For this unsupported effort, I carried everything I needed for Timberline Trail to the summit of Mt Hood and everything I needed for the summit around Timberline. That said, I carried way more than I needed. In the end, due to warm temps I didn't use my windbreaker, extra t-shirt, or thermal leggings. I also didn't eat some of my food including a fresh plum which I enjoyed back at the trailhead the next morning while starring at the mountain from the trailhead. Overall, it was a grand day and I finished with more sand in my shoes than complaints. Here’s what happened out there:
Mt Hood: To my surprise, the climb was both friendly and desolate. I carried my ice axe but didn't end up using it. I put on toe cramps briefly for the final approach to Pearly Gates which was melted out. Poles were sufficient here. There was zero snow on the summit. Going into this, I was expecting chossy conditions but found the route to be mostly packed sand and ash which was great on the descent. The smell of sulfur crossing Devils Kitchen made me nauseous but the drive to FKT got me through it. Saw 0 people along this section and no wildlife either.
Timberline Trail: Aside from the onslaught of in-your-face views of Mt Hood, the highlight of this section was blasting past TT Hikers with their massive packs. The trail’s reverse grading was incredible, making the climbing go smoothly. On the other hand, water sources were scarce compared to what I was expecting and a few times I had to conserve what I had and make up for it at the next creek. At least the notorious, milky, and otherwise undrinkable river crossings were manageable. I was stoked to have made it around without getting my feet wet.
In the end, I finished an hour and change later than I was shooting for but wouldn’t take back the interactions I had throughout the day for more time off. While the summit was an isolated experience with an active volcano, the TT was a social trail with tons of cool people, great chill out spots, and historical memorabilia. The combination made for an unforgettable experience, one I’ll surely do again someday.