Timberline Trail CCW July 27-30, 2018

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Timberline Trail CCW July 27-30, 2018

Post by Kerraeb » August 2nd, 2018, 6:25 pm


- I chose CCW because of the 80+ degree days forecast at the end of my hike. I wanted to do them in the shade. And also, the idea of seeing fewer people appealed to me. There are ups and downs both ways.
- I’ve climbed more mountains this season than I have done long hikes. This was my first backpack trip since July 2017. In the past 3 months I’ve climbed Mt. Hood, Middle Sister (twice!), Mt. Baker, and Mt. Adams (just the previous weekend). I’m in good shape for elevation and anything that is a gorge hike-type switchback is categorized as “easy” in my head. The stretch from Lunch Counter to Pikers is “moderate”. What is “just walking up hill” for me may differ from someone who mostly does “hikes” v. “climbs.” I was carrying about 38lbs. (I like my luxury items!)
- Apparently I don’t scare easily? I was warned by a lot of people about river crossings that didn’t seem like a big deal to me. I’ve only been hiking for a few years and have done maybe made 3 sketchy river crossings ever before this trip. Only the Eliot crossing made me nervous. I found the rest to be pretty easy. There were either logs or rocks at each one. I never took my boots off to cross anything.
- This was my 6th backpacking trip ever. I started it last year and did 5, the 5th being the Loowit around St. Helens. All solo. The first night out last year I realized I had only set the tent up in my living room and had no idea how to attach the lines to the stakes! You figure it out along the way. I went to a couple of seminars and had expert people advising me, but I just decided to go for it. On this trip I realized that I don’t HAVE to have my head at the head end of my 1p tent! A “duh!” moment, but another example of realizing that everything isn’t a hard and fast rule. As a rule follower in general, this was a freeing thing!

Thursday, 430pm - Excited! Setting out on my own for a big birthday weekend backpacking trip around the very mountain I summited in April! Looking forward to the views, the solitude, and just being outside.
A hot, sandy walk from the climber’s lot at Timberline down to the White River. It was moving pretty fast and was ankle to knee deep. I walked downstream a few minutes to find a place I could cross without taking my boots off. Finding the trail again on the other side was a bit of a challenge, so I lost about 20 minutes trying to figure it out.
A lovely walk up through the trees to the Meadows ski area. There was a great campsite with a killer view of the mountain close to water on the far south side of Meadows. It would be a great place to rest and do a final push the next morning to the car if you are going clockwise.
There was a lot of water though the Meadows area all the way down to the Newton. Many campsites scattered around the Meadows area as well. Some visible, some semi-hidden in the trees.
I got to the Clark River around 7:50pm. It was moving, but not very deep. Finding rocks to cross on was easy. There were a couple of possible tent sites, but I wanted to press on to the Newton, since it was listed as a harder crossing and I still had lots of energy.

I got in to the Newton camp around 8:30pm. There were about 10 people on my side of the river and 4-6 on the Cloud Cap side. The water was high and deep. It looked a little scary. I made camp on the forested side instead of crossing. There were many camp sites on both sides of the river. There is a nice little stream for laundry and filtering water on the south side. I was across the stream from a marmot den, so I got to see and hear them a few times.
The Newton was loud and peaceful. A great way to fall asleep!

Friday, 9:50am - This is the latest I may have ever started on any trail! I slept so well with the river sounds and my tent was very shaded so even the sun didn’t rouse me too early. It was really glorious!. When I woke up at 730am my alpine start climbers brain kept telling me to hurry up and get moving because it was so late. I reminded myself that I didn’t have to be anywhere until Monday afternoon and sat down to watch the river instead. Excellent choice!

Crossing the Newton was fine. I put on my micro spikes just in case, but I don’t think I needed them. The logs were sturdy and the crossing was short. I even felt comfortable enough in the middle to stop for a picture!
The hike up to Gnarl Ridge was beautiful. Mostly wooded with not much water. I’ve never been to Gnarl Ridge. Wow! What a cool spot! I took a break here to eat and met two women who were section hiking the TT with plans to do the full loop for one of their birthdays in August. Again I got the “are you doing this alone?! I’m not that brave!” My standard response is always “you just have to DO it. It’s glorious!” I’ve never done a backpacking trip with anyone else before, so the wooded peace and solitude is all I know. And I like it.

There are campsites around the old shelter and a few more up on the ridge itself. It was getting hot (1230pm) and it was steady uphill. There were two small streams just below the ridge where I filtered and filled up, knowing there isn’t water at Cloud Cap right now. There were two small snow patches. They won’t last long.

