A zero day in hiker terminology means zero hiking miles on the trail. So today I got to sleep in a little later – like 7am. Timberline Lodge is known among PCT hikers for its all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet so I took definitely took advantage of that opportunity. I also picked up my resupply box that I had mailed to myself care of the Lodge.
I only have forty-six trail miles left to reach the Oregon-Washington border at Cascade Locks. I was planning on needing two days to get there so I organized my food, checked all my gear and worked on this blog. Unfortunately the wifi at the Lodge was not very good so I wasn’t able to upload photos and post any updates.☹️
My only option was to head back to the bar, enjoy another beer (or two 🤣), rest, relax and enjoy Mt. Hood.
I slept well last night and was up at 6am this morning. Today I would hike to the Timberline Lodge which is below Mt. Hood. The 1980 movie “The Shining” starring Jack Nicholson used the Timberline Lodge for the external location of the mythical hotel Overlook Hotel.
Soon after I started hiking I enjoyed my best view yet of Mt. Hood, the tallest and best known mountain in Oregon.
An hour later, I had an even better view of the mountain and particularly enjoyed the large meadow in the foreground.
I crossed Highway 26 – a major paved road with a nearby trailhead that had pit toilets and picnic tables!
I already had a room reservation for tomorrow night at the Timberline Lodge but not for tonight. I noticed I had cell service so I called the lodge and was lucky enough to secure the last room for tonight. Yippee!! Tomorrow will be a zero day – my first of this year’s hike!
Soon I entered the Mt. Hood Wilderness
as the trail continued through the forest towards Mt. Hood.
Flower of the Day:
This plant is called Common Beargrass and is frequently seen along the Oregon PCT. Common Beargrass is a perennial with three foot long grass-like stems and tall fluffy flowers. It is one of the first plants to regrow after a wildfire. Apparently it gets its name because young bears enjoy eating the grassy stems.
Later in the morning I crossed Barlow Road
Shortly after noon I made my final approach up a sandy, beach-like trail to the Timberline Lodge. Note the Common Beargrass along the trail.
Soon I had my first view of the Timberline Lodge.
A little after 1:00 pm I was checking in at the registration desk in the lobby. Luckily my room was ready so I deposited my backpack into my room and went directly to the bar for a beer and lunch.
Later that evening I went outside and enjoyed the beauty of Mt. Hood as the last rays of the setting sun brightened the uppermost peak.
I also took notice of a plaque mounted outside the entrance to the Timberline Lodge.
The Timberline Lodge is a National Historic Landmark and was built and furnished by local artisans during the Great Depression of the 1930’s. It was dedicated in September 1937 by President Franklin Roosevelt.
There is also a ski resort at the Timberline Lodge and, interestingly, it generally has the longest skiing and snowboarding season in the United States – usually twelve months a year. I did see skiers and snowboarders as well as other PCT hikers – an interesting and unusual combination.
Last night I spent the night with my good friends Tom and Karen in their beautiful house in West Linn (near Portland). I was fed well. I enjoyed some good wine. I took a shower (actually two). I did my laundry. We had good conversation. We watched some Olympics. And did I mention that I was fed well? It was a little bit of heaven after being on the trail for over two weeks. Thanks so much Tom and Karen – you are great friends and I appreciate your help so much.
Tom had a flight today at midday so Karen and I took him to the airport and then Karen drove me one and a half hours back to the trail. How great is that?
I was back on the trail today at 2pm at mile 2074. I left the trail yesterday at mile 2028. So I missed 46 miles of the trail. 21 miles are officially closed because of the big Lionshead fire last year. The remaining 24 miles are open but they are very remote and difficult to access on a paved road. Starting at mile 2074 was the most practical solution for me under the circumstances.
The trail started in a dense forest on a very smooth well-traveled trail.
I passed by Timothy Lake which has several campgrounds as well as designated dispersed camping. I self-registered for a dispersed camping permit,
but ended up hiking past Timothy Lake and didn’t need the permit.
Often near trailheads or areas where there is easy public access there will be signs reminding everybody that the PCT is only open to hikers and equestrians. It’s not open to mountain bikers or motorized vehicles.
Timothy Lake is a big lake.
With a beautiful marshy meadow at the end where the creek outflows from the lake. There were a few Canadian Geese.
