Mile 2092 to 2109
We wake and thank the wind god for drying our tents and gear overnight. We are less than 3 miles from the buffet and Kevin has never packed up his gear more quickly. We are on the trail by 6:00 am. Our love for the wind god quickly blows away as we enter a torrential sand storm, which polishes everything we have, including our corneas. Although there is hardly any daylight I put on my cheap sun glasses and stagger in the even darker. I hike with a finger in my ear to keep the sands of time from counting down the hours in my mind. On the plus side our normally filthy skin is being exfoliated as we walk.
According to a notice in the Olallie Lake hiker box, the Timberline breakfast buffet is $14.95 and goes from 7:00am to 10:00am. We are right on time, except that the start time is actually 7:30am. The curse of Olallie Lake continues. To kill time I stand in the men’s room mesmerized by the hot water faucet and soap dispenser.
At 7:30 we abandon any pretense of civility and plow down the row of plenty. It is time for our first episode of “Buffet the hunger killer.” My first plate is piled with eggs, sausage patties, sausage links, ham, salami, potatoes and frittatas. I wash it down with several cups of coffee and berry smoothies. My next plate has a huge Belgian waffle divided into fruity territories – raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries, plus one traditional section with massive globs of butter. I create a Mount Hood sized mound of mash-potato-thick whipping cream and smother the entire concoction with maple syrup. After more cups of coffee and smoothies, I am ready for a plate of fruit and pastries.
There is a scene in a Monty Python movie where an obese man is gorging himself at a restaurant. The waiter asks how he is doing, to which the man says “Better”.” Too quickly the waiter relies “Oh, good.” The man clarifies by saying, “No. Better get a bucket. I’m going to be sick!” The scene ends when the waiter offers the man an after dinner mint, then runs for cover. The mint of course is the straw that breaks the camel’s stomach and he literally explodes sending his entrails and undigested food throughout the restaurant. As Kevin and I finally push away from the buffet table, we feel we are just one mint shy of a similar ending.
Once our phones are charged and water bottles filled, we waddle away from the beautiful and historic FDR works project/boondoggle known as Timberline Lodge. About 150 feet from the lodge we stand in front of a sign scratching our heads, partly to remove the sand and partly to remove the confusion. The sign reads 550 miles to Canada. On our way into the lodge Kevin pointed out a sign that read 498 miles to Canada. I am not completely clear on how plate tectonics work but apparently while we were filling our plates at the buffet, Canada migrated 52 miles north, probably irritated by something the U.S. said.
We hike to the torrential and dirty Sandy River, which we eventually figure how to cross on a precarious log and driftwood natural semi-bridge. We walk by several other muddy waters including the aptly named Muddy Fork.
The last 2.7 miles to our camp is straight up. Although I had rinsed out my shirt in one of the clean streams, it is all for naught, as we sweat like pigs on the home stretch. We pitch our tents, make quick meals and fall fast asleep.