Day 114: mile 2088.5 – mile 2109.5

Elevation gain: 3,415 ft

Elevation loss: 4,998 ft

Town/food day is extremely motivating so we were walking by 6:40 this morning toward Timberline Lodge. Last night, just after 8pm, Turtle & Gnome showed up at our campsite! They were able to find a semi-flat spot just about 50 feet from us, but even closer to the trail. Good thing we would all be gone this morning before any other hikers needed to use the trail. We said goodbye to them because they weren’t quite ready, and continued our green tunnel walking. The huckleberry bushes were the tallest we’ve seen on the trail…it was so easy to just pick a few as we walked. We didn’t even need to stop!

The good news about the 9 miles to Timberline Lodge this morning was that the majority of it was uphill. This was good news for Link because he basically had no pain in his shin at all! We only had about 600 ft of loss, but 2,400 of gain. This was absolutely great for today, but during the next 49 miles to Cascade Locks/Washington we have over 11,000 ft of decent!! 😩 I’ll get back to that in a moment…as for the hike to Timberline, we were in the trees most of the time at first.

But then for the last 1.5 miles we were greeted with amazing views of giant Mt Hood right in front of us and even Mt Jefferson behind us! Unfortunately there are a ton of wildfires raging to the south of us and we could see all the smoke…these poor forests! But just like your worst nightmare, whenever we are most anxious to get somewhere on the PCT, they make us work our hardest for it. The entire last 1.5 miles was uphill and in deep sand…it felt like we were getting nowhere!

Mt Hood!
Mt Jefferson in the distance

We finally made it to Timberline Lodge at about 10:15, grabbed our resupply package and headed to the Cafe for a meal or 2. It’s amazing to me…this feeling of hunger that comes over me when a “real” meal is placed in front of my body. I had been thinking I wasn’t feeling all that starving this morning, actually. Then Link put down a fried chicken sandwich with spicy nacho cheese and jalapeños…and I was insatiable!! Man, that 10 seconds of eating was heavenly 😜

1st meal spot
2nd meal spot
Holy nachos!!

We then talked about our various options…should Link go directly to Cascade Locks from Timberline and I hike/camp by myself just for 2 days? I’ve never done that before but I feel like I could muster up the courage. One minor detail is that I’ve never set this Tarptent up by myself. 😳 Link and I each have our own jobs and that’s one I’ve never done. I’m either gathering the water, starting dinner and/or blowing up the mattress while he’s putting up the tent. I’m sure he could teach me, but I’d really rather not go without him and Link is DEFINITELY opposed to skipping any part of this trail! We also had the option of staying in Timberline for the night, then we either both get on the trail tomorrow or I go with Turtle/Gnome or Mantis/Pants while Link goes directly to Cascade Locks. At least we had options…but Link has been putting his magic PT fingers to work and he thinks he is finally seeing a light at the end of this painful tunnel!

We just hung out, ate and relaxed at The Lodge for about 3 hours. It was VERY tempting to stay the night, this place is gorgeous, yet historic at the same time. We needed to move on, but it was a great break, and Link decided his shin felt well enough to move on with me…YAY! I honestly couldn’t imagine him missing even one moment of our adventure together. I know I would’ve been miserable without him, but I also wanted to make sure I never had to see that look of pain and agony that was on his face yesterday afternoon! He assured me that with all the treatment he’s been doing to it, plus all the Aleve and KT tape, that he would be fine. Fingers crossed! So we hit the trail again at 1:30 and decided we would just play the distance we walked to camp by ear. I’m so glad he didn’t miss this afternoon of hiking because we saw some REALLY cool stuff! First, it was amazing views of Mt Hood from all directions as well as gorgeous wildflowers.

Deadman Fingers fungi

We also had great views toward Mt Jefferson as well as a beautiful waterfall.

Toward the end of the day we decided to take an alternate route, off the PCT, that many hikers take. It is a 2.2 mile loop to see Ramona Falls…WOW, what an amazing side trip! I’m super happy we decided to go see it because it really looks like a smaller version of Burney Falls…just as spectacular, only smaller. It was so lush and green during those 2 miles, moss was growing on everything and everywhere!

It was a little after 6:30 when we decided we shouldn’t push Link’s shin any further. Even though he said the pain had significantly decreased, we had just descended over 4,000 ft in 12 miles. So we set up camp along Muddy Fork and we are in the trees AGAIN. The good news is there are NO mosquitos! It’s so strange that we have seen fewer and fewer as we go north because our friends ahead said they were horrible just a week ago…perfect timing, I guess! I really hope we are able to camp on a ridge with some views again soon, but it’s supposed to rain tomorrow so that may not be the best choice. For now, I’m just SUPER happy to have my hiking buddy feeling better…looks like we may make it to Canada after all, folks! Thanks for joining us as we continue to attempt it…DoubleDown

One final River Crossing before camp