Timberline (Day 1: Paradise Park)

paradise_parkFor the past few years, I’ve been wanting to hike the Timberline trail around Mt. Hood. This year my hiking buddy suggested that we do it. I was quick to agree, and so we made plans for a four day trip in late July. We had plenty of time to prep, so I made some minor adjustments to my meal plans and got all of my gear together. Then we set out with the plan of four roughly 10 mile days to loop around the mountain.

The first day started at the lodge, which was busy with summertime skiers and snowboarders. We had stopped for a hearty breakfast in town, so we made the customary bathroom breaks and final pack adjustments before hitting the trail.

We’ve hiked the section between the lodge and Paradise Park a few times before, so there wasn’t much surprise in the trail. It was a beautiful clear day though and the views were wonderful. Mt. Jefferson and the sisters were visible to the south. This section of trail has a reasonable amount of shade, but we both used hats and sunscreen to keep protected from that high altitude sun.

As the sun got higher and we approached Paradise Park, we became reacquainted with the biting flies that plagued our Burnt Lake hike a few weeks before. The heat brought out several species of fly, and though some were content to just drink our sweat and be annoying, there were others that pierced the skin and went for blood. We’d never had these kind of bug problems in previous years, so neither of us was carrying any kind of bug repellent. The flies rapidly became slave drivers, urging us on even when we wanted to rest.

We did brave the flies long enough to pause in Paradise Park and eat lunch. The food was welcome, but short. I sat on a rock and soaked up the heat, food in one hand, the other waving at the small cloud of flies that surrounded. Refreshed, we loaded up and started the descent that would get us to the Sandy. This is also where we made our first mistake of the trip.

The water sources up at the park were miserly, so we neglected to top off before heading down the ridge. What we weren’t remembering is that there really wouldn’t be any water until we got to the bottom. Once we realized that we didn’t have enough, it was too late to do much but press on. We were both dehydrated and miserable by the time we got to water and the flies dogged us the whole way.

By the water we drank our fill and loaded our bottles while the flies pestered. I took off my socks and forded the sandy in my Fivefingers. The cold water was bracing but not unpleasant. Another short stop after that and I dried my feet so that I could put socks and my spare shoes on.

I carried two pairs of Fivefingers on this trip so that I could have a pair for water crossings and always have dry pair available. It worked great and since they don’t weigh much, it was easy to clip them to my bag to dry out. I’ll definitely do this again.

The last bit of hiking to Ramona falls went quickly. We camped within earshot of the falls, setting up in stages and walking about to keep the flies from converging. Even then it was pretty annoying. The hollow around the falls was cool enough that the flies stayed away, so we ate there by the water. A hot bowl of ramen and it was time to hide in my tent and pass out. The next day would be all up hill.

[note: I had intended to include a little video journal that I recorded on the trail, but I’m lousy with things like that and it turned out terrible. Maybe next time.]