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.
So excited for you!
And so looking forward to reading about your trip in the coming weeks – my little lunchtime ritual is back!
Fabulous start. Photos and penmanship are fantastic. So looking forward to seeing and reading the rest of the trip.
Thank you Jenny
It feels a bit unreal. We are waiting for someone to tap us on the shoulder and tell us it was all a big mistake and to go home.
Thank you Julia
It’s so good to be back here and hiking. It felt surreal at first but we are getting in the groove.
This is great!
Thank you Anna.
Loving following you both on this latest expedition- enjoy!!
Nice to have you along Sharon.
Welcome back to the Pacific Northwest!! I was hiking over in Washington or I would have texted you and given you a ride to the mountain!! Sounds like you had quite the travel adventure!! Laughed at your comment about hiker age — just got back from Scotland to do my first (and probably only!) long distance hike at age 75, the West Highland Way!! A paltry 96 miles!! But our mutual friend, Carolyn McAlear and I have done many sections of the PCT — we happened on Hammer (who gave us some appreciated advice) at Crest Camp in Washington the year that we started acting as trail angels for a day!! Wondered how the snow levels might be on Hood — we had a pretty deep snowpack that kept accumulating all through May! It’s warming up now, and should start melting off. Did notice on our hike yesterday in WA state that the trails were pretty overgrown. Hope that the PCT work crews have been out as you get further along to clear some of the growth! Anyhow, wishing you the best of luck on your journey! I think Carolyn is off to Santa Fe this week — she’ll be sorry that she missed you!
It is so nice to be back Andi. It still feels a bit unreal. We are almost expecting to be tapped on the shoulder and told to go back home.
Congratulations on your hike. Scotland would have been interesting. It’s good that you are not limited by other peoples expectations.
Hammer remembers you and Carolyn trail angeling in 2016. Much appreciated. Hammer was just rereading his blog post from 2016 and we were looking at the photo of the two of you just now.
We are hoping the snow melts fast. We plan to give it a go and be prepared to turn back if it feel it’s not safe to proceed. Fingers crossed the hot weather continues.
Hi Corky and Hammer, this is great to know your are back on PCT.
What a good idea to start from the famous Timberline Lodge.
I wish you all the best for this new adventure.
It is so good to be back Delta. Thank you for your kind words.
Sounds like a pretty wacky beginning to your trip! I can’t believe the driver of the Tesla was going that fast with you two in the vehicle! Have a wonderful hike and may the snow melt and the trails be clear! Onward!
It took me a while to realise the speed was not in kilometres. Thank you for your good wishes.