Timberline Trail Loop July 28, 2019

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Timberline Trail Loop July 28, 2019

Post by poppacouch » July 31st, 2019, 10:41 am

Myself and three buddies in our mid-30's set out for an epic 4-day, 3-night Timberline Trail loop trip on July 28, 2019. None of us had done much distance 'thru-hiking' (does a long loop count?), but had done several multi-night trips over the previous few years. Our plan was to start on Sunday morning (traversing CCW to avoid the sandy climb at the end and maybe avoid the crowds), head to Cloud Cap area, then to McNeil Point, and finally camp around Lost Creek, leaving a rather short 5-ish miles for the last morning. Our first 2 stops went pretty close to plan, but our last did not...

3 of us hammocked along the trail. This worked out great as we didn't camp above the tree line. With a proper setup, can't see how anyone chooses to sleep on the ground over hanging in a comfortable cocoon!?

• 3 days in the wilderness with great friends!
• The views of Mt. Hood - these were always changing while traversing around, but also always beautiful.
• Gorgeous views looking into Muddy Fork Gorge from Bald Mountain Ridge
• Weather: we enjoyed fantastic weather. Mostly mid/upper 40's to mid/upper 60's. Can't imagine how it could be better. Clear skies, amazing views in every direction.
• The wild-flowers (everywhere) and streams in Elk Cove, Wy'East Basin, Cairn Basin section.
• Looking out from McNeil Point.

Final stats, as recorded by Gaia.
Total Miles: 43.9
Elevation gained: 9440
Moving time: 20 hours
Pack Weight: 16 lbs base + 6-7 lbs of food and then water.
Bugs were a non-issue. Saw a couple mosquitoes and flies and only in a few spots, but just didn't bother us. We were prepared for swarms, but so glad we didn't need to deploy anything.

Day 1
~14 miles
Timberline Lodge to just before Cloud Cap campground. Started around 10, finished around 7:30. It was a long, hard day. Group went a bit slow early, with lots of breaks and pictures. The hike up and over gnarl ridge, and farther up to the high point was a tough finish to the day. But I felt pretty good and enjoyed the challenge. Camp site was without water so we packed some down from the last water source. This was not ideal, but worked out OK. No difficult River crossings.

Day 2
~13 miles
Somehow we didn't start hiking until 10am again. Ladd River ended up being our toughest crossing, but stayed dry. Elliot had a huge log that made it easy.
Glisan creek was also rushing late in the day.
and Elk Cove, Wy'East Basin & Cairn Basin were beautiful. Meadows full of flowers and streams.
Ate a late lunch around 2pm at Dollar lake (this was later and further than anticipated). No TH marker for the lake, lucky to have existing tracks to find it. More like a cattle-pond, but with nicer scenery around it. We all waded in it's murky water to cool off.
Got to camp around 5:30 just before the second, unmarked trail up to McNeil point. Three of us hiked up McNeil point from the West side. Very steep, basically straight up. But the reward at the top was amazing. Enjoyed the ridiculous views to the North of Adams, St. Helens, and Rainier. Then looped back around to camp by following the much easier trail back down to the official, marked trailhead. This added about 3 miles to our trip, but at least we didn't have our packs on!

Day 3
~18 miles
Planned an early start and were on the trail by 8:30. It started with some ridiculously gorgeous views looking into Muddy Fork Gorge, with Yocum Ridge Falls from Bald Mountain Ridge. Can't say enough about this view!
After a quick, easy hike 7 miles, mostly downhill, we ate lunch at Ramona Falls. It was pretty quiet, with only a few groups of people. Then we set off to finish our day, knowing we had about 2000ft ascent to our campsite. We planned to stop at one of the several creeks listed on the map, Lost, Lady, Rushing Water, and someone along the trail told of an amazing campsite coming up that we could use. We were right on schedule to wrap the day early around 4. But at each stream crossing, the campsites were either non-existent or not desirable. We kept pushing on due to the advice we had received and one our guys recollection of an amazing campsite as well. Finally we made it to the ridge above ZigZag river. We understood there likely wasn't much better camping ahead, but thought we give this a shot, hoping to find a suitable spot. After getting down the canyon and finding nothing to our liking we weighed our options. Only about 3 miles to go, but another 1000 ft ascent, we resolved to just finish the trip out. And so we did, getting back to the car around 7:30pm. This made for a long, tiring final stretch. It was also really disappointing, as we had planned to stay another night.

Thinking about it more during our final push out, we think that the amazing campsite we missed must have been up on the Paradise Park loop. Maybe someone can confirm?

I will just state for the record, there is not much good camping between Timberline Lodge and just before the Sandy River... you have been warned.

This was an amazing experience! 18 miles on our last day was the most miles in a day by any in our group, so we all left feeling great about our accomplishment.

I have GPS tracks for this trip, if anyone is interested. I could even clean them up a bit to exclude the McNeil Point, Dollar Lake and some of our rest-stops. Also, lots of pictures which I may post a few...

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Re: Timberline Trail Loop July 28, 2019

Post by teachpdx » July 31st, 2019, 12:28 pm

poppacouch wrote:
July 31st, 2019, 10:41 am
Thinking about it more during our final push out, we think that the amazing campsite we missed must have been up on the Paradise Park loop. Maybe someone can confirm?
Yes, the really good campsites are where the Paradise Park Loop trail crosses Lost Creek. There's not much of anything down on the PCT that compares.
instagram: @robo_remy

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Re: Timberline Trail Loop July 28, 2019

Post by drm » July 31st, 2019, 12:44 pm

Rushing Water Ck is at the bottom of the hill before climbing up, just minutes after crossing the Sandy River. That would be the place to camp if you wanted to save the big uphill for the first thing next morning.

As to hammocks, great if you sleep on your back, not so otherwise. I have "slept" in a hammock exactly once - on a group trip in a hut at the base of Angel Falls in Venezuela. Never again. But I can certainly see the appeal if it works for you.

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