Mile reached: 2118.7 (+23.1)
High: The all you can eat buffet at the Timberline Lodge
Low: Saying goodbye to “Dunks”, Skipper, “Sherlock Holmes”, and “Watson”
For the past couple of days everyone had been dreaming of the all you can eat buffet at the Timberline Lodge. But, it didn’t open until 7:30, so there was no real rush in the morning especially since I was only a mile away. As a result, I laid curled up in my quilt just a little off the trail while his started to go by. Before too long, “Gandalf” appeared and intimated that I was lucky that I wasn’t still sleeping. After a brief conversation, he continued on, and I got on trail shortly thereafter.
The final mile to the lodge was over loose sand. People had been complaining about this for the past two days, but it turned out to be rather trivial. Within a few minutes I was in front of the Timberline Lodge with “Gandalf” and “Red Cross”, whom he had been hiking with for the past two days. “Extra Miles” appeared and explained how she had hitched all the way up. Then, a few minutes later “Watson” and “Skipper” walked up telling a story about how they had hitched to Government Camp and proceeded to get pissed. As soon as the restaurant opened, we made our way in and gorged ourselves on perhaps the best food on the trail. “Dunks” and “Sherlock Holmes” arrived a bit later, because they didn’t hitch and had to hike all the way up that morning.
After breakfast all of us spent the morning in the sun on a patio facing Mount Hood while various electronics charged. While we relaxed, a wedding took place just tens of feet away. Being hiker trash I was strongly tempted to snag a couple glasses of half consumed mimosas. Instead, we settled for overpriced beer. Since the four guys were planning on double zeroing in Portland, we hung out for the final time. Of interest, we all learned that “Skipper” was in fact not a trail name but his last name! We, of course, joked for a while about what his name should have been.
By early afternoon, it was time to go, and I said my final goodbye. Both due to the popularity of the area and the weekend, there were people everywhere on the PCT. The trail was almost a slalom for the first 10 miles out. I even had some dayhikers ask me if they could use my water filter. However, as soon as I crossed the last trailhead I saw no one else. I just had biting black flies and mosquitoes to keep me company. Since I had such a late start, my daily mileage was still pretty low, so I hiked until it was dark. Finally, I found a campsite near a spring on a ridge and raced to set up my tent as mosquitoes feasted.