Coming around the ridgeline and seeing Mt. Adams, where I had stood the previous weekend, stopped me in my tracks for a minute. I just stared at her in the distance, knowing there was probably quite the party happening on the summit at that moment. And more people slogging up that long steep pitch. I was glad I was on relatively flat ground and getting to enjoy looking at that slope from a distance.

The walk to Cloud Cap is the same as always. Open, dusty, and great views of the Eliot Glacier. I saw a lot more people in this section, as expected. Most were day hikers. It was hot- I used my hiking umbrella and I’m really glad I had it.

If you want to camp here, do it at Tilly Jane. There is a stream near the campground for filtering.

The switchbacks from CC to the Eliot River are just under a mile and about 500 ft. (It feels like two miles and 2000 feet at the end of a long hot day!)
I got down to the Eliot around 330pm. The river was raging. I saw a big log going to two rocks that looked easy to cross, but then there was a sloped scree walk back up to the switchbacky trail and my trip reports said 3 miles to a campsite. The sun had really zapped my energy and I looked back UP the hill toward Cloud Cap and debated returning to a known quantity or trudging 3 miles for a possible campsite. I knew my mom would not want me crossing this alone and I was guessing even my dad would have suggested I turn back, so I did. Back up that damned hill.

When I got back to Cloud Cap the women I met earlier shared their water with me, as one of their husbands had brought camping and cooking supplies. I felt like a “Real Backpacker” begging for water! 😊 I set up my tent and climbed in around 730pm. I expected the sun to wake me up early, but I slept until 530am.

Saturday, 6:45am- I got back down to the Eliot and saw a kid who had strung a hammock in the big trees near the river. What a great spot! There aren’t any camp spots near the river, but plenty of trees.
The river was still strong, but not as high. The rocks near the actual trail crossing were much more exposed and I could see a way across. I decided to go for it instead of using the big logs and walking on the scree slope below the huge teetering rocks. The first 10 feet or so were easy. The last 4 feet or so… a little freakier. The log I was on went *ALMOST* to the next rock. I was standing on the log with an inch or two of water running over my boots with the other leg on a rock. Making that leap took me a minute. The water was deep, so my poles weren’t much help until I got on the rock. Thankfully, I have really good balance. Once I made the leap to the rock, the next rock and the shore were easy steps. As I went to re-buckle my pack straps, I noticed that my hands were shaking and I was feeling a little dizzy. I stood there for a minute and let myself relax a bit. It’s not often that I’ve had heart pounding, hand shaking, wilderness situations. I play it pretty safe, too safe in some opinions. I’m really thankful for my agility and ability to balance!

There was a tiny campsite just after the crossing. Barely big enough for a 1p tent, but a campsite. Had I known this, I would have crossed the previous day. Oh well.

The slog up through the burn was strangely beautiful. I swear there were goat tracks going up the trail. I know there has been goat mythology on Hood for years, but these tracks were very clear and went most of the way up. They disappeared when the trail got more forested and stopped climbing relentlessly up.
The views from up there… wow.

A lovely creek for filtering after all of the uphill. There was a lot of water from here to the Sandy river. Some more filterable than others, but a lot of options.
After Cushman Creek there are indeed a few campsites. A couple are visible, and there were a couple of little trails off the main that I assume were also to campsites.

This whole stretch was full of great views. Hood, Rainier, Adams, St. Helens, all made a showing. Combined with the flowers, old burn areas, and trees, I took a lot of pictures here. The terrain wasn’t bad at all (for me). Some ups and downs, some open areas, some switchbacks. Nothing horribly strenuous.

Several people warned me about the Coe crossing. More than the Eliot! I was worried. Some people at the Cushman told me that they walked upstream to some cairns and waded through because they were afraid of the log crossing.
When I saw it I wasn’t sure what everyone was talking about. I was there at 10:45am and there was fast moving water, but it wasn’t more than shin deep in most places. And, there were great logs to cross! They weren’t even slick! There was a dog than ran across them like a champ (and two others who struggled a lot and almost pulled their idiot owner in!). Everyone was walking across them without issue. This crossing was fine. Even later in the day when the water would be rushing at/over the logs a little bit, it should be fine with poles. Or, walk up stream 60-90 seconds and wade through at the cairns.

The Elk Cove area was gorgeous. Relatively flat, flowers everywhere, beautiful little creeks, a rocky ridge, and the mountain looming over all. This is what I walk for. This is what clears the mind and soul of everything in our regular lives.

There was a sign for campsites. I didn’t check them out, but I hear there are a lot of them.

Above is this rocky ridge. Your mind thinks “I don’t have to go up that, do I?” Yes. The answer is ALWAYS yes. It’s not as bad when you’re on it though. There is a trail through the talus so you don’t even have to manoeuvre on rocks (which I like).

