*Update 4 of 5*
Sometime during the night we began being serenaded by the steady fall of rain on our tent. It didn’t abate by morning, so we took our time packing up and enjoying the shelter provided by the porch at Big Lake Youth Camp. Eventually it became clear that the weather wasn’t going to let up, so it was time to gear up and head out. Not long into the day, we ran into a thru-hiker from last year doing amazing trail magic at Santiam Pass. He cooked up a pulled pork burrito for Edwin and a bean one for me as well as stuffing us full of sodas, chips, and whiskey … you know, on account of the cold weather. :) We lingered there longer than we meant to – it is really hard to tear yourself away from shelter (and food and good company) when the weather is awful. We had short bursts of clear skies at a few points during the day, but for the most part it stayed wet and freezing cold all day long. I wanted little more than just to pitch the tent and hope for better weather the next day but there were miles we had to make so forward we marched.
Though the next day had been forecast to be rainy and the clouds hung dark and gloomy above us all day, there was no rain. We had just enough sunshine to dry some gear out and had an awesome day of hiking around Mt. Jefferson Wilderness. Oregon continued to amaze us. Between the fresh berries lining the trails, ridiculously beautiful mountain vistas, and even the unpredictable but powerful weather, there is little not to love about this state. Highlights of this section included Ollalie Lake (not only because of the hot coffee at the store that had us RUNNING in there first thing in the morning, but that certainly helped), Little Crater Lake (a tiny lake just off the PCT with the most amazingly crystal clear cold blue water – if you ever get a chance to check out either Crater Lake or Little Crater Lake, you’re crazy not to take it), and amazing views of Mt. Hood (Oregon’s tallest mountain).
And then there was Timberline Lodge itself. More specifically, the breakfast buffet at Timberline Lodge. The lodge is a beautiful old building that was declared a National Historic Landmark by FDR. The breakfast buffet is a ridiculously delicious assortment of everything a thru-hiker could possibly want to eat, and we ate it all. There was a group of about eight of us all there at the same time, and though we all smelled terribly after having been in the rain for days, the employees at the lodge could not have been more gracious and welcoming to us. They encouraged us to stay in the dining room for as long as we wanted, eating as much food as we could handle and staying out of the rain that was once again pouring outside. At $15 per person, the breakfast buffet was one of the best deals we’ve encountered along the trail, not to mention the most delicious. We’d heard that the lunch buffet was even more amazing and we were super tempted to stay and find out for ourselves, but we were in a rush to make it to our next stop by the next evening so out we went, looking longingly at the tables of food they were setting up as we walked out the door into the drizzle.