June 14 (~05:40 – ~07:40) & June 15 (Zero day)
Barlow Pass – Timberline Lodge (5.0 mi / Total: 2097.4 mi)
Total PCT miles: 997.4
Weather: Still chilly in the morning. Windy at higher elevation. Sunny during the day.
I rise in the chilly, dark forest, and watch the rising sun and low hanging clouds in the distance. I wish I had better views, but I’m mostly stuck in the forest and as usual, the trail is going up.
This time it’s steep. I wasn’t expecting this, but I should’ve – I’m going up to a ski resort at Mt Hood. As I get higher the trail turns to sand and the trees disappear. A forceful wind keeps blowing sand in my face, and I walk so close to the snow-covered Mt Hood it almost seems fake. But all I care about is getting to the top and inside this building.
When I get close it takes a while to cross the snow and reach the entrance. The Lodge is an open building, and anyone can enter and walk around. I make my way up the stairs to the first floor, where I sit down in the spacious lounge, and charge my phone before heading to breakfast. I’ve been running out of power as well as food, and after a quick charge and cleaning myself up in the restroom, I go for breakfast.
After a short wait, I’m seated. I head straight for the waffle machine, oh how much I love this waffle machine. This time the batter is thick, and I add fresh strawberry jam and still half frozen raspberries, with cream and warm syrup. The frozen raspberries on the waffle prove to be the most delicious thing ever, and I go back to add more. I pick up a yoghurt-based berry smoothie and it’s so fresh and cold I keep pouring myself more. It’s absolutely wonderful. It’s exactly what I need. I get coffee, and after the waffle I try the hot food – the quiche is very good but I can’t finish all of it. I sit there until I’m told the buffet has ended and I’m the last person left, and I’m actually a little disappointed I didn’t manage eat more. What a breakfast.
I stay at the Lodge for a little longer. I stay in the lounge, then walk around the building, which is beautiful and a bit of a museum in itself. Then I take the shuttle bus into town, for just $2. I quickly realise Government Camp isn’t too exciting. It’s a real ski town – everybody looks like they are about to go skiing. I buy a coffee and try to find a place to stay. Everything is full, or too expensive. I check Sandy, a bigger town up the road which the same shuttle services, but it’s the same.
The only option left seems to be the Cascade Ski Club. It’s actually accommodation for members only but they allow PCT hikers to stay during summer. When I ring the bell, no one opens. I have to call the manager, who has one of the few members who’s actually in the building open up for me. I stay in a bunk for $40, but get the room to myself. It’s quiet – I guess it’s busy during winter. I do my laundry at the laundromat next door and the machines shallows most of my coins. I complain at the restaurant next to it, who own it, and the waitress is rude but gives me my coins back anyways. The next day, I decide to head for Sandy.
I don’t need all of these rest days, but I’m still waiting for snow to melt, so I can just as well take it easy while I’m on the trail, as opposed to being stranded in a city again after finishing this section. I take the early shuttle into town, and position myself in a café for the morning. When it’s about to close I walk the long stretch to Fred Meyer, my favourite supermarket, and get my resupply for the coming few days. It’s not a long section until Cascade Locks, so I buy way too much food and barely manage to fit it in my pack.
After an early dinner at Panda Express I get on the shuttle again, and go all the way back to Timberline Lodge. I don’t want to waste money on accommodation when I don’t need it, but it’s weird to arrive at the Lodge and a time when everyone else is leaving. The building is open until 11, so I sit around in the lounge, eat bits of the watermelon I brought until it gets dark, and then I head back to the trail.
Apparently, this is what hikers are known to do. The trail runs just a little north of the building, and there is an area with trees that hikers camp around. Usually there would be lots of people, but it’s early season to be in Oregon, so I’m alone. It feels odd to be there, setting up for a cowboy camp under the stars, when I can see all the lights and the cars around the Lodge nearby. I lie behind a tree, and when I try to sleep, headlamps appear, and a group of skiers is hiking up the snow-covered trail with all their gear just a few meters behind me. If they turned around, I’d be in full view. At midnight, it happens again. Luckily no one seems to spot me, and I drift off to sleep.