June 16 (~09:15 – ~18:50)
Timberline Lodge – before Sentinel Peak (18.8 mi / Total: 2116.2 mi)
Total PCT miles: 1016.2
Weather: Sunny and warm again!
I wake up to the sun. I’m not in much of a hurry, although I realise I’d better pack up when a few day trippers enjoy the views from a lookout point just up the trail from me, and watch me cowboy camp in the bushes behind the fancy Lodge.
I’m tempted to go for the breakfast buffet again, but don’t feel like I really deserve or need it, and so I hike past, saying a final goodbye to that waffle machine in my head. I know there are two other thruhikers at the lodge right now, and I hope to meet them later. Crunchmaster and Smiles mentioned they were here on Instagram, and I couldn’t help but leave a message, something I would normally never do. There are so little northbound thruhikers out here, I felt like I couldn’t NOT send a message. They were just a few days behind me on this stretch and managed to get through the snow, unlike me. But I’d expected that – they seem a little more hardcore and comfortable in the snow than me.
I end up messaging with Crunchmaster throughout the morning, and before we’ve even met he’s invited me along to the Canadian border to southbound from there, after we’ve reached Cascade Locks. That was exactly my plan, although I hoped to wait for at least another week, to allow some more snow to melt. But starting with a few other hikers is tempting – I haven’t really felt like I’m thruhiking ever since I started flipping, as there just haven’t been any people around to get that sense of thruhiking community. Apparently Crunchmaster and Smiles have felt the same. They tell me to come in for breakfast, but I’m already on my way, and I pass the Lodge and the ski fields and slowly head out of Mt Hood’s snow.
It’s a popular area with day hikers and some pretty views, the mountainous sights all involving few trees and snow, some rock and even a waterfall cascading down in the distance. I meet a weekend hiker from Portland here, who chats with me and together we continue through the lush, jungle forest, green and lively. We both take the alternate route to Ramona Falls, a hugely popular trail with lots of day trippers. At the end we say goodbye and I continue along the PCT, alone in the quiet again.
Not long after I break, Crunchmaster catches up with me. Finally, another hiker! We chat as we speed through the forest, and enjoy a few views back onto Mt Hood or one of the other snowy peaks nearby, and the pink flowers that have begun to blossom right next to the trail. Crunchmaster tells me he’s been accumulating a bit of a following on YouTube and even people he’s never met recognise him on the trail. Just a few minutes later we pass the tentsite before Lolo Pass and someone yells, Crunch!
We both walk back, they are PCT hikers with some family who have parked up for the day. Crunchmaster has met them, actually, and I seem to pick up that they also managed to get past the Three Fingered Jack – but they climbed over the rocks instead.
We don’t stay long, but hike a few more miles and set up in a small spot, cowboy camping in the dark forest. Smiles arrives after some time, she also met the other hikers but they fed her, and gave her more food to bring to us. I let Crunchmaster have all of it, and I give him my tortilla chips as well. I have way too much food as it is. It’s nice to be camping with others for a change, and it’s even better to watch Smiles camp – she’s only got a sheet of Tyvek and a quilt to lie on. I can’t believe it, she doesn’t even have a pad and she’s comfortable. Her pack is so tiny it would barely fit my food bags. And then to remember in the desert people though I was lightweight…