off, and I exit the shower. The blister under my toe is not a pretty sight.
Our room is small, lined in wood panels. It’s a historical lodge, after all. The price tag seems kind of steep given the tininess of the room but at this point I am so happy to be here, I don’t care.
I emerge and hobble down to join Marc and his pals on the patio. I have to present my ID upstairs at the bar, to verify that I’m not a teenager, and then I carry three beers down to the group. They all love Marc because he’s buying — as well he should, us being the rich old folks in this scenario. Someone is getting married so we hush up a bit and drink our beers.
Marc’s made a reservation at the restaurant, so at 6:30 we bid our buds a giddy goodbye and go in to eat. It’s a little more gourmet and pricey than I would have liked — bar food would have hit the spot a bit more, but honestly? I don’t care. Afterwards we hit the bar and watch the snowcats grooming the ski slope that’s still open on the face of the mountain while we eat a gooey dessert.
Afterwards, I get a sewing kit from the front desk and attack my blister with the needle. Its copious innards ooze out, and I apply antibiotic ointment and a bandaid and pray that my immune system will heal it overnight.
In the morning we’ll get our resupply box from the ski store, and I will pass along the somewhat rude message to Scott from James Healy that I’ve carried in my brain all the way from Sisters.
And, more importantly, in the morning we will partake of the legendary breakfast buffet, the one that is spoken of in hushed tones of awe all the way from Mexico to Canada. I hope we will be able to walk afterwards.