a journey of 2,652 miles
THE PACIFIC CREST TRAIL 2018
starts with a single step.
Miles 0. Timberline Lodge Camp to Cascade Locks.
And we have a new winner for the trail‘s worst night! Last night was awful, the wind kept howling all night, it has been constantly raining and we were really cold. It might not have been the best idea to sleep outside on almost 1900 meters above sea level in these conditions.
At least we can sleep in as the breakfast isn‘t served until 7.30am. It‘s really foggy outside the tent and the tent itself is completely wet inside out. We decide to let it stand while we go down to the hotel with the rest of our stuff where we are hoping to get some laundry done, or at least stuff everything in a dryer.
It feels like heaven to enter the hotel. It‘s nice and warm and cozy with lots of fireplaces. We would have loved to stay here last night but knowing it would knock us back about 230 USD we knew we couldn‘t. We inquire about doing laundry and are told that since we‘re not hotel guests we can‘t do laundry. This feels so discriminating! We wouldn‘t mind paying for it of course, but the receptionist remains firm on the subject even when hearing that everything we carry is soaked and we are really cold. This is heartbreaking. We are humans in need of warm clothes. How can she refuse us such a simple request?? It really hurts and just adds to the pain I am already feeling, increases the tight knot in my stomach even more.
There is nothing we can do about it right now. It‘s 7.30am and so we do what we do best - attack the breakfast buffet. The food is tasty and the company great, since the other hikers are all joining as well. It turns out they did get a ride to the lodge without any problems last night and decided to splurge on a hotel room. They ended up paying 30 USD each. This news doesn‘t make us feel better, as one can imagine. So yes, the breakfast is good but it‘s not the best we‘ve had. We don‘t actually know what the fuss is all about. I mean, they don‘t even serve bacon, so what kind of buffet is this??? Our lovely hiker friends offer us to shower in their room and do laundry with them. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!
But first we sit down in the lobby while we let our electronic devices charge. The weather hasn‘t changed. Or yes, it has. It‘s got worse. Rain has turned into snow. We are up on Mt Hood but there is nothing to see. No mountain peak, no views. I am feeling awful. I can‘t express just how bad I am feeling right now. Are we really supposed to get back out there and keep hiking in these conditions? It‘s 2.5 more days until Cascade Locks and the Washington border but I can‘t fathom how we‘re gonna get there when the weather stays like this and everything we carry is soaked through and through.
We both feel the same. We are at the very end of our powers. We should have been expecting this weather, and we have. But now that we are in it, we cannot deal with it. We cannot go back out there. We just can’t. It’s too much. The realization hits me. This is where we will finish the PCT. We already considered it yesterday and now we had time to sleep over it. It says to never quit on a bad day. So how many bad days justify quitting? Thinking seriously about quitting hurts just as much as thinking about the undoable hike that lies ahead of us. We are really at a loss about what to do. And that’s when we call our parents.
I talk to my mum which always helps. I soon start crying and she‘s listening and trying to offer advice. But obviously she‘s never been in a position of attempting to try and hike from Mexico to Canada. I know that she knows how much we’ve wanted this but she reminds me of our trip as a whole, in which the PCT is only the first leg of a long journey. She reminds me of how proud we can be about how far we HAVE made it. She says that whatever we decide, either way we have already achieved so much and ultimately, whatever we chose will be a good and justified decision. It‘s this classic first world problem, but it does weigh so heavily on us. My mum usually has the solution to every problem but she is right, this is a decision nobody can make but us.
Meanwhile Dario is on the phone to his parents and he is less emotional of course. But his dad grasps the desperation in his voice and understanding as he is, he goes over our options and makes us see that one of our issues right now is obviously a financial one. 1. We feel like we can‘t afford the lodge to stay here and think things over. 2. Another option we considered is taking a taxi to Cascade Locks and keep hiking north from there. It‘s 2.5 more days from here, but the weather forecast is a little bit better up there and BigBro is already there, urging us to get a ride so that we can go on together. It would take at least 1.5 days by public transport to get there, there are no Ubers or other carshare options and hitching from here is pretty much impossible. And a taxi is too expensive.
But Dario‘s dad is a big fan of our thruhike and has always been incredibly supportive of our crazy attempt to hike the PCT. „Whatever you need right now, I will pay for it. A night in the lodge, a taxi ride, whatever you need, I will pay for it.“ And as he offers us this we know that we can keep going. It does no longer have to be a decision between hiking out of Timberline Lodge today or quitting the trail. There are suddenly other options now. Options that will keep us on the trail. Christian is a real trail angel, and we will never forget this good deed with which he kept us on the trail. E riese Dankeschön Phads!!!
A night in the lodge sounds awesome, but the weather forecast doesn‘t sound great for the next days. Thus staying here for the night would only be a postponement of our problem. Going to Cascade Locks makes more sense. We call a car services company and get an offer for USD 100. It takes about 2.5 hours to get there, so we consider this a good deal. We have been in touch with BigBro throughout our crisis and he is so happy to hear that we might come to Cascade Locks today. He offers to look for accommodation while we confirm the taxi ride. It will arrive in 1.5 hours.
We feel so much better now. Heavy weight lifted off our shoulders. We had two boxes shipped to the Timberline Lodge which I go pick up while Dario goes back up to our tentsite to take down our tent. It‘s still totally wet of course. Then we go back downstairs and get our obligatory pictures taken with Johnny‘s axe from „The Shining“.
We go up to the bar and have a quick drink with our hiker friends who are still debating what they should do. Merman doesn‘t even have a rain jacket!!! And then our taxi arrives and we gladly leave this place. We will always remember the Timberline Lodge. Not because of the breakfast buffet, but because of the day we almost quit the PCT.
The ride is smooth, our driver is awesome and our mood has changed greatly. We reach Cascade Locks in no time and stop by the Post Office to pick up two more boxes containing new replacement pillows and a stuff sack from Sea-to-Summit. Awesome that this worked! Next stop is the Airbnb that BigBro booked. It‘s lovely! It‘s so so cozy and I never want to leave this place again! :-)
We go out to do a quick resupply for our next section to Trout Lake, get our laundry done while the rain is pouring down (but tomorrow should be better!) and after hitching in the rain for a long time have a lovely local give us a ride back to our place where Dario makes a delicious Spaghetti Bolognese dinner and we all share a bottle of red wine.
We are all freshly showered, our clothes are dry and clean. Our tent is drying in the bathroom, the apartment is warm and so comfortable. It‘s great to be reunited with BigBro. And just like that our last day in Oregon comes to an end. All‘s well again. What a day. With the best ending ever.