Day 149: Zig-zagging Along Mount Hood’s Treeline
Thursday, August 16, 2018 6:29 pm
Location: Muddy Fork Sandy River (2109.0 miles)

Not particularly in a hurry this morning, I got up after 8 o’clock. Surprisingly stiff, I made my way downstairs to Timberline Lodge‘s dining room, where the breakfast buffet was in progress.

The food in the buffet was pretty good, and very reasonably priced, but I really wish I could have gotten up an hour earlier and eaten more food, pacing myself over a longer period of time. I started off with three large plates of food, and just barely was able to eat all of it.

Amid repacking my pack, I started to come up with a plan for resupply in Washington, which was complicated by the fact I’d be arriving in town — Cascade Locks — on the weekend. Ultimately, I decided that, because of the fires, I wasn’t going to try and do my entire Washington resupply from Cascade Locks. Instead, I’d just get enough to get to Packwood, about 150 miles from Cascade Locks, and figure the rest out then.

I checked out of my room, and with it nearing “lunchtime”, I went to the Wy’east Lodge adjacent to the hotel and got a burger there. I also picked up two Pop Tarts packs from a vending machine, ensuring I’d have enough food to make it to Cascade Locks. While i ate, a chipmunk roamed the seating area, looking for food dropped on the floor.

While eating, I called the USPS, trying to find out what was up with my bounce box in Bend. (It was still showing as “out for delivery”.) The agent I talked to wasn’t able to do anything, but said they’d look further into the matter.

Around noon, I finally made my way back to the trail. After a very brief climb, the trail headed downhill to the Zigzag river. Just before the river, I passed the 2100 mile marker. The trail was mostly exposed during this section.

Mount Hood
Mount Hood

After crossing the river, the trail climbed again, passing through an annoying obstacle course of fallen trees. Aside from that, it was a relatively uneventful climb up three miles, to a trail junction, where I took a break.

Zigzag River
Zigzag River

The trail continued downhill for the next five miles, crossing the Sandy River via a few sketchy logs, and dropping down to the Muddy Fork Sandy River. Continuing to follow the Timberline Trail around the western side of Mount Hood, the trail weaved in and out of forest for most of the day, only staying in forest for an extended time after crossing the Sandy River.

Mount Hood and Waterfall
Mount Hood and WaterfallA waterfall, right of center, fueled by melting glaciers on Mount Hood, seemingly appears from nowhere, pours down the mountain, and disappears back into the folds in the terrain.

The Muddy Fork, likely named because of its very silty waters, has a fairly interesting river crossing. Two trees had fallen across the river, and on top of each other. A rope was attached to the top log, and one crossed by inching along the bottom log while using the top log and rope for support.

By this time, it was almost 6 pm, and I was looking to stop for the day. Only 12 miles in, this was pretty short, but the next campsite was nine miles ahead. (If I had hiked until sunset, I probably could have gotten there, but would not have enjoyed it very much.) There were a couple of campsites on the south side of the river that were already taken, and two a tenth of a mile north of the river that were mentioned in my guide; a backpacker out with his family at the river also said there was a campsite (and better water) via a short side trail just across the river.

I looked at that campsite, but it wasn’t really a campsite, so much as a wide area on an old alignment of the PCT. But, that turned out to be much better than the two sites mentioned in the guide, which were not flat, nor level, with tree roots exposed. (They once would have been good places to put a tent, but clearly the ground had eroded away.)

Camping on a “trail” was not what I wanted to do, but, with few other choices available, I returned to that side trail and did just that. The trail had been clearly blocked off shortly beyond where I put my tent, so I wasn’t worried about people trying to hike past, though a few people did go past my tent to get at a clear water creek that fed into the very silty Muddy Fork.

Pretty tired, and after having two reasonably large meals earlier today, I decided to skip cooking dinner, and to just have snacks. This probably won’t be the best idea for happy hiking tomorrow, but I simply didn’t have the mental energy to cook food today.