The trail continues in the forest after passing the lake. Soon there is a short cutoff trail to Little Crater Lake, a spring fed pond that is a crystal clear icy 34 degrees as well as forty-five deep.
Early in the evening I reached a campsite in the forest next to a natural spring. I set up my tent, enjoyed a freeze-dried dinner and enjoyed a different “little bit of heaven” by myself in northern Oregon.
This morning I had the best sunrise (so far) of this year’s hike. I had camped just south of Mt. Jefferson and had a great view to the east.
In August 2020 there was a large fire just north of Mt. Jefferson called the Lionshead Fire. Because of that fire, about twenty-one miles of the PCT are closed starting at mile 2028. The trail reopens at mile 2049. The problem is that mile 2049 is very remote and only accessible via dirt roads. As mentioned in my last post, many hikers are exiting at the highway at Santiam Pass (mile 2001) and skipping forward to Timberline Lodge (mile 2098) or Cascade Locks (mile 2148) at the Oregon-Washington border. That’s a lot of skipped miles! My plan was to hike up to the southern closure at mile 2028 and then get back on the trail as close as possible to the northern reopening at mile 2049.
My good friends Tom and Karen, who recently moved to the Portland area, had agreed to pick me up at the Lake Pamelia trailhead. Luckily, this trailhead is a short three mile side-trail hike from where the closure starts (mile 2028). It’s awesome to have my own personal Trail Angels. Thanks Tom and Karen!!!
So this morning I was back on the trail a little after 6am and had over four hours to hike the seven PCT miles plus the three side-trail miles. EZPZ.
As has become an everyday event this year on the Oregon PCT there are trail obstacles. Today was no different. I would guess that I’ve gone over, under or around several hundred downed trees blocking the trail this year!
I passed a couple pretty lakes.
And then was back into the forest
Then I passed a Search and Rescue Team of about a dozen guys. All they told me is that a Mt. Jefferson climber had been missing since Friday – today was Monday. I came to find out later that someone had seen this climber fall while attempting to climb Mt. Jefferson. When I checked the search and rescue status a week later I learned that they never found the body and had called off the search.
Flower of the Day:
Red Elderberry is a common sight along the trail in Oregon. It is hard to miss these bright red berries along the side of the trail. But don’t eat these berries, they are poisonous to humans and will cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea!
Occasionally I pass these old PCT signs and wonder how old they are and when they were placed along the trail. Thirty years ago? Forty? Fifty? The PCT was named a National Scenic Trail by Congress in 1968 so some of these signs are pretty old.
I reached the Pamelia Lake side-trail at approximately 9am.
An hour later I was at the trailhead. Tom and Karen (and their dog Glen) were there waiting for me. A few hours later I was at their amazingly beautiful home, had showered, had clothes in the laundry, was enjoying a beer (and later some great wine) and later enjoyed a delicious dinner.
Prologue: I apologize for the delay in posting these updates to my hike – uploading this many photos requires strong Wifi – most of the little towns I’ve been passing through don’t seem to have that capability. ☹️
PCT Mile 1999 – 2021
Miles Hiked = 22
I was on the trail before 6am again. I had about 2 miles until I crossed Highway 20 at Santiam Pass, a major road that links western Oregon with Sisters and Bend to the east. Before I reached the road I passed the 2000 mile marker.
The sun was rising as I walked through the quite forest
Soon I could see Three Fingered Jack in the distance. My goal this morning was to hike around the west (left) side – the trail would slowly gain 1700 feet in altitude over the next seven miles.
There is a trailhead just past the highway. I was hoping for a water cache but no such luck. But there was a pit toilet so I was once again a happy hiker!
Many, if not most, PCT hikers are exiting the trail at Santiam Pass (this highway) because the trail is closed in twenty-eight miles due to last year’s Lionshead Fire. Exiting now (at this highway) makes sense for most thru-hikers because there are more opportunities for bus-rides, shuttles or hitchhiking around the closure. I’ve made arrangements with my good friends Tom and Karen who live near Portland to pick me up at the Pamelia Lake Trailhead which is near the official closure. Thanks Tom and Karen!
As I started my climb I soon entered the Mount Jefferson Wilderness.
