Welcome to Oregon!
Like always, it took us a long time to get out of town. In our defense, it got up to around 96°F, and we really didn't want to start the 8-mile climb out of Cascade Locks in that. It also was a little hazy out. Although we weren't worried about any fires at that time, you often hear about fires in the summer on the PCT.
The trail family set up in one of the restaurants in Cascade Locks. We didn't know it at the time, but this would be the last time all of us (TL, excluded, unfortunately, as she had already gone home for work from Trout Lake) would be in the same room.
If you talk to someone who has hiked the PCT, there's a chance they'll call Oregon flat. It's definitely not flat. But compared to Washington to the north and Northern California/the Sierra to the south, it is extremely flat. Because of this, the differing paces of our trail family members became very apparent, and this meant the end of our trail family hiking together.
Oregon was starting out beautifully, but solitary
This first stretch in Oregon felt a little lonely, as a result.
That first day, I didn't end up getting out of Cascade Locks until after dinner, so it was the first time on the trail I had to pull out my headlamp. I realized that night that I really disliked hiking in the dark. Luckily, I wouldn't have to do that regularly for another couple of months.
Finally leaving Cascade Locks
I also came to my first bit of trail magic, aside from Broken Toe's trail magic at Hart's Pass at the very beginning! Much of the PCT in Washington is very remote, so trail magic is rare. A woman and her daughter had set up there. The mother had been hiking sections of the PCT, while her daughter picked her up from the trail at various points to bring her back to civilization. I had planned to hike a little further, but when there's trail magic, I'm staying!
Thank you so much for the trail magic!
They had so much there. Burgers, tacos, Gatorade, Oreos, and even these amazing brownie creme sandwich cookies from Trader Joe's that I had become obsessed with before leaving for the trail. They even had a generator I could use to charge up some stuff.
Later that night, I did a little research on the Timberline Lodge, where I had sent a package, and realized that they only allow package pickups until 3:00 PM. I was 17 miles away from the Lodge, so I guess that meant I was waking up early the next day!
I booked it there the next morning. Mount Hood got super up close and personal, seeing as the Lodge is on the mountain. The trail got very crowded as I got closer to the Lodge, with many day-hikers around.
I can always tell when I'm close to a trailhead because I start meeting people who smell clean
I got to the Lodge with an hour and a half to spare, which I counted as a great victory for my little legs. I decided to hang out there for a while to charge up my stuff, and sit in the air-conditioned space because it was blazing hot outside.
Air-conditioning is a wonderful invention
I ended up chatting up a NOBO named Loc, who had done a continuous hike from the southern terminus. Impressive, because it meant he went through the Sierra in a very heavy snow year. Neither of us wanted to leave the cool shaded space, and it was really nice to have another hiker to talk to after losing my trail family.
He ended up doing one of the more impressive resupplies I saw on the trail. There isn't a store at the Timberline Lodge, so your options are to send a box or to raid the hiker box, where people can leave things they no longer want for other hikers to take. I watched his stuff while he went to the next building over to check it out, and he came back with an unopened bag of tortillas, a brand-new jar of Nutella, and more protein and energy bars than I had shipped to myself in my resupply box. Very well done.
Made it to Mount Hood!
Everyone talks about the all-you-can-eat buffet at Timberline as a must-see, but I asked if there was anything I could really eat there as someone who can't process dairy properly, and they said there wasn't. Fortunately for me, there was a pizza place in the Lodge that offered vegan cheese as an option, so there's every possibility I ate an entire 12-inch pizza by myself in one sitting.
Hiker hunger is real, guys.
I decided to stay at Timberline Lodge longer than I initially planned because I learned there was a 16-mile dry stretch starting about 2 and a half miles out from the Lodge. I didn't want to dry camp, so I knew I was only going to hike another 2 miles that day. Not going to lie; the air conditioning wasn't easy to walk out of. And it was time to start getting used to a heavier pack with all the water I was going to have to start carrying.