SAN FRANCISCO TO TIMBERLINE – WE ARE OFF
PCT Day 1: Thursday July 14, 2022
Timberline Lodge: At Mile 2098 + 6.6 miles today
Our day started with a 4am Tesla ride to San Francisco airport and ended at a campsite with a magnificent view of Mt Hood in Oregon.
We were excited, it was our first time in a Tesla. Our driver Luis loved to drive fast and play his music loud. With back windows open we definitely had the wild wind in our hair. At one stage Luis hit 98 miles per hour, that’s almost 160km/h. It felt effortless for the Tesla. But with the wind rushing through our hair we did not get to hear the purr of the Tesla with the pedal to the metal. It was a blast.
Forty minutes after leaving the hotel we were through security and at the boarding gate for our flight on Alaska Airline to Portland. Very smooth and efficient all around. I wish Alaska Airline flew to Sydney. Our plane for this relatively short trip was spacious and clean and with a friendly crew.
Once in Portland we did a couple of tram interchange trips to get us to REI to buy gas and a lighter for our stove, as we couldn’t fly with these items. While waiting for REI to open, we got breakfast. All that done we got the tram to Gresham and from there a bus to Sandy, a really cute small town.
From Sandy we got the Mt Hood/Timberline Lodge shuttle bus. We arrived around 2.30pm. Such efficient public transport and very inexpensive way to get to our destination.
Seeing Timberline Lodge felt a bit unreal. We were finally here. All the stress of things working out was behind us and we could just hike. We went inside the lodge to have a celebratory toast before we headed off. We both love this lodge. It has all the wonderful timber craftsmanship and so much atmosphere. I don’t know why I didn’t think of us staying here for the first night.
We stood out a bit amongst the day visitors inside and as you do we struck up a conversation with a couple at the table next to us. Deborah and Lawrence are really well travelled. They live locally for 6 months of the year, spending the rest of their time in Palm Springs. They are off to France and Spain in a couple of weeks. They could not believe we were doing this, at our age. They were probably of similar age, if not younger. Maybe we are deluded, that we are still in the youth of old age and this is something we can still do, we will see. The afternoon was getting away fast and we really wanted to hike some distance away from the lodge to pitch our tent. We said our goodbyes and were on trail by 3.30pm.
So excited to be finally underway. It was a beautiful blue sky day and very warm.
In no time we were back in the silence of the forest inhaling the sweet berry smell of the pines. I find it intoxicating, such a wonderful aroma that I will forever associate with this trail. Hammer took off leaving me in his dust. He was excited to be back and must have been reminiscing of his time here when he hiked alone. Maybe he forgot I was with him – wait for me. He did, mostly. I was slow. Stopping to close my eyes and smell the air, take pictures of big stuff and little stuff. Maybe we should have allowed more time.
It didn’t take long before we hit snow and then more snow. Our progress was slowed even further. Lucky that days are so long, with sunset around 8.45 tonight. We had a few creek crossings with one a bit tricky. It wasn’t particularly wide but it was flowing fast, swollen by snowmelt in the late afternoon. It took us a while to find a good spot to cross without getting wet feet or breaking a leg.
Almost 70 percent of the trail we hiked this afternoon was under snow. We have definitely underestimated how much snow was still around. I guess we will reassess as we head north. We have plenty of time.
As soon as we found a reasonably flat spot out of snow we called it a day. It was a bonus that the campspot came with the most incredible view at the base of Mt Hood with Mt St Helen’s prominent to the south.
We were thoroughly exhausted. Although the mileage covered doesn’t reflect how hard it was we were happy with our day considering where we started this morning.