Lost Lake Jct to Rushing Creek – 16 miles
I wouldn’t say that I had a great night’s sleep, but I awoke the morning of my third day with a fresh perspective. I wanted to be on trail, I knew I was physically prepared, and a handful of small challenges wasn’t going to disrupt my mental state. I needed a mental trick and so decided to set myself mini goals for the day and not worry too much about how far or fast I got there.
First I had to choke down a green smoothie. I’d put this recipe together as an alternate to my protein & caffeine butt-kicking smoothie. I’d tried it out at home and thought it was okay but once out on trail it was less than appetizing. Some things were better left as is.
I could tell the mosquitoes were ready to swarm as soon as I got out of my tent so I made sure to get everything squared away before I faced them. Once on my feet I quickly stuffed my tent into my pack and hit the trail with a ProBar in hand.
I was decently stiff from the previous two days of hiking and took my time over the first few miles. My first goal for the day was a road junction where I’d stop and make my oatmeal breakfast. About half a mile back from the road I was treated to a grand view of Mount Hood. Inspiration to keep going.
After my second breakfast I had a big climb and then a ridge walk before my next goal – a trail junction. One trail at the junction led off towards a trailhead parking lodge and another to the Timberline Trail. I made sure to stick to the PCT.
Next up was a two mile descent through the forest. This seemed like a perfect time to listen to one of my audiobooks. I often put my earbuds in as a distraction through forested uphills and downhills.
Before I knew it I popped out at Muddy Fork creek. I crossed the creek on a wide log and then stopped for lunch. I noticed there were lots of day hikers passing by and realized that my next mini goal, Ramona Falls was a popular destination.
To reach the falls I took an alternate trail that paralleled the PCT. I got to hike alongside Ramona Creek under a high rock wall instead of high above the Sandy River. Ramona Falls were lovely and I particularly enjoyed feeling the cool spray of water. It was pretty crowded with day hikers so I didn’t stay too long. From the falls onward the PCT joined up with the Timberline Trail.
My next destination was a campsite on the other side of the Sandy River, about half a mile away. I wanted to get across the river before having a longer break. The Sandy River flows through a wide floodplain in a deep glacier-carved canyon and had a beautiful view of Mount Hood.
The river was flowing pretty strong in the early afternoon sun. The narrowest spot had a few narrow logs across it but the roaring water made me nervous. I spent a bit of time looking up and downstream for a safe option. When I noticed a hiker on the other bank, I hurried back to the log crossing. I would cross as long as I had a witness in case something went wrong. He crossed first and then I balanced and scooted my way across. We waved to each other and moseyed on.
A few minutes later I was sitting on my ground cloth with my shoes off and my stove heating water. My plan was to have my dinner meal and enjoy a bit of a rest. I had hiked twelve miles so far but I knew I could go a bit further.
My inspiration and ultimate goal for this section was Timberline Lodge which sits at 6,000 feet on the shoulder of Mount Hood. They have a calorie-filled breakfast buffet that is talked about by all PCT hikers. Where I relaxed near the Sandy River was at an elevation of about 3,350 feet. I had a big climb ahead, with most of the elevation gain occurring in the next three miles.
After a short nap to help digestion I was back on my feet. I put a podcast in my ears and started the climb. As I got higher I realized that I was a climbing a ridge between two deep river canyons, switchbacking from one side to the other. There were some amazing views of Mount Hood’s west face. One foot in front of the other, a consistent pace, and a bit of mental distraction helped me push through.
I started looking for a campsite after crossing a small creek flowing into a basin. Luckily enough I ended up in a beautiful spot on the edge of a tree-rimmed meadow and steps from an incredible view of the mountain.
It was wonderfully calm and quiet and I felt like the luckiest hiker to have found this great site. To top it all off, I was just over five miles from Timberline Lodge. Brunch would be my reward for a few solid days on trail.