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Friday, August 22, 2014

The Fabled Timberline Lodge Buffet

This has been an extreme few days.

 We woke up again on the big soft lawn of the campground at Cascade Locks. The sun was out and it was warm with a fresh breeze.

 I stood around picking blackberries a little while, doing a few errands and then we ate at the ice cream place again. We got french fries and onion rings and ice cream. The fries were pretty nasty and Maggie told me afterward she felt sick. We were hiking three miles that day, it was basically a zero day, we just had to relocate from the camp ground to right at the beginning of the trail.

I insisted we get an early start tomorrow to avoid the tourists. This is the Eagle Creek Trail, a more scenic alternate to the PCT for 12 miles and then it connects back to the PCT. A classic Portland hike, Eagle Creek goes through Tunnel Falls, a 120 foot waterfall with a tunnel you get to walk through behind it. The trail is spectacular and winds on steep precarious cliffs on the side of lush canyons.

Anyway halfway through the 3 mile walk Maggie had to lay down because she didn't feel good. I didn't understand what was wrong with her. We found an apple tree of golden delicious apples and a lady gave us peaches and nectarines. We came to the spot and it was a strange lousy spot, it was a campground but the sites were a long ways away up a steep road so we just went over to this picnic table and set up camp. It was like a day use only type spot but Maggie immediately lay down exhausted. I laid with her and we both fell asleep. I had very strange nightmares and we woke up at dusk to a deer jumping through our campsite, startling us. Cars were driving by occasionally, shining their headlights right on us, it was annoying.

Maggie had not been feeling good and I was a little concerned that she had to get a good nights sleep to feel better and we may not get it here. I also didn't think she was actually sick, and that just her stomach was still upset from the greasy food. We both slept like shit that night, I had nightmares again and woke up extremely anxious hallucinating a cat with us in the tent. Very surreal.

 I woke up in the morning at 6 a.m. and Maggie still felt bad and I became upset because I wanted her to feel good for the Eagle Creek Trail I was so excited for. We got in a fight first thing in the morning and got our day off to a bad start. We were trying to decide if we should continue into the wilderness or not but we both didn't want to hang around here all day or go back to Cascade Locks. So off we went around eight and plunged forward into the Columbia wilderness. We walked along the sides of cliffs, a really cool trail cut into the rock, but Maggie felt bad and I didn't feel too good either.

We both agreed we felt dizzy. About 2 miles in there was a little side trail to Punch Bowl Falls. We took it and went a quarter mile directly down into the most beautiful spot. A lush, small canyon with a big waterfall dropping to a lower level to your right and then a pebble beach on the side of a crystal clear river. The canyon walls straight up on both sides surrounded with moss and ferns. There was a good cave in the side of a wall and five finger ferns hung down from the roof of the cave all dripping with water that was seeping from the rock. It still felt like early morning in the canyon, it was cold. Then you look around the corner and there's one elegant waterfall, free falling into a large pool.

We sat there for over an hour, eventually shafts of light from the passing day shown in on us, making the ferns glow.

We made friends with a couple nice people Paul and Carol who admired our PCT trip. They were full time RVers, exploring the state of Oregon. We talked to them for a long time. We both felt out of it all day but at some point it became clear to me that Maggie was actually sick. She got worse and started collapsing for rest on the trail. The trail was still extremely beautiful and we were able to enjoy it.

 We walked through Tunnel Falls and it was powerful. To get showered with the mist of it was a wonderful thing.

After that though I said let's stop. We covered 6 miles in 6 hours. Again upon collapsing in camp Maggie immediately fell asleep. While she slept I swam in a pool beneath a roaring waterfall, it was a beautiful spot. We stopped hiking at 2 so we had the day to relax by that very nice creek. When Maggie woke up it was obvious she was very ill. I was worried, I tried to take care of her. I cooked dinner and she could barely eat it. Then finally I held her hair back and she puked it up. We lay together all evening and she puked some more. It was terrible.

