- Top Spur Trailhead – Timberline Trail – Camp on ridge above Mc Neil Point – back along the much steeper short-cut between Mc Neil Shelter and the Timberline Trail – Bald Mountain – Top Spur Trailhead
- Total mileage: About 10 miles (totally doable in a dayhike if you have “healthy” body (not like mine I mean with that… even though my body is pretty awesome 😉
- Trail condition: Smooth sailing through pine forest and easy trails, quite some snow left though (beginning of July 2017) after Bald Mountain. Steep trail if you don’t follow the trail along the ponds but going straight up/down between Mc Neil Shelter and the Timberline Trail. We chose that trail on the way back down because the other trail was still covered in snow, and snow is -right now for me- harder to walk on. That cutoff trail is steep, a bit slippery but totally doable and not super exposed.
We get out of the car at Top Spur TH. A lady asks us where we’re going and if we hiked this trail before. No we say. But she has and so she gives us all kinds of advice of what to do and where to go.
The trail winds its way up through hemlock and douglas fir till it reaches the PCT… Till it reaches the PCT… Yes, I wrote that twice. The PCfuckinT! The trailsign… I could’ve kissed it but I don’t cause there are people around. O this trail is so intertwined with my own life’s trail the past years. After we had to get off trail two years ago because of my hips I had a hard time dealing with anything trailrelated. It just hurt. It took me a year or more to be able to look at maps again, or pictures, without feeling a knot in my belly and a sting in my heart. I now look at the trail differently I guess. The land quietly waiting for me till I’m ready to come back. I don’t know when I’ll be ready and I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to hike long distances again… But I know the land is patient.We only hike a few steps along the PCT till we take the Timberline Trail left towards Mc Neil Point. More hemlock and douglas fir and then the forest opens up and Mt. Hood stands there in all his glory. Wait, stop, let me call the mountain with its original name: Wy’east! Yeah. There was Wy’east in all his glory! The meadow is sprinkled with colors of wildflowers. Red, blue, yellow, purple, white… It’s seriously perfect!! And right on time for my first break. I can’t walk more than 1,5 to 2 miles at a time, and then I have to go lay down for 20 or 30 minutes and give my hips a rest. I’m not good at sitting still when the trail is calling but this scenery makes it a lot easier. Damn it’s beautiful here.
We cross the last snow field and end up on the ridge above Mc Neil Shelter where we find the second best epic campspot (Goaltech knows what I’m talking about). Roots goes off exploring the ridge up to the glaciers but I have to stop and rest.
When the sun sets we are in awe. This is one of those sunsets you never forget. While Wy’east shines in alpenglow, the heavens around Mt. St. Helens (Suek), Mt. Rainier (Ti’Swaq’) and Mt. Adams (Pah Do) color orange and yellow and the far off landscape and ridges turn all kinds of blue and grey. The sun is like a red ball of fire, quickly making her way down to the other hemisphere. It is absolutely breathtaking. And the wildflowers look as if an artist has dropped a bucket full of paint on the meadow canvas.
It’s hard to go to bed with such a scenery around but then again it’s not hard at all cause my heart is so full already.
When we wake up the sun is up already. We have breakfast and then head down to Mc Neil Shelter that is surrounded by ‘hippies on a stick’ aka pulsatilla occidentalis. We choose to take the steep but shorter route back down because the snow is so exhausting to walk on with my hip still being unstable. We take it slow and make it down safely.
Instead of following the Timberline Trail back to the Top Spur Trailhead we go along Bald Mountain and we’re happy we did. Beautiful views, meadows full of wildflowers with Wy’East in the back. Gorgeous!