Today’s Miles: 11.1
Total Miles: 409.1
Frog Lake (Wapinitia Pass) to Timberline Lodge
Despite hearing raucous in the campground into the wee hours (there’s always that one camp), I slept well. I got up at my usual hour, and retrieved the bear bag. It was SO heavy, now with food for two people. Michelle gave us an avocado before leaving yesterday evening, so Carl and I had a feast for breakfast; Idahoan potato wraps in tortillas with cheese – such delicacies!
My headlamp died while I was in the outhouse last night – it was so dark. Luckily, we would be staying at Timberline Lodge tonight, and all the devices could be charged.
I was beyond EXCITED that Carl got us a room. I had booked one before starting my hike, but cancelled it when I was in Bend because several things were up in the air, and I wasn’t sure which night I would land at the lodge. I didn’t want to get stuck paying for a room I didn’t use.
I was hoping Carl would splurge on a room. I dropped some hints over the last few days, but said we didn’t “need” it. This morning as I packed up camp, I daydreamed about my shower just a few hours away.
We started heading back to the PCT around 8 a.m., stopping in the campground to throw trash away, use the facilities, and pump water from the spigot. Thankfully, we didn’t have to filter water out of that lake!
Heading to Barlow Pass, we saw several backpackers, all heading back to their cars after a weekend of fun. I asked a woman how crowded the Twin Lakes camps were, and she confirmed the spots were pretty much taken. The decision to just hunker down at Frog Lake last night was wise.
Arriving at Barlow Pass around 11:30 a.m., we snagged the one picnic table available (I love my picnic tables), and fueled up for our big climb ahead. I was worried about today’s hike on my feet because they were incredibly achy yesterday afternoon, but thankfully, they seemed fine so far.
This area is historically interesting, with the first wagon road over the Cascade Range built in 1845.
Not long after our break, we came to the Mt. Hood Highway (OR 35), which marks the PCT 400-mile point from the California border. WOW! My mileage is a bit higher because of side trips to campsites off trail, but this felt like another big accomplishment, and a reminder that I’m nearly done.
We began the serious climb to the lodge. It was a tough trek as we gained nearly 3,000 feet over 10 miles, even raining on us a little, which is funny, because it rains every single time I’m with Carl (minus southern Oregon).
Stopping at a little creek-side camp, we met a couple of ladies we would see several more times over the next few days. We had similar hiking patterns.
The next section of climb was really tough, but it was also one of the most amazing eye-popping landscapes. As we left the shelter of the forest, Mt. Hood burst into view, and we landed on the doorstep of Oregon’s highest volcano.
Between the wildflowers, and the impressive mountain, a silly grin was permanently fixed to my face the rest of the day.
Exposed on the ridge above treeline, with definite storm clouds in the air, we felt a sense of urgency to get to the lodge, but the going was slow as the trail turned soft and sandy. Backpacking across sand is very tiring.
After some time, I finally remembered I had my trekking poles, and those helped some. Despite the gray sky, I stopped to take loads of photos.
At one point, Mt. Jefferson came into view behind us, and it looked SO far away. I couldn’t believe I was up on that mountain just a few days ago. That sensation never tires.
I was giddy spotting Timberline Lodge. Standing at 6,000 ft elevation, the iconic landmark looks so grandiose, and since it was only 3 p.m., we would have the whole afternoon and evening to enjoy it.
Crossing a couple of creeks, and spotting waterfalls in the distance, we hiked the final mile.
We were greeted with a mixture of people up for the day, fellow backpackers (some thru-hikers, and some weekenders), and some tourists staying the night. It was a little weird going inside a building, but we had our masks, and there weren’t many people inside, making it easy to keep distance.
Now, on Day 12 without a shower, I was a tad self conscious walking indoors. Thankfully, our room was ready, and we went straight there. Getting a room was a definite splurge for us. It wasn’t inexpensive, but it was worth every penny.
There was something extra special about hiking to a dreamy night of luxury. It was a well-deserved treat, and Carl and I both have August birthdays, so we figured this was our birthday gift to each other.
The room was quaint, but fantastic. We had a wonderful view of Mt. Hood, and I took the very BEST shower of my entire life. That was by far, the longest stretch without a shower I have ever endured, (or those around me endured).
I could have stayed under the stream of water for hours, but we were hungry, and beer sounded like a fun afternoon activity.
Pleased to have clean clothes to put on for our lodge-style relaxing, we started charging all our devices before heading to the bar. Grabbing our 16 oz refreshments, we snagged two wooden adirondack chairs outside with a towering mountain view.
As I always do before embarking on the next leg of my hike, I started reading through my book to learn about the upcoming miles, consider water sources, and take note of any areas of concern I should have on my radar. As I started adding up the mileage, and comparing it to my itinerary, something was really off. I made a mistake.
After going back and forth, I realized I missed an ENTIRE day of hiking. The plan was to have a casual, easy three days down to the Columbia River, with low mileage so we could take our time. I realized we needed to factor FOUR days of hiking to accomplish a casual trek.
Oh No! Hadlie was watching Hux for us. She had a work schedule to keep, and I was supposed to leave on a family camping trip the VERY next day after completing the PCT (I just never slow down). So, adding a day wasn’t in the cards.
Now, instead of tomorrow being 11.9 miles, we needed to do 17.2. Basically, we had to add 11 miles over the stretch of the 3 days, which is totally doable, but put a wrinkle in our “casual” plan. I guess it’s amazing this was the only time I made a mistake in my itinerary. Poor Carl, he had some serious hiking coming up.
About half-way through our drinks, we made our way to the little cafe for food. We could tell a downpour was on the horizon, so we opted for an inside table, but right on the edge of the big open outside space, so we had a cover and fresh air – jackpot location! When the rain started pouring 20 minutes later, we were impressed with our forethought, as we watched all the outside folks make a run for it to inside tables.
We were pleasantly surprised the food was actually really good. After the rain subsided, we wandered – exploring all the nooks and crannies of the lodge. It really is such a unique place.
In the lodge museum room, the great berry debate was solved…mostly.
Our room came with free entrees at the restaurant, so we booked an 8 p.m. table, and got lucky with a window seat to watch the beautiful sunset. We felt like we needed to “dress up”…so I put on my least stained and ripped clothes I had with me.
We walked around a little more after dinner, hoping to see the stars, but the lights from the lodge were too bright for any descent stargazing. We went to bed at 10:30 p.m., and Carl was out right away, but my anxiousness crept in, and kept me awake until nearly 2 a.m.
It’s such a bummer when presented with the comfy bed and pillows, I can’t get to sleep. I guess my body and mind prefer the comfort of the hard ground on the trail now.
Did you miss the beginning of my Oregon PCT journey? Begin with Day 1: Here