Day 139: Leaving Timberline

Staying at Timberline Lodge last night felt so good, and this morning, as you might imagine, we were in no hurry at all to leave. We woke up in a warm bed in a beautiful room in an incredible lodge, instead of a cold tent on a really windy mountainside outside. Perhaps best of all, we were prepared for what we’d heard many people describe as the “best breakfast on the PCT”, the famous Timberline breakfast buffet.

And…you know what? We were so not disappointed. We walked into the dining room in this beautiful 1930s lodge, sat at a table right next to our friends Treeman and Hedgehog, and were presented with a long, long list of all the delicious things we could enjoy. Tillamook Cheddar Eggs. Some kind of fancy, delicious sausage I don’t remember. Vanilla Bean Banana Pancakes. Fancy salami that you cut yourself using a ’30s-vintage meat slicer. (Fingers, beware!) Fresh pastries and muffins straight from the kitchen. Fresh fruit smoothies. It was…amazing, delicious, and there was as much as we wanted of it. We ate heartily, again and again, getting multiple refills of our decaf coffee and just watching the entire dining room.

While we were there, a long table of solo hikers — eight in all — suddenly burst into applause when the restaurant manager came over to their table. It took us a while to find out what had happened. Some guest of the hotel, who wanted to remain anonymous, had picked up the breakfast tab for that entire table of hikers! It was one of the most generous things I’d seen on the entire trail, and completely without seeking credit. (And, no, we weren’t jealous; the room we’d stayed in came with breakfast included, so there was no bill anyway.) As you might imagine, the hikers at that table were pretty ridiculously excited and appreciative.

After breakfast, we spent the rest of the morning and into early afternoon hanging around Timberline Lodge, relaxing a little, but primarily just wanting to see this amazing old building. I took so many photos and tried to explore every nook and cranny, from the vintage, heated-year-round swimming pool outside (with the lodge’s logo on the bottom) to the museum downstairs. It really is a fascinating and beautiful place, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. It isn’t cheap, but it’s so completely worth it to stay in a place that’s both architecturally stunning inside and in one of the world’s most beautiful places outside. Incredible.

Eventually, alas, we had to leave…as always with the PCT, the need to get to Canada before the snow does called us away. Hiking over the lower slopes of Mt. Hood isn’t exactly easy going: heading north means basically going over these enormous ripples of mountain, climbing a thousand feet, descending a thousand feet, and repeating, again and again.

Late in the evening, just before stopping, we took an alternate that took us to Ramona Falls, a spectacular waterfall that spreads out into many side-by-side streams across a ripple of black rock down a green hillside. It’s a beautiful place, and all the more so in the late-evening light; hiking through the nearby woods felt almost magical, as if a dwarf, elf, or faun should pop up around the next corner — it was all a bit like a children’s fantasy tale. Of course, this rapidly turned a bit more mundane when it actually got dark and we had to finish the last bit of our hike by headlamp, but…hey, you can’t have everything.

Tomorrow, we’re striking off north towards Cascade Locks, our final stop in Oregon, and right on the border with Washington. It’s kind of crazy to know that we’re almost at our very last state on this trip…I can’t believe we finally got here!

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