Day 66 - huckleberry mtn. Trail junction to timberline loDge
June 14 | SOBO Miles 532 - 555.7
We set off in the misty morning on a mission: Timberline Lodge or bust. There awaited the legendary hotel from “The Shining,” along with the promise of an all-you-can-eat buffet, and the bus that would take us to the town of Sandy where we would resupply at… you guessed it… Grocery Outlet!
We were closing in quickly on Mount Hood, who was at this point just showing off.
A 1000 foot climb awaited, which I powered through thanks to my newly purchased vanilla cappuccino powder and its 40mg of caffeine per serving.
The trail was breezy, green, and covered in soft pine needles–in short, perfect.
I came to the crossing of Sandy River and gulped a little as I checked out the sketchy roped log that I was meant to use to cross it. I got up and hummed “be not afraaaaid, I go before you alwaaaays,” and was across in no time.
On the other side I ran into Store Brand, who had suffered the misfortune of dropping his water bottle and filter into the river and watching them rush away. Ruthless. We checked out a short detour trail to Ramona Falls, where we took photos amongst the day hikers whose packs were larger than ours.
He got some clean water with my filter and was off. I then made the dumb rookie move of taking the PCT in the wrong direction away from the falls, resulting in me walking an extra 1.4 miles. Ugh.
I ran into Trashcan as I sputtered the (correct) way back and we forded a weird river before beginning a huuuuuge 3000 foot climb–one that would take us the final 9 miles to Timberline. It was 1PM. The last bus to Sandy would leave at 4:45.
I lost him quickly as my quads turned to string beans and I chugged Gatorade for dear life. Again, it was a hot one. The grade was unforgiving and I watched in envy at the few people I saw on their way down. I wished for an airlift.
It was a tough climb for my brain especially–I checked Guthook almost every 10 minutes to see how many feet of elevation and how many tenths of a mile I had traveled, constantly eyeing the clock to gauge whether I could finish the climb in time to make the bus.
On the way up, the trail opened up to a crazy gorge featuring a side of Hood that had about 30 waterfalls.
Shortly after that, I caught the guys at a water source. They thought we wouldn’t be able to make the bus. I was of a different opinion. As soon as they heard that challenge, the race was on. We were leaping across snow fields and sprinting downhills to make time. It was 3:30 and we had 3 miles and 1200 more feet to go up.
Trashcan and I lost Store Brand in our aggressive downhill run, thinking he was ahead. I took a wrong turn at the confusing 4-way Paradise Junction and had to backtrack maybe .2 miles to the correct course. Then we got lost again trying to cross Zigzag River, which was an evil maze of rocks not unlike good old Mission Creek back near Big Bear.
When we had finally navigated our way out of there, we began climbing (including over a sketchy snowbridge that sent Trashcan into a deep posthole) and only then did we see Store Brand across the cliff still on his way down to the river… he’d gotten lost too. Not a winning navigational day for the team, but we were still in the game with less than an hour to spare.
We beasted up the unholy steep climb, but around 4:15 the dudes yelled back to me the message to abort the mission so we didn’t kill ourselves and sabotage our next day of hiking. We would try to hitch to town instead of racing for the bus. It was over… or so it seemed.
At that point I let go completely as they churned ahead and the full force of my fatigue set in. I lugged my way across the final snow fields of the day at a snail’s pace, my final mile taking me over 30 minutes to complete.
The Timberline ski lifts were a welcome sight, albeit eerie.
And then I saw the famous sprawling resort.
My phone lit up with a text from Store Brand right as I started to descend: Trashcan had MADE THE BUS, sprinting after it as it pulled away from the lodge and making it by the hair of his chinny chin chin. He took one for the team and hauled back 5 days’ worth of groceries for all three of us, having only 20 minutes to shop in order to make the last return bus. He came through like a champ (with an impressive selection and variety of groceries to boot). It was a miracle. Meanwhile Store Brand and I sat around like lodge bums charging our phones and drying our gear out on the patio as we snacked.
After Trashcan returned triumphantly and the food was sorted, we chilled in the lodge lobby until 10, at which point we shuffled out to a nearby grove of pines to set up our tents. We bedded down to the sweet sounds of snow cats beeping as they prepared the mountain for the following day of skiing and as we prepared to pass out.