Woke up with a loud “bonk” on the top of the truck but once outside investigating, could find nothing. Perhaps it was a dream. Organized the pack, secured parking permission for the truck at the Visitor’s Center, and walked up to the main road in Cascade Locks. The cars started whizzing past again, and I began to wonder if I would have to walk the 20 miles to Hood River, where I would catch Hwy 35 south to Timberline Lodge at Mt. Hood. But just as I was passing a cross street an older white-haired woman (like me :)) pulled aside at the stop sign and I asked her if she was headed to Hood River. She said she was but first had to go the other direction to pick up her granddaughter. I said if I was still on the side of the road when she returned, I’d love a ride.
About 15 minutes later she came zooming up to me, honking her horn with a big smile. Her granddaughter was in her 30’s and I was introduced to her and her boyfriend as I climbed aboard. Velma, my new grandma friend, stepped on the gas and we were off, a little weavy down the highway as we talked and visited, but we all arrived safely and she dropped me off on Hwy 35 in a great location for the next ride.
Within 10 minutes a young mother and her teenage daughter picked me up and drove me to Parkdale. A few minutes later Jacques, a French-Italian from Maryland and Paris picked me up, and moments later he picked up another female hitchhiker, and we all enjoyed a great ride to Timberline Lodge, where immediately upon exiting his car I bumped into “FlyBy”! I couldn’t believe it! He was the Trail Angel at Elk River Resort that was handing out food, beer and hiking gear to fellow hikers.
Walking with FlyBy up to Timberline Lodge, I could see dozens of other PCT hikers around and many skiers leaving from a morning of skiing! There was one large square patch of snow up on the side of Mt. Hood that was being groomed and the lifts were operative and people were skiing! In the fourth week of August! Gotta love it!
Up at the Buffet area I bumped into “Fireman” and met a couple other hikers, and decided to partake of the Lunch Buffet, which looked delicious! Fireman had enjoyed the Breakfast Buffet and was waiting for the sandwiches that would be served after the Lunch Buffet was over before he got back up on the trail again. I found Jacques in the dining room, joined him at his table for lunch and enjoyed delightful conversation while eating yummy food! What a way to get started back out on the trail!
I had thought I’d hike about 9 miles that afternoon and get to a particular campsite mentioned in the guidebook, but I got a bit of a late start with all the visiting I was enjoying, so by the time I got started it was almost 4 p.m. Fireman and FlyBy had mentioned that Paradise Park, an area along the trail around Mt. Hood, should not be missed, and was only five or 6 miles. So I reset my evening destination for that area, and set out.
The first couple I met and visited with were from South Africa doing a day hike at Mt. Hood, and after delightful conversation we exchanged contact information and said farewells. Next along the trail was a quick meeting with “DrillSeargent” and “EagleEye” otherwise known as Mel and Mona, or M&M. Many other hikers passed and the trail was rather busy in the general Timberline Lodge area.
The views along the trail alternated between vast expansive vistas of the mountaintop or the surrounding distances, and tree encompassed meadows of many-colored flowers. Fresh water springs bubbled down mountainsides regularly along the trail, and most gorges had a large river cascading, sometimes with waterfalls. It was a breathtaking experience to round every corner of trail, as each new view was stunningly beautiful.
The flowers were unique – such brilliant colors. Some I’ve seen before and could remember names of, others were unfamiliar. I took tons of pictures, as usual, and by then Fireman caught up with me. We continued hiking together until we got to Paradise Park. The sun was getting low, so we set up our tents and enjoyed the last few rays of the day.
My traditional hiking dinner is a cup of Nile dehydrated soup followed by a cup of tea, generally Chamomile or Easy Now by Traditional Medicinals. This evening was the same, and very satisfying. I’ve found that I don’t eat much when my body is burning energy more vigorously and cleanly.
The direction in which I set up my tent was supposed to help me wake with the dawn’s first light. My tent door opened to the mountain top, and I was sideways to the mountain. For any of you who may go camping, let me assure you this is NOT a wise set-up, as I discovered in the middle of the night as the
wind roared down the mountain and slammed directly into my tent, bending my tent poles at extreme angles and practically lifting me off the ground. The only thing that held my free-standing Hubba by MSR that night was my pack and me. Ultimately, I had to break camp before dawn, very carefully packing up in the middle of the gale without getting blown away, emptying the moondust dirt from the
tent, sleeping bag, my eyes, mouth and nose, and being pushed out onto the trail from the gusts behind me before the sky had even begun to lighten. With my headlamp illuminating the trail in front of me, I headed out, wondering what type of Nature’s nightlife I might experience on my first ever full moon middle-of-the-night hike.