After a well planned backpacking trip fell apart, I found myself at the US 26 / PCT junction Tuesday morning, July 16 with time until Friday noon to backpack the PCT just south of Mt. Hood. First, this is not the most exciting segment of the PCT – trees and more trees – the green tunnel. Second, this was ‘new’ PCT ground uncovered over the last few years – a ‘check-list’ hike to complete more of OR: PCT.
Day 1 started at US26 junction heading south on PCT, south past Timothy Lake (a huge lake with tons of people), onto the Warm Springs Reservation with a campsite at Warm Springs River.
Immediately south of US26, the PCT climbs up out of the pass with a quick look back at Mt Hood.
Before Warm Springs, Little Crater Lake is one those places that I had not seen – another visitor said it reminded her of Yellowstone National Park; it reminded me of the sinkholes in Yucatan Peninsula. Regardless, it was amazing and so weird (there is a campground a short distance away – USDA.
Once on the reservation, hard to tell difference in terrain, the trees just go on, and on, and on … in this section, there was a sign at forest road that I had not seen before.
Good clean cold water was at Warm Springs River, and I camped there for the first night – tent sites are on both side of the river, though the north side are better imho.
Day 2 was mostly a repeat of Day 1; started very early and caught some sunrise. The PCT crosses roads, forest roads, electrical lines, etc through this section.
Some hiker found too much free time at one of those roads.
Swinging back up to see Mt Hood, day 3 destination was right THERE!
The second night found my tent beside Lower Twin Lakes – a very, very busy camping spot – there were about 10 tents that first night scattered around the lake. Sunset brought in more clouds (it actually rained for <2 minutes that morning).
Day 3 dawned very early with a plan to hike up PCT to the Timberline Trail and head east (the opposite of last year) working to reach Clark or Newton Creek for lunch and then a return to Twin Lakes. This was the day to be out of the trees and on Hood’s shoulders.
On the way there, I was reminded of Hood’s history.
Going east on Timberline Tr there is first the White River to cross. This year only 2 cataracts and easy rock-hopping crossings; that was not the case the last time. Then, it’s around Mt Hood Meadows (Ski area) with the meadows just past wild flower peak.
I asked the couple if ‘ok’ to post their pic, as the perspective of flower height and density was just not the same without them in the pic. Water was also not an issue on this side; but the water around the ski area tasted metallic to me.
I stopped at Clark Creek for lunch and then turned around back to Twin Lakes for the night.
This is when things just went absolutely weird … a young couple took two trips with wheelbarrows from somewhere to the lake – they brought 4 wheelbarrows of gear, 6 goats, 6 dogs and a horse. Regardless to say, our neighbors were NOT happy with all the noise and unleashed dogs … words were exchanged – everybody left me alone for a good night’s sleep. I woke early next day and was at the car before sunrise.
Summary: the PCT between Mt Hood and Warm Springs River is BORING and very, very fast. I had not been on a cleaner, better maintained PCT segment all year. Several of us even discussed that with Farout and trails this easy … well, it’s just too easy. This was a ‘checklist’ hike for me … i now have walked up both sides of Mt Hood on the PCT and travelled around (Timberline Tr) 2x in 3 years. Little Crater Lake is amazing and worth the trip to see, but the rest of this section can be left for those thru hikers without a choice. Timberline Tr around Mt Hood Meadows is depressing – as it was probably just gorgeous before they build the resort.