Monday July 24, 2017: Paradise Park to Salvation Spring (spoiler alert: unplanned 17.6 mile day)
We wake up early, make some coffee, eat morning snacks, and are out of camp at 7:05am. The light is stupid gorgeous this morning illuminating Mt. Hood from behind as we walk in the shadows across a few late season snow fields.
We are both grinning from ear to ear and having a lovely time watching the light show. We have the place to ourselves and the wildflowers are showing off along the trail and up the green hillsides. Plus some sweet surprise waterfalls are thrown in too.
We hit the Sandy River around 9am and cross it fairly easily, just getting our feet wet. Then it’s up an incline on the other side and turning off for a side trip to the famed Ramona Falls. This little side loop meets back up the with PCT and is about the same length as the PCT so we definitely wanted to go take a look. The falls deliver on being beautiful, quiet, and unique. Just one other hiker is sitting a little off trail and we take a nice break to snap a few pictures. As we are resting I read through the guide books notes and see that they suggest taking Timberline Trail #600 as it offers amazing views of Mt. Hood. We talk about it and I think it’s just a little longer than the loop we are on so we decide to head that way for the pretty stuff.
We turn to the right and start climbing up the Timberline #600 into very pretty and shady fern lined trail. And keep climbing and climbing… hmm this does not feel quite right. So finally after a lot of uphill we take a break at a slightly flat spot and I look at my maps and finish reading the description of this side trail. Well FML, this trail is WAY longer than the original route (5+ miles longer) and WAY more elevation change than the PCT. SHIIIIIITTTTTT. What was supposed to be a 12 mile easy day turns into a much harder and longer 17.6 mile day… on our second day out. Well nothing to do but keep hiking, so we do. And it is very pretty, if hot and full of a lot of very annoying, biting flies, so that’s neat.
We cross the accurately named Muddy Creek a few times, decide just to keep our shoes on for better grip and to save time. Although walking these long miles in and out of creek drainage’s in soggy socks and shoes is not helping the mood for the day or any forming blisters. It keeps getting warmer and we take less breaks (aka eat less food/drink less water) then we should to avoid the flies. The views are helping make this slog a little bit worth it and we see a lot more day hikers on this stretch as well to keep us distracted. More queers, hooray!
Finally we hit the PCT again and feel back on track, if not exhausted with several more miles to go. We are aiming for a camp by a little stream that is listed on Guthook maps but are sorely disappointed when we get there. It is on a big slope right next to the trail and the flies are Lord of the flying all over it, no thanks.
We do take a good break here to switch into dry socks, eat snacks, and reassess. There’s another campsite at Salvation spring in 4 miles from here, well the name sounds kind of reassuring so we decide to go for that. Plus it will cut some miles from tomorrow and that sounds pretty nice right now. So backpacks on again and tromping down the trail we go.
After zombie walking along for a while we almost miss the spring altogether. The sign was hidden in some trees but luckily I spot the camping area from above about 100 yards past it and we turn around to find the overgrown side trail down to our home for the night.
The spring is a cute little trickle that is hard to collect from but less disgusting then other springs I have drunk from so it will do. I start scouting for a spot that is away from the spring and maybe has a breeze to keep the bugs away. I luck out and find a spot on a little open hill that has a peek of Mt. Hood between the trees. Sarah joins me on our private mole hill and we throw our pack downs for the day. It is 6pm and we have hiked for 11 hours on our second day out, ufffffta! I start setting up the tent as Sarah walks back down to grab our evening water supply (cuz she’s nice and a team player)
Our little spot on this random hill is pretty great. It is especially advantageous when another group of loud hikers shows up at the spring and starts setting up their tents and yell talking to each other from a few feet away. Luckily in our little haven the wind and trees dampens their yelling and I am much too tired to care about all their noise any way. All and all we have survived our long day pretty well. I have just one small blister on my left foot’s big toe, some butt chafing, and our dogs are barking but nothing that some Vaseline, Vitamin I, and rest can’t hopefully fix up soon.
We have a planned 12 mile day tomorrow, with hopefully no surprise mileage, so it’s soon off to sleepy land as the sun goes down behind the hills.