Home Pacific Crest Trail PCT: A Pair of Lakes

PCT: A Pair of Lakes

by Lisa

Day 5 & 6
Timothy Lake & Clackamas Lake

My fifth day on trail in Oregon was a mostly uneventful eight-hour walk through the forest ending with a beautiful pair of lakes and a perfect campsite.

I was definitely getting better at my morning routine and was on the trail within about 50 minutes of waking up. My first few miles were all downhill to Barlow Pass. I had to cross the Mount Hood Highway, which wasn’t too busy because it was still early in the morning. The PCT then followed alongside a small section of the historic Barlow Road. The road was originally built in 1846 and was the last overland segment of the Oregon Trail to be completed. It was also one of the most harrowing sections, forcing travellers to choose between the expensive and equally dangerous boat trip over the rapids of the Columbia River Gorge or the slow and rough toll route over the shoulder of Mount Hood.

Crossing Mount Hood Highway near Barlow Pass

There was an empty trailhead parking lot near the old road where I sat for a few minutes to snack, rest and contemplate the many challenges that those early pioneers faced as they sought a better life in the agriculturally rich Pacific Northwest.

The next few miles passed quickly as I followed the gently inclined and wide forest path through to another trailhead. This trailhead was much busier as it provided access to the popular Frog Lake recreation area. I sat at a picnic table and made some oatmeal for my “second breakfast.” I also chatted with a couple day hikers

A valley view in the foothills of Mount Hood

I crossed another highway, this one much busier. The rest of the day I walked through a 50-foot wide band of forest, which include some old growth. Beyond the boundaries of the PCT easement lay stumps and debris from forestry clear-cutting.

The last mile of the day was the most interesting as I took a short detour to a crystal clear little lake called Little Crater Lake. The small lake is actually an artesian spring and was a beautiful sapphire-blue colour.

Crystal clear Little Crater Lake

Another mile along I reached the shores of Timothy Lake. The lake was created about 70 years ago when Portland General Electric build a dam. In the Pacific Northwest, electricity companies are required to provide and maintain recreational facilities around dammed lakes. Perhaps because of its proximity to Portland, I found that Timothy Lake had some of the best trails and facilities I’ve encountered. There were designated camping areas along the lakeshore and I was thrilled when I found a spot with a couple other southbound PCT hikers.

I had started hiking early and had moved well throughout the day. I’d covered about 17 miles over 8 hours and still felt good! My reward was extra time to relax at the lake. The weather was beautiful and I had a short swim and some time to lounge around in the sun. It was wonderful to be sharing a campsite with other hikers and I thoroughly enjoyed the social time. We even had a campfire!

Campsite view of Timothy Lake

The next morning was the first time I slept through to my alarm. When it went off I realised that I was feeling pretty tired and sore. I decided to roll over and sleep in. The other hikers were doing the same and we had an incredibly lazy morning. Eventually my stomach got me up but I still wasn’t in too much of a rush. After consulting my maps I decided I could have an easy, somewhat lazy day. The rest of the morning was spent in my tent reading and dozing.

I got moving just before noon, packed up my gear and had some lunch. One of the other hikers had a sore knee and they were planning to spend the rest of the day at the campsite. I was sorry to say goodbye, but hopeful that I’d see more hikers down the trail.

Trailhead signage south of Timothy Lake

My plan for the afternoon was pretty straightforward. I hiked a few flat miles along the shore of Timothy Lake, then a couple more miles through the forest to reach a junction to a nearby forest service campground. The half-mile side trail took me a nearly campground beside Clackamas Lake where I enjoyed the luxury of a picnic table, a spigot, and an outhouse.

That evening was really quiet and I tucked into bed while there was still light in the sky. My body was pretty happy to have had so much dedicated horizontal time which I knew would help me through the next big mile day.

Clackamas Lake

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