Jacob Leistra / "Game Boy" / PCT 2019

Day 102: Timberline Lodge (So Much Food)

Mile 2080.8 -> Mile 2097.4 -> Side trail in and out of Timberline Lodge -> Mile 2109.5

All things considered, I slept great last night. My hips are sore, my left shin is killing me, and it was a little cold. But I camped in peace, alone, without mosquitoes. And it was great.

I got going shortly after 6 AM, later than I wanted. Today is essentially all the way up to Timberline Lodge at the base of Mt. Hood, and then all the way down to a good campsite 12ish miles later. I started up the climb, got to a major highway (26 I think) and saw a trailhead across the road. I took the opportunity to not dig a cathole and then got shortly back on trail. Not even a tenth of a mile later I see four ladies with a full spread of food and goodies. “Hey, a thru hiker!” one yelled. Another immediately asked if I wanted a hot dog. Sure, why not? I was planning on hurrying to Timberline for food, but I love trail magic and I’m always eager to take advantage of it. Turns out it wasn’t just a hot dog: it was a jalapeno chicken sausage with chipotle remoulade. Damn, these ladies were doing it right.

I ended up staying an hour and seeing a familiar face (Yannick, a French guy I have been leapfrogging with for a few days) and a bunch of other hikers mostly going southbound. We all ate sausages, pastries, and other snacks while drinking beer and La Croix. It was amazing.

The organizer of the trail magic was a mom whose son did the trail in 2017. She wanted to do this for the moms of hikers this year, and it was really sweet chatting with her group. I got a photo with them all and I have some interesting thoughts about it.

I don’t really like this photo because it shows an area I’ve always been self-conscious of: my upper body “baby fat.” I’ve been chubby (or more) up there for as long as I can remember. I hated going to the beach or the pool as a kid because it would show off my love handles and man boobs. I still don’t like to take off my shirt for that reason, even if it’s a bit silly.

After 2100 miles of hiking, I have lean, strong, muscular legs that power me up and down the trail. I’ve lost a decent amount of weight (10ish pounds) despite the junk I eat (and the quantities of it). But my upper body is still chubby/flabby, and it still bothers me. I don’t really think it should, so I’m just not going to care anymore. I might not be able to do anything about it if burning 5000 calories a day while hiking won’t help. So I’m posting the above photo, even though I don’t find it flattering, because it’s the one photo I have of me and this experience, and I refuse to let my shallow self-esteem prevent the photo from being shared. And then I’m going to eat even more food and not worry about it.

(One lady also brought her puppy Sophie and she was adorable.)

The rest of the hike to Timberline was pleasant but hard. The last mile or so was in granite sand that reminded me of running in sand dunes. If you’ve never done that before, it’s because no one has ever really “run in sand dunes” before. You just wallow around and go barely faster than a walk while burning twice the calories. All the way up to the lodge I considered not eating at the buffet because I wasn’t really hungry, but in the end I decided to because… you just have to.

I met a guy named Mr. Oregon Man who was also looking for the buffet. I suggested we grab a table together and we chatted while waiting for a table. He’s a local Oregonian and a cool guy all around. He’s going southbound and finishing this section at Big Lake Youth Camp, so he’ll be done quite soon.

We were seated and began to dig in. I can say the buffet was definitely worth it. Tri tip, grilled chicken breast, multiple salads, creamy potato soup, grilled squash and zucchini, fingerling potatoes, dessert waffles and cookies/cakes/tarts/you name it. I had probably four or five plates of food and loved every bit of it. Mr. Oregon Man treated me to the buffet as his form of trail magic, which was awesome. Our full stomachs headed to a bar in am adjacent building.and I treated him to a beer.

I charged up my stuff and sat in the lodge while hating myself for eating that much. At 4 PM I decided to head out and get down trail.

Now I’m cowboy camping again and looking forward to being at the Washington border tomorrow evening.

Main Photo: The trail to Timberline Lodge with Mt. Hoody looming ahead on August 20.