Climbing Up Mt Hood
PCT Mile Marker 2094.5, Miles Hiked 12, Timberline Lodge
Only 12 miles today but with no gas in the engine (translation – I didn’t sleep well last night), climbing a total of 4400+ feet in elevation went super slooooooowly. In the realm of 1mph for the AM climb. Sigh. On the other hand, the scenery continued to be spectacular today.
Anxiety can strike at the most inconvenient times and places. For me, it was 12:30am after I got back into my tent after watering the leaves. Instead of shutting my eyes and enjoying the warm night and sleep, I laid there worrying about all sorts of things, sparked off by the more immediate concern of the river ford first thing in the morning. If only I could magically switch my brain off!
I popped up awake and out of my tent at 5:45, and wasn’t really surprised to see Hemlock moving about as well (really, I saw her headlamp at that hour, not her!). We were packed up and at the Muddy Creek by 7. Skirt tucked up about my waist, and pack as waterproofed as possible, I waded in and was swiftly across – Hemlock encouraging me all the way. The ford was really not a big deal – no surprise slippery rocks and water just above my knees at the deepest part.
From the other side of the river, the log tree “bridge” looked much less intimidating, but I’m still glad we chose the ford option as being safer for us.
After we got dried off and changed into dry socks, we happily set off down the scenic Ramona Falls alternate, which parallels the PCT for 2 miles. We followed the babbling brook until the Falls, which surprised me how tall and impressive!
Within half a mile we had the only other ford in this section – of the Sandy River. It ended up being a non issue as there was a reasonable log bridge across a much less deep creek. A truly spectacular view of Mt Hood included!
Then….the climbing. And more climbing. And lovely autumn foliage along wonderfully constructed switchbacks. And more climbing – up 2000 feet in 3.5 miles. Not even AT-like but I was struggling. I stopped and ate “I just need more calories/fuel!” but unfortunately not – the legs were just tired and just wouldn’t go any faster. Oh well. I immediately began thinking of and obsessing over contingency plans – I’d give Hemlock the reservation # for the Lodge so she could go ahead and check in, if I absolutely had to I had enough food and water to camp out, etc etc.
Hiking down to the Zigzag River was a nice change of pace, but boy was the day heating up! We had a great southern view of what I think is Mt Jefferson, and the views on the switchbacks during the climb of the remaining 3 miles were lovely. Thankfully shaded 75% of the time, as it was hot in the sun, that’s for sure. I’ve definitely been gulping down the Gatorade the past 3 days in the summer-like conditions.
I made it to the Lodge just after 5 (when of course the store closed to pick up my resupply box), but checking in was swift and our “chalet” room of a bunk bed and shared bathrooms was perfect. Frankly, I think we’re one of the only folks on this floor in this wing! The bathrooms are great – there are several and each private with locks, shower and toilet. Frankly, even more convenient than a motel room since we didn’t have to share just 1 bathroom! We even have a sink in our room. This must be a great set-up for folks coming to ski in the winter months.
I’m clean and my clothes are clean, and I’m sleeping in a bed tonight. Bliss!
Gear minutiae: it is so much easier, and much more pleasant, to sew clean shorties under a real light, sitting up. Compared to laying in my tent, hoping I don’t puncture my inflatable sleeping pad with the needle, by the light of my headlamp.
Health update: cough is a bit worse again here at a dry 6000 feet, but nothing like it was. It was practically gone in the moist, lower, air the past few days. Blisters are almost nearly healed, and the larger shoes are most certainly the correct size. Feet, except for the regular “you’re going how many miles today?”are doing much better. Legs are a bit tired after the past few days but having a good night’s sleep and a Nero tomorrow out of here will undoubtedly help.