August 17, 2013
28 miles today
The lure of a breakfast without end sped awakenings and departures. Food, the great motivator of the masses. I forewent any formal breakfast and was the first to begin the climb to temple. The Timberline is located high on the slopes of Mount Hood. Famous as the setting for the film “The Shining” in PCT circles it is much better known for its three daily all you can eats. I zeroed in on the first one, shut off my brain and began grinding upward. A religious fervor undoubtedly shining in my eyes.
At first soft pine forests, then, progressively, the terrain turned raw. Great ash canyons carved by glacier melt took over. Stride shortened as I pushed up old ash dunes. Dancing waffles prevented rests. Altitude gave way. Over a rise and there was Mount Hood. It’s snowy peak belching clouds. A pivot and Mount Jefferson and the sisters rising up out of a gray inversion and my past. Volcano row. Where I had come from, where I was going. Around the bend and there she was. The Timberline, built in the depression by hungry craftsmen, before incompetency took over the architectural profession. It was a sight. A pilgrim to His Holy.
I was formally seated in the beamed cascade room despite the varied offenses of my appearance. My waiter long used to PCT refugees was to the point, “Please begin,” and I did. The beauty was it tasted better than my limited imagination had imagined. After two hours I threw in the napkin. Veggie, Orbit and Greenleaf soon thereafter waived their white napkins in surrender. Our waiter fist-bumped us in effort appreciation. A running group noticed our starvation and offered bags of leftover sandwiches. We gratefully accepted. Lunch secured, it was time for a waddle around the Lodge to look for moments of Shining.
Came upon the Waylo Room. Ping-pong table and piano beckoned. Veggie and I had it out on the table, while Orbit played a series of concertos for background. The game halted when she consented to play one of her original works written when she was forteen. It captured the angst and magic of that time like nothing I had ever heard. More waddling. Raided the abundant hiker box. Took an aperitif in the attic bar. Stalling. Finally ended up on the front patio adjacent to a 40-year class reunion. Seated in Adirondack of procrastination, we prepared for yet another goodbye. Veggie’s mother and sister will arrive tomorrow and he will take a few days of rest with them. Good hugs and off, but not. A sympathetic reunionite brought over two boxes and said “cram as much as you can in them from our private buffet.” I love the timberline meal plan. Happy 40th, you’re all looking good.
Loaded down with meals, our leaden waddles moved us slowly north, the path thick with day hikers. Ant skiers moved about the distant slopes in August. The PCT at this point was part of a 40-mile circumnavigation pilgrimage of Mount Hood. It followed a mountain base pattern of knife cut topography up a ridge, down the canyon and across a glacial melt till it chose to drop away. There we turned our backs on hood and headed down. A detour to Ramona Falls and her allure then a long slog up to a new ridgeline fueled by the 40-year lunch. If you’re up you must go down, as the PCT is never static. By the bottom my knees sounded like jake brakes on an 18-wheeler.
The final act in the timberline meal plan was held by a pass, Forest Road, in the unrealized hope that a passing motorist would be providing beverages. If it is a pass, dessert will involve ascent. Early in it we passed under massive power lines that crackled with effort. As a kid once I had carried a fluorescent tube under such lines and watched it light up. Stopped to photograph Hood in Alpine glow and then moved on quickly, a cancerous Pac-Man in hot pursuit.
The sky blackened, the terrain turned steep and flat campsites turned into an Iraq WMD search. The hike marched past its 9:30 deadline. Tired and slipping concentration brought on the stumbles. A known campsite lay an hour away. Gave up looking as each side forest search took the headlamp away from the path, resulting in slowing or stumbling. At 10:30 we joined a community of four others clustered on a cold ridgeline. Perhaps asleep before rolling out the bedroll.
On the Pacific Crest Trail
Hiking the PCT for the Kids of Escuela Verde
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