We got better sleep that night, for like 15 hours, and in the morning she was still sick. She puked more and we considered just staying put. In the end she wanted to hike and we went two miles. We considered stopping there but decided we could do four more. The trail to Indian Springs went straight up with no switchbacks, certainly the steepest trail we've done so far on the PCT because we weren't on the PCT- we were on the Eagle Creek Trail. We had to continue to get to a water source. Maggie felt horrible, it was extremely difficult. She said it was the hardest day.

Eventually we made it and she started to feel better. We camped among the huckleberries and who was to walk up but Clayton "Eskimo Boy." We met him on July 3rd in Stehekin on the second day of our trip, the 10th day of his, it was August 8th now. We hadnt seen him since but we followed him on Facebook and his blog and then we saw him in Cascade Locks. So he camped with us and we had a great time actually becoming friends, because we already felt like friends with how much we talked about his story. Him and Julian had gotten sick just days before with both the same symptoms as Maggie. We discussed it. Could it be from the water? Nah, probably not.

In the morning Maggie felt better and totally able to hike. We hiked with Clayton and did 21 miles easy and we're done by 5 p.m.. It was a beautiful happy day. We all felt good. We camped by a big lava rock field with a cool volcanic landscape on the slopes of Mount Hood.

 It's good that we were able to hike those two short, hard six mile days because we were able to stay pretty well on schedule. We now only had 8 miles to the fabled Timberline Lodge buffet. In the morning the three of us felt extremely pumped to be going directly to the lodge so we hiked fast! We didn't eat very much and sure enough were starving when we arrived. The buffet goes from noon to 3 and we arrived at noon. We could smell it. Mount Hood was gorgeous, the Timberline Lodge is a really cool resort.

We walk in the crowd of people, dirty and sweaty and stinking, in a complete daze, mouths watering at the smell of food and then jaws dropping at the sight of it. Silver platters and heaping bowl of salad and grilled vegetables, tabouli with goat cheese and wild rice salad, artichokes with feta and cherry tomatoes, potato salad and cous cous. Then pork tenderloin with an apple glaze and rare sliced steak with horseradish cream and cranberry sauce. Split pea soup and fresh warm bread and butter and waffles. Ripe amazing cantaloupe and watermelon and pineapple and then! Cheesecake and hazelnut caramel berry bars and light flaky chocolate brownies, crispy cookies, mini banana cream pies and raspberry mousse with white chocolate and cupcakes and cheesecake!!! It was insane. I've never seen a buffet this good especially at a time in my life like this where food has become something else to me. My appetite has been out of control lately, hiking the PCT makes food taste so much better. This was all homemade and good!

 I was overwhelmed, there were too many options to fit everything on one huge plate. It satisfied every dream of food I've had, they had it all.

It was way better than I ever could have hoped or wish for, it was ecstasy. We sat and stuffed our faces, eating strong for over an hour.

Then in walked our friends Paul and Carol, the RVers from the Eagle Creek Trail, how cool seeing them! They congratulated us. I was so happy to have made it to Timberline, for Maggie not being sick anymore and able to eat, and to eat this wonderful food. I felt my stomach being full, and then bursting full, but my brain just said eat. Eat eat eat! Plate after plate.

Finally my eyes went crossed and I stumbled drunkenly to the bathroom where I sat on the toilet with my head against the wall in agony. I stumbled back up and sat hunched alongside my hunched friends, having gone overboard and poisoned myself with overeating. I crashed my head down into the table trying to digest and then the waitress came and told us Paul and Carol had taken care of our check. I, overwhelmed by this experience and overcome with emotions, and incredible physical pain, just started crying uncontrollably at the dinner table. The meal was undoubtedly one of the best most unforgettable moments of my life!

Eventually we could move and we wandered up to our shady camp site on the ski slopes of Mount Hood, gazing out over all of hazy Oregon towards Mount Jefferson.

We completed our first Oregon segment and it was one to remember. A cool and gentle breeze blew through our campsite where we relaxed peacefully. I got to play the piano in the hotel, I don't know exactly what tomorrow will bring. Perhaps a breakfast buffet? Then we will probably take off to our next destination!

1 comment:

  1. Wow, what an epic food adventure. Did you try everything on the buffet? The aftermath agony must have taken a while to recover from. Too bad you can't just pack some of it away for later. Once again, great pictures.