After a summer of working, my sister and I both had a week off. We needed to get away. I think her head may have exploded if she had to work one more second. We decided on camping at Timothy Lake. Even though we grew up in Oregon City, neither of us had ever been there before (I know, crazy right?). We read about all the campsites on the interwebs and decided on The Cove. It was supposed to be sparsely populated because it is a hike-in site, less than half a mile. It sounded perfect.
We headed up Mt. Hood and down the long forestry road. I had vague, sketchy directions about where exactly The Cove was located. As I drove past a sign I was lucky to notice it was labeled “The Cove.” Needless to say, it was not what I expected. It was indeed a cove right on the water and quite fantastic, but it was on the road. Apparently the definition of hike-in is that you can’t drive your giant unnecessary truck on top of your picnic table. We had to haul our stuff about 100 feet. Whew. What a hike.
There is a hike around Timothy Lake. It is 13 miles. That is way further than anything we had ever done. It appeared to be relatively flat though, so it seemed doable. We knew we were going to do it. We just didn’t know when. It’s hard to take a break from all that sunbathing and lake swimming. We tried to convince our friends to come with us on a short jaunt to the dam. They didn’t want to. We said, “Fine we’ll go without you, brats.” My sister, her boyfriend, and I took off. We intended to walk about 15 minutes so we didn’t bring any food or water with us.
When we got to the dam, we had only been out for like 10 minutes. “Let’s keep going, ” someone said. Famous last words. We looked at the map and there was a perfect place for us to walk to and turn around just a little ways up, Meditation Point. We headed out. We hiked for awhile, on and on, and assumed since Meditation Point was so well-marked on the map that at some point we would hit it. The lake started to get slender and we quickly realized we were probably in the North Arm. The North Arm is the part of the hike that makes it so long. It’s an offshoot of the main lake. When we reached the campground our suspicions were confirmed. We checked the map again and North Arm was half of the hike. It made no sense to head back when we could just keep going and it was roughly the same distance. Again, we had no food or water.
We continued on. I forgot to mention the beauty of Timothy Lake. There is no section of that hike that is not breathtaking: the color of the deep pools of water in the North Arm, the drapery of moss hanging from the trees, the variety of colorful mushrooms growing on every surface, and the crazy hillbillies who somehow drove into the middle of nowhere with a huge RV on no roads and were watching tv.
At some point the Timothy Lake Trail merges with the Pacific Crest Trail for awhile. We liked this. The trail was better tended after and had neat bridges and pathways. We talked about the craziness of the entire Pacific Crest Trail and that people actually hike the whole thing! Then, as we realized it was only an hour until dark and that our fingers were so swollen from dehydration that we couldn’t bend them, we missed a turn. We were supposed to go back to the Timothy Lake Trail and we stayed on the Pacific Crest Trail. I was in the lead. It was totally my fault.
We walked all the way out, away from the lake, to the forestry road we drove in on. We were a bit more than 3 miles away from our campground by road. We were racing the dark and battling our own bodies. It was survival instinct and muscle memory that got us back to camp. We walked 17 miles with no food or water. It was ridiculous. I will never forget it.
We all had our own recovery methods. Billy Pallotto saved my life by getting me orange juice when those were the only two words I could utter. Thanks Billy.
For information about Timothy Lake click here.