And then I had a good look back at Mt. Washington which I had passed yesterday. You can also see the Sisters in the distance to the left of Mt. Washington.
Most of the morning hike up to Three Fingered Jack was through a burn zone
Flower of the Day:
This flower is called a Scarlet Gilia, also know as Scarlet Trumpet of Scarlet Skyrocket. It is a perennial wildflower that is common in North America. It is very common along the PCT and blooms in the summer and early fall and has trumpet-shaped flowers that attract hummingbirds, bees, butterflies and caterpillars.
I took a break in the morning and happened to have cellular service so I sent a “good morning” selfie to Donna.
Finally I got through the burn zone and re-entered the forest.
Then more great views to the south of Mt. Washington and the Three Sisters.
Three Fingered Jack was directly in front of me.
I walked across a small patch of snow – the first of the year.
Late in the morning I reached the northern side of Three Fingered Jack and enjoyed a different perspective of the jagged mountain.
I also had my best view yet of the next Cascade volcano to the north – Mt. Jefferson. I would spend my afternoon hiking towards this large mountain.
Mt. Jefferson is the second tallest mountain in Oregon – Mt. Hood is the tallest. As the trail descended after traversing around the western flank of Three Fingered Jack, I passed through another burn zone.
Later in the afternoon, as I approached Mt. Jefferson, I faced some challenges as the trail went up this ridge line.
As I reached the top, I had another view back at Three Fingered Jack and the Three Sisters
I collected water and had lunch at this beautiful little lake. As I went to collect water from the lake I surprised a water snake and it swam off wondering who the heck I was – unfortunately I didn’t have my camera☹️
I continued towards Mt. Jefferson
Late in the afternoon I was finally getting closer.
Finally I found a campsite below Mt. Jefferson – this was my view!
Today was a really good day on the trail with some great views. Thanks for following.
PS: Thanks very much for the comments – I really appreciate the feedback – it helps keep me motivated!
This morning I was up early and on the trail by 5:50am. I had about 7 miles to McKenzie Pass where the trail crosses Highway 242. This road leads east to Sisters and Bend. It was another beautiful morning and was quite warmer than the last two.
I’ve been seeing more wild flowers the last few days – maybe because there is more water???
Soon I had a view to the north. That’s Mt. Washington on the left, Three Fingered Jack in the middle and Mt. Jefferson on the right. I’ll go by them all in the next few days.
I passed a small pond
and then had a nice look back at North Sister – I passed by all Three Sisters yesterday.
As I got closer to McKenzie Pass I walked through another burn area. There always seems to be a lot of Dwarf Fireweed in these burn zones.
As I approached McKenzie Pass I took a short side-trail to Lava Lake Campground where I took advantage to the facilities – one of the great luxuries when thru-hiking!!!
I had a short road walk from the campground back to where the PCT crosses the highway. There is a lava-field observatory along the highway that people can visit.
I continued on to where the trail crosses the highway – thankfully there was a water cache! So I took what I needed. Thanks trail angel!!!
The next five to six miles are primarily through a giant lava rock field – it is huge. Walking on a trail of lava rocks is tricky and requires focus – I didn’t want to twist an ankle or fall down but I was most worried about destroying my trail runners, so I tried to step carefully. This wouldn’t be a good place to have a shoe disintegrate!
As I walked across the lava-rock field I had another nice view back at the Three Sisters.
Here’s a video of my view – hopefully it uploads to this blog
As I continued north on the PCT, I eventually got past the lava-rock field but I re-entered a burn zone.
The trail was traversing around the western side of Mt. Washington
I finally reached a side trail to the Big Lake Youth Camp (BLYC). In normal years, BLYC is very hiker friendly and accepts hiker resupply packages and supports PCT hikers with water supply, showers, laundry and meals. The last two summers, however, they have been closed to PCT hikers because of Covid.
They did still supply water via a water faucet, so I took advantage.
After collecting two liters of water from the water faucet at BLYC, I continued down the trail for a couple more miles and made camp near a pond.
I enjoyed my Rustic Cabin last night at Elk Lake Resort. As per usual this year, I was up at 5am and hiking out of the resort before 6. I had about a half mile road walk to the trailhead and then a 1.5 mile hike on a side trail to rejoin the PCT.
It was another cold morning – my thermometer read 37 degrees. I sent a good morning selfie to Donna.
