Finding Mount Hood on the Pacific Crest Trail
Waterfalls, grey days, and big peaks are the name of the game for our hiker's last few miles in Oregon.
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I finally glimpsed Mount Hood yesterday morning, the clouds dancing around it. But as I closed in on the Timberline Lodge’s famous breakfast buffet, the clouds closed in as well. By the time I did my resupply and got back on trail, the day was a grey, soggy mess. There was beauty in it, though, particularly at the two-mile-long Ramona Falls alternate. Waterfalls, to me, always take on a more ethereal beauty when the day itself isn’t all that pretty, and today was a great example of that.
Today seemed much like a continuation of yesterday’s grey, at least to start: There were a few times, walking out in the open on hillsides, that I felt more than a little pulled into the void. But once I started the Eagle Creek alternate, a 15.4 mile route that bypasses 19 miles of the PCT, my day became more about gawking than about trying to stay on trail.
It’s a steep descent down from the PCT to the creek itself, but once you reach Eagle Creek and begin to walk alongside it, there are waterfalls everywhere. And not just your normal creek waterfalls, although there are plenty of those, too: large waterfalls, that demand to be seen, heard, given attention.
Walking behind Tunnel Falls was one of the highlights of my hike. It was also worth the sharp and rocky trail we had to cover, though by the time I hit the Gorge Trail and made my way back to the PCT proper just outside of Cascade Locks, my feet were ready to be done for the day.
I’m tantalizingly close to Washington, which is just on the other side of the Columbia River, but I have a package here in Cascade Locks with a warmer sleeping bag in it. I arrived after the post office closed today, and it’s closed tomorrow as well, so I have an unplanned zero day in store for me. It worries me to spend yet another day standing still, but I’ll get to see an old friend who lives in Portland, catch up, shower, do laundry. And when I get back on track, I’ll be just a bit more than 500 miles from the finish line.