Rushing Creek to Mile 2094.5 – 8 miles
Falling asleep the previous evening I knew that my campsite was at about 5,500 feet and Timberline Lodge, where I’d enjoy a fresh buffet breakfast, was at 6,000. I also knew that it was about 5.5 miles away. What I failed to acknowledge was the terrain in between.
I was awake early and out of camp before 7 am. I was on a mission to get to the popular breakfast buffet in the historic lodge. As I made my way along the first mile or so of trail I realised that the mountain was going to make me earn my breakfast.
I first had a steep 700 foot descent down an eroded canyon slope to the Zigzag River followed by a steep switchbacking climb up the other side. I crossed two more (less steep) river-eroded canyons and still had a mile or so of gradual uphill.
I was grateful when the trail finally levelled enough for me to catch my breath, with only half a mile to go to breakfast. I cheered when I caught sight of the ski hill and again when I saw the soaring rafters of Timberline Lodge.
I was in the door just before 9:00, which would give me well over an hour to enjoy the buffet. I rinsed off the trail dust and sat down to my delicious and leisurely breakfast. The ambiance of the old lodge, the excellent service, and the incredible variety of food made the morning’s challenges dissipate. After my calorie-filled meal I called my family and caught up. It was nice to hear their voices, especially Sherpa’s.
Next up was dealing with my resupply. I moved to the ski lodge and picked up my box from the lift ticket desk. Everything got dumped out onto a table and then was squared away into my Ursack food bag. Another pair of thru-hikers joined me while I was working on this task. They had started in Campo in April and had flipped around a bit to avoid the late-season snow. It was nice to be social with some other hikers!
I didn’t have to rush back on the trail so I went back to sit in the Great Room of the Lodge. I’d visited Timberline Lodge the previous spring and had looked forward to returning and spending some time around the beautiful fireplace. I ordered a beer and caught up on some social media under the watchful eye of the mountain.
I’d given myself a four o’clock deadline to get moving. I was relaxed, refreshed and ready to get moving again. I strapped on my much heavier pack and rejoined the PCT just above the lodge.
I hiked for about two and a half miles, descending the entire way. Mount Hood disappeared quickly from my view as the terrain changed from sandy mountain trail to thick alpine forest. My campsite for the night was 1,200 feet lower than the lodge near a burbling creek in the forest. In some ways it was a relief to be away from the busy and noisy tourist lodges, but I was camping alone again and was missing the comfort of companions. I hoped to meet some other southbound thru-hikers soon!