After about two hours of hiking through the forest I had a view of Broken Top – it’s easy to see why it got its name!
A little later I had a view to the south – I could see the jagged peak of Mt. Thielsen that I had camped next to three nights ago. It looked a long ways away.
I hiked this section of the PCT a year ago with my granddaughter during a family VRBO-vacation in Bend (after I had ended my PCT hike in 2020). It was her first backpacking experience.
I was looking forward to hiking through the Three Sisters Wilderness again because it’s such a beautiful section of the Oregon PCT. The Three Sisters are three volcanos that are in very close proximity and are named South Sister, Middle Sister and North Sister. I begin to glimpse the South Sister.
I passed by a small lake
As I continued north on the PCT, I soon had unobstructed views of South Sister so I stopped in a shaded area, had a snack and enjoyed the view.
I continued north on the PCT
As I continued north through the Three Sisters Wilderness, I passed through meadows full of wildflowers
by beautiful streams of cold, fresh rushing mountain water
Burn zones full of dead, but somehow stately trees, trying to remain upright despite their horrific history.
And beautiful views of the one of the Three Sisters
Later in the afternoon, I passed by Obsidian Falls
Just above Obsidian Falls is Sister Spring that burbles ice-cold fresh clean water right out of the earth to create this stream and eventually the water falls.
Late in the afternoon I begin to have views to the north where I would hike in the next few days. I could see more jagged prominent peaks in my future.
As I begin to look for a place to camp, the trail turned a corner and headed up and over a medium-sized lava-rock hill
When I reached the top I had views of North Sister (left) and Middle Sister (middle).
Finally I found an area to camp that was close to another spring called Minnie Scott Spring
It was cold last night! I got so cold during the night that I had to put my puffy jacket on while in my sleeping bag. And I still never quite warmed up! In the morning I checked my thermometer.
But … I survived the night … and was up early again and ready to hike before 6am. I took some photos of the steam fog coming off Irish Lake – steam fog occurs when the water is warmer than the air above it.
For the first time this year, I started hiking with my beanie on my head, my puffy jacket on with the hood over my beanie and my buff pulled over my nose and mouth.
A few minutes after beginning today’s hike, Rex and I entered the Three Sisters Wilderness.
Today would be Rex’s last day on the trail – his hike was ending at Elk Lake Resort, where we would arrive later this afternoon.
We passed by several picturesque ponds and small lakes.
It warmed up once the sun rose above the treetops. We passed more lakes and a few meadows. There definitely seemed to be more water in this part of Oregon – also more mosquitos!
We made good time on the trail today primarily because there were not a lot of elevation gains.
1900 feet of elevation gains over twenty-two miles is not very much – most days it’s at least twice that amount and sometimes even more!
As we neared Elk Lake Resort we had a nice view of Broken Top Mountain (9177’) which is near the Three Sisters peaks and is a popular hiking and climbing destination outside of Bend, Oregon.
We arrived at Elk Lake Resort in the mid afternoon and went immediately to the restaurant.
After enjoying some food and drink, Rex was picked up by a friend from Bend to begin his journey home. I enjoyed having a hiking partner over the last week – tomorrow I will be back on the trail solo and continue my journey towards Canada.
After I left the restaurant, I picked up my resupply box and then checked in to my Rustic Cabin for the night.
Last night I camped at “Gimme Shelter” Cove. It was nice to have clean clothes again even if it’s only for a few hours. It was also awesome to have taken a shower, eaten a hamburger and enjoyed a couple beers. But it was time to get back on the trail. As the saying goes, “If you’re not moving forward, you’re not making progress”.
Today was a day to make miles so Rex and I were both up before 5am. It usually takes 45-60 minutes to tear down camp and get everything into the backpack. This morning we were leaving “Gimme” Shelter Cove at 5:45. We had about a one mile road and side trail walk before rejoining the PCT.
It was foggy this morning which was a change from the normal blue skies and sunshine. Shortly after reaching the trail there was a short side trail to an overlook of Odell Lake where “Gimme Shelter” Cove was located. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see anything except the fog.
It didn’t take long, however, for the fog to burn off. Soon we crossed over Highway 58 at Willamette Pass and reached Middle Rosary Lake where we collected and filtered water. The next water source would be in fourteen miles at Charlton Lake.