Going through Cairn Basin the terrain was still spectacular. The bugs really didn’t get too annoying until around what I think was the Ladd Creek crossing. It was easy to wade through or negotiate the rocks. People’s warnings about the bugs were spot on. There were lots of biting flies. If you stopped moving, they would descend. I stopped to grab my phone out of my pocket for a picture and before I could power up the camera I probably had 15-20 of them on me. If you keep moving it’s better. A face net and double layer sleeves and pants would be helpful. It was so hot, I sprayed Deet and used my burka hat and kept moving.

This is why I didn’t camp around Bald Mountain. I was in my 11th mile and my legs would have liked to rest, but I wanted to get away from those flies. A trip report mentioned 1 campsite on the south side of the Muddy Fork. I walked all the way down (a gentle downhill through the trees) hoping that one spot would be open. I expected to reach it around 3pm, so I thought my odds were good.

The Muddy Fork was rushing and the spot where earlier in the day it would have been an easy wade looked a bit deep. However, a 3-5 minute walk upstream was rewarded with a great double log crossing- one to walk on, one to lean on. I also picked up a pair of crocks a guy I met 10 miles ago had left behind so I could get them back to him.
I walked down the path, desperate for the campsite. I was sure it would be taken and I would start to cry. And there it was! Empty! All Mine! This spot is very exposed to the hot sun, but the view was incredible! Room for just a 2p or two 1p tents and a huge rock table to set my pack and stove on! And a minute further on a slightly silty but cold creek. After 14 miles, my feet enjoyed the water. I went back to camp and sat in my chair under the umbrella until I cooled down a bit. I probably went to the creek 4 more times. To get water, to rinse out a few days of stinky clothes, to wash my stinky self, and just enjoy not being hot. The rocks and bushes around this spot are great places to dry clothes!

There is at least one sweet little pika who lives in the rocks. He exchanged squeaks with me the whole time I was there. He poked his head out once, we made eye contact, and he left before I could get a picture.

Sunday, 9am- A nice walk through trees. A gentle downhill grade with multiple water sources and tons of huckle and salmon berries. Around one corner I started hearing a lot of people. Loud, whooping people. I was at Ramona Falls. Lots of people, trash, and noise. I filtered water and got the hell out.

The Sandy River crossing was easy too! There were logs to walk on and the distance is less than 10 feet. I was there around 1130am. Water was moving but not very deep. A trail runner just ran through it. I crossed on the 4 logs pushed together and felt perfectly secure.

Then the uphill. A long gorge hike of switchbacks. Not steep, but long. And full of flies. Several water sources. I stopped twice to spray on the Deet, which kept them away until I sweated it off again. I trudged slowly up the hill, very grateful that I was doing this under cover of trees. It was hot, but not oppressively so until I broke out into the open areas. The heat and the many days of walking was wearing me down. I’m glad I was doing this solo, because I don’t think I would have been very pleasant to be around in the last couple of hours of this day.
Near the turn where the trail heads east on the Paradise Park Loop Trail I was hitting the wall. My brain was fried and my body was telling me it wasn’t happy. I sat on a rock in the shade and played Plants v. Zombies for about 10 minutes until I felt like I could walk for another 45-60 minutes.

There is a small creek west of Lost Creek that is *somewhat* near a ton of campsites. There are campsites everywhere in this area, tucked in down tiny paths. I saw a great one, walked down to it, dropped my pack, set up my chair and sat in the shade. As I sat there I thought about the walk to the water from here. Uphill. In the sun. I checked a trip report that said the Lost Creek flowed all summer and decided to shoot for that instead. Putting the pack back on at this point was tough. I did not want to keep walking. I had about 20 minutes to walk, but I did not want to.

Then, I get near Lost Creek and what seems to be the best campsite ever is taken. The only other tent I’ve seen since the Sandy was on a shady ledge next to the creek! There was another spot in the trees, up a minute from the creek that would do, but I was bummed about that spot. Until I later hiked up a tiny trail and saw an even better spot! Further from water, but the view was incredible. (There were people there too!) I never heard the people above me, but the guy next to the river was LOUD.

I soaked my feet, got water, made food, set up the tent, then just sat. It felt so good to sit! I watched the light change on the mountain as I brushed flies away. It was here that I realized I could sleep with my head at the foot end of the tent. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to see the mountain. I felt like a rebel. Then an idiot for not realizing this last year.

The sunset on my last night of being 44 was glorious! I found out later it was due to fires, but the colors… wow.

Monday, 10am- Late start. For the first time on a backpacking trip I didn’t sleep well. And it was already hot at 730 when I got up. The cupcake I had carried for this morning was a bit stale. And I nearly dropped it in the dirt.

