Miles: 18.62
Camping: PCT Mile 2119.70

Karma and I woke up with the sun, both of us excited about the breakfast that we knew was on the horizon. We packed up quickly and began the 6 mile journey up the flanks of Mt.Hood. It was some steep climbing for the morning, but I really do like getting the blood flowing first thing. Better earlier than later, though I knew there would be more on the end of the day as well. As I got closer to Timberline Lodge I began to see Mt.Hood poking his head through the clouds, and I smiled to myself with delight to be hiking up my home mountain. I have spent so much time over the last few years hiking and backpacking in this area, that to be here on this journey is interesting. It’s hard to describe outside of using the word surreal, which I feel like I use a lot … but it is certainly the way it feels.

Timberline Lodge is a place I’ve visited in the past, and have even snowboarded down the slopes in the winter time. It’s a historic hotel, the outside of which was used in the filming of “The Shining.” I’ve never eaten there and that made today that much more special. As I descended on the parking lot someone yelled, “Dust Bunny!!” It was String Cheese, who was walking across the parking lot with Angles. I hadn’t seen them since we left Crater Lake so it was a happy reunion. We said our hellos and quickly found our way to the buffet. In the dining room I was greeted with so many familiar faces. So many friends that I thought I had lost along the trail were sitting at one long table in the center of the room. I was filled with joy to see them again, and felt comforted to know that I hadn’t lost any ground in my off trail hiatus. We all sat and dined on a fabulous breakfast: eggs, waffles, fritatta, ham, sausage, fruit, yogurt, potatoes, smoothies and coffee. I filled up 2 plates right away and got to work at a table full of my friends from the trail.

After feasting we all congregated in the lobby and decided to take a group picture with the mountain in the background. There was going to be a music festival of sorts so a lot of hikers were fixing to stay and participate in that. I wanted to get to hiking though, having had ample time off already. I took off on my own and craved the sanctuary of the trail…but was unfortunately greeted with a mass of people headed in my direction. Being Labor Day, there were many people finishing up their own hiking adventure on the mountain. They were all walking in the opposite direction than me, and I had to stop to let people pass seemingly every 5-10 minutes. It was a bit frustrating, as I wasn’t making my usual pace and I wanted to be alone on the trail. It is difficult living in a place that loves the outdoors so much, and yet, I’d live nowhere else. This is part of why I love Oregon so much!

Hikers reunite at Timberline

Eventually, I was walking so fast away from the crowds, I looked around and found I wasn’t even on the trail any more. I had somehow wandered into a patch of blueberry bushes and had to figure out how to get back to the trail. I was so focused on getting away from people I put myself down a steep hill that I now had to find my way back up. It was a bit of an ordeal, fighting bushes I didn’t remember fighting on my way down, but eventually was back where I belonged. This soon led to another difficult river crossing. This time I stood on the shore and carefully looked up and down the river for the safest option. Someone had laid some long branches across the water, and it seemed the best bet for me at that time. I debated on waiting for someone else to come along but felt like I could muster up the confidence to make the crossing. There was one point where I stumbled and fell forward, but was lucky enough that when I put my trekking pole down to catch myself, that it actually caught on something instead of plunging into the raging water. It got the adrenaline running full force, so when I made it across the river, instead of crying I hiked like I’ve never hiked before. I was going so fast and I felt so good. I made great progress across the terrain I’ve hiked in the past, including a small detour to Ramona Falls. Ramona Falls is an iconic waterfall that my phone camera did no justice to. I have tacked on a photo I took in the past for your viewing pleasure.

I came upon Doc, Karaoke, Dimples and SnakeCharmer in a large camping spot, and they invited me to join them for a fire. I politely declined though, as I was really feeling the need for solitude. I had been around a lot of people over the last few days so I needed some time to re-calibrate myself to my surroundings, especially here in my own backyard. I found a spot only half a mile from my friends, so I will see them tomorrow. In the meantime, I am happy to be on my own, ready for a good night of sleep. Until tomorrow.

Karma and I eat the breakfast buffet
Timberline Lodge with Mt. Jefferson in the distance