Mile: 2087.9 to 2106.4 (18.5)
Up early before the alarm and it was set real early. We are out of camp by 6:15, possibly a record. But we're on a mission - get to the historic Timberline Lodge for the trail famous breakfast buffet with enough time to eat ourselves into a coma before it ends at 10:30. We only have 7 miles to go but there's 2000 feet of climbing. And as some unusual type of punishment the last mile is steep glacial sand with the consistency of beach sand. Still we make it by 8:30 and are eating minutes later. Everything we've heard about this buffet is true, it's incredible. We stay for the full two hours and even Hummingbird is full to the top.
We wander around the building, constructed in the 1930's by WPA and now a historic site, it sits on the south face of Mt. Hood at 6000 feet elevation. The craftsmanship is amazing throughout. If you are ever in the neighborhood it is well worth your time to visit, even if you don't need a 5000 calorie breakfast buffet.
Mt. Hood is amazing, with snowboarders still doing their thing on a permanent snowfield. There is even one lift chair going to get them up the mountain. We managed to get away after noon, back in the trail for the two and a half day run to Cascade Locks. We take two short alternate trails this afternoon, the first to Paradise Park a few hundred feet above the regular trail. It was a great trail with fine views of the west face of Hood and fantastic flowers. We even had our first view of Mount St Helens in the distance!
Later in the afternoon we take the 3 mile Ramona Falls alternate that parallels the PCT and visits the falls. The waterfall is a black basalt rock face with tumbling water and is gorgeous in the afternoon dappled light. Moving on we finish the alternate and reconnect with the PCT right at a big camping area next to a large glacial melt creek. It's after 5 pm - water and a camping area - we're done.