As I collected water a Mamma Duck and her Duckings kept a close eye on me.
The first seven miles were uphill and gained about 1500 feet. Rex is a strong hiker and sets a fast pace. I go at a little slower pace and slowly fall behind. As I neared the top, I had a nice view looking back at Odell Lake in the distance and Lower, Middle and North Rosary Lakes in the foreground.
Flower of the Day: A lot of the trees in this area have this light yellow mossy stuff that hangs from the branches.
Obviously this isn’t a flower – it’s actually a lichenized Fungi called Ramalinaceae and it occurs primarily on trees in temperate climates like Oregon that are windy, exposed and well-lit.
Finally after many miles walking through the forest on a smooth dirt trail including another 1500 for elevation gain
we reached our next water source at Charlton Lake.
Charlton Lake was near a trailhead off a paved road so we saw quite a few day-hikers and mountain bikers enjoying the area around the lake.
Later in the day, we hiked through another burn zone with hundreds of downed trees and more Dwarf Fireweed wildflowers.
As we reached the northern end of the burn zone we started to get views of The Three Sisters – three volcanos in close proximity to each other in central Oregon just west of Bend. They are named South, Middle and North Sister.
Late in the afternoon we reached Irish Lake where we found a nice campsite right on the edge of the lake.
We finally found some mosquitos, so I enjoyed the view from inside my tent.
My plan today was to hike to Shelter Cove Resort where showers, laundry and restaurant food would be available. I would also pick up the resupply box that I had mailed several weeks ago. A few days ago I had renamed the resort “Gimme Shelter” Cove in honor of the famous Rolling Stones song. I would play the opening riff here if I knew how to on this blog☹️, but I don’t.
I was still hiking with Rex and we were walking out of our campsite at Windigo Pass at 5:50am. It was a twenty mile walk to “Gimme Shelter” Cove.
Over the past few days Rex and I had learned about an alternate route from Windigo Pass. Many southbound hikers had recommended this route – it’s called the Oregon Skyline Trail (OST) and apparently used to be part of the original PCT. At some point the PCT had been re-routed to the current location. The alternate route was shorter (8 miles shorter!) with less elevation changes. It was also reported to be more scenic. Sounds good to me!
Windigo Pass is where the PCT crosses Forest Service Road 60 – a dirt road with very little traffic. In order to access the OST we walked about one-half mile east on this dirt road, found the trail and then resumed out northward trek.
Soon we passed a side trail to Nip & Tuck Lakes – I chuckled and wondered how and why these lakes got their name???
In a few hours the sun was high enough that the forest was brightened and the morning chill was gone.
We passed Ofdenburg Lake where there was a good campsite. We also passed several lovely lush-looking meadows.
After ten miles of mostly flat to slightly downhill hiking we arrived at Crescent Lake – a large lake accessible by paved roads and with multiple campgrounds. We headed to Whitefish Horse Camp where there were rumors of possible Trail Magic from the camp hosts!!!
Unfortunately … the camp hosts were out so we settled for potable water from a faucet, a picnic table to rest our bodies while we enjoyed a snack and …. a luxurious pit toilet🤣.
Soon we were back on the trail, disappointed that we hadn’t enjoyed any trail magic but now focused on reaching “Gimme Shelter” Cove where we knew there would be ice cold beer🍺.
We soon entered the Diamond Peak Wilderness and then passed Diamond View Lake with an impressive view of the peak.
Early in the afternoon, as we neared “Gimme Shelter” Cove, we hiked above Trapper Creek for a mile or two. It was the largest creek that I had seen since I started hiking over a week ago.
It wasn’t long before we reached “Gimme Shelter”Cove.
Shelter Cove Resort is a very nice little resort on the shores of Odell Lake. It has a camping and fishing store, a restaurant, a marina, a few cabins and quite a few RV campsites with full hook-ups.
The restaurant was closed until 3pm so I picked up my resupply package and took advantage of the laundry and shower facilities.
By then the restaurant was open
“Gimme Shelter” Cove is very hiker-friendly and has a designated area for PCT hikers to set up their tents. I was in my tent by hiker-midnight (9pm). Tomorrow would start early again and include a full day of hiking. At least my belly was full and I didn’t smell quite so bad.