BUT- I woke up on my birthday in this glorious place. Blinding sun, a mountain, and the sound of a stream. And in a few hours, I would have clean hands, air conditioning, and ice cream. Life was pretty good.
The hike out felt like 20 miles. It was dusty and hot and I was worn the F. out. Bless the forestry people who cleared those major tree falls between Paradise and the Zig Zag! The ZigZag was a simple crossing. The hike back up was buggy and hot. Not hard, just annoying in that I was SO CLOSE to the car. And so tired.

I passed many encouraging people who commended my effort. I got many compliments on my umbrella.
When I saw the first chairlift I started to cry. Little weepy tears at first, then a short actual cry. I’ve skied through here so many times, and now they were solid indicators that I was so very close to taking off the pack and sitting down. As much as I absolutely LOVED this hike, I was 110% ready to be DONE.

All told I did 45 miles. Which I later realized was perfect for my 45th birthday! I’m glad I broke it into this many days. I didn’t need more, and I could have done it in maybe 1 night less, but Since I hadn’t done much distance hiking this year, I think I was smart to keep my days relatively low in mileage.

Day 1: 7.5 miles, 5 people seen prior to camp, 3 marmots
Day 2: 8.5 miles, 50+ people, ground squirrels
Day 3: 13.5 miles, 70+ people, 1 elk, ground squirrels, goat tracks, FLIES
Day 4: 10.2 miles, too many people, 1 Pika, FLIES
Day 5: 6 miles, 50+ people (including asshats w a loud radio!), FLIES

Total number of people I was able to see going counter clockwise? 12. Including me.

Injuries: 1- log snag
Fly bites: 20?
Last edited by Kerraeb on August 2nd, 2018, 6:46 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Timberline Trail CCW July 27-30, 2018

Post by Kerraeb » August 2nd, 2018, 6:27 pm

I can't figure out how to insert pictures. I took pictures of every river crossing!

* I got some uploaded, but they are flipped and I had no way to label them, so it pretty much sucks. >:(
Last edited by Kerraeb on August 2nd, 2018, 6:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Timberline Trail CCW July 27-30, 2018

Post by Aimless » August 2nd, 2018, 6:40 pm

Quick question. Many years ago the Timberline Trail section that ran from Ramona Falls, up around the end of Yocum Ridge, and crossed the Muddy Fork fairly close to its headwaters before ascending to Bald Mountain was badly washed out between Yocum Ridge and the Muddy Fork crossing. At the time the FS expressed doubt that section would ever be reopened. Has this section been restored/rebuilt now? Or does the TT still reroute away from this section?

Thanks for the info.

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Re: Timberline Trail CCW July 27-30, 2018

Post by Kerraeb » August 2nd, 2018, 6:44 pm

I didn’t divert from the TT at all. There was a dusty landslide area between the Muddy Fork and Ramona, but a trail had been created/tramped down that I had no trouble crossing.
It’s a little freaky because the dirt is soft and you can see where you would just slide down a ways, it was solid and wide enough to walk on.
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Re: Timberline Trail CCW July 27-30, 2018

Post by Thuja » August 2nd, 2018, 7:32 pm

I was with the people camped in that shady spot just by Lost Creek that Sunday night. We had one more flat spot for a tent, but no way of knowing what passing hiker may be looking for one! Would have offered it to you for sure, and glad you found a nice birthday-night spot for yer'self anyway :)

Thanks for the pictures and the helpful details. I didn't do the whole TT, only joined a group for their last two days around. I understand your love for the peaceful wooded feeling of hiking alone, I am also often a solo hiker/backpacker, and your report may help me on a future solo TT around the Hood.

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Re: Timberline Trail CCW July 27-30, 2018

Post by Kerraeb » August 2nd, 2018, 7:35 pm

Thank you! I was totally fine not being social and there were tons of spots around.
I REALLY wanted that spot at the top of the hill that older couple had. Their view was incredible! :)
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Re: Timberline Trail CCW July 27-30, 2018

Post by unichris » August 6th, 2018, 10:14 am

How were the flowers near Lost Creek?

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Re: Timberline Trail CCW July 27-30, 2018

Post by Kerraeb » August 6th, 2018, 10:28 am

I’m not a plant person, but there were reds, purples, and those fluffy Dr. Seuss looking things everywhere.

And butterflies!
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Re: Timberline Trail CCW July 27-30, 2018

Post by retired jerry » August 6th, 2018, 10:47 am

hippy on a stick

western pasque flower

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Re: Timberline Trail CCW July 27-30, 2018

Post by oliverpdx » August 6th, 2018, 9:34 pm

retired jerry wrote:
August 6th, 2018, 10:47 am
hippy on a stick

western pasque flower
aka Jon Bon Jovi flowers (maybe just by me)

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