The compressed dirt of the forest quickly transitioned to deep, loose sand, and we felt like we were climbing a sand dune. We viewed the Salmon River in its deep, glacier carved ravine, then climbed to cross the river higher on the mountain where the ravine was not so steep.
Sierra was excited at the sight of the working chairlifts on the mountain. As we approached Timberline Lodge (5,940 ft), she wistfully eyed skiers in their racing speed suits, clearly wishing she could be training on the snow. We felt conspicuous as we entered the beautiful lodge building, dirty and carrying full backpacks.
Finding our way up to the Cascadia Room, we were reassured by the sight of all the familiar faces, already seated and enjoying breakfast. And what a breakfast it was! Fresh waffles with a delicious assortment of toppings; fresh huckleberries, raspberries, and blackberries, mini chocolate chips, buts, butter, whipped cream, and maple syrup. Blueberry pancakes, eggs, potatoes, pastries, granola, porridge, and much, much more. We ate and ate until we couldn't eat any more.
After breakfast we took a few minutes to tour the building, which was built in the thirties by the Civilian Conservation Core and dedicated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Then it was time to hike on.
Even with the top of mountain obscured by thick clouds and fog, the trail was incredibly beautiful. We passed through mossy forests, fields of wildflowers, and deep, glacier carved ravines. A lone black bear munched berries deep in a ravine.
We enjoyed a beautiful orange sunset through the trees, then turned back for a final glimpse of Mount Hood, still shrouded in clouds and fog. Although we planned to camp at Lolo Pass (3,420 ft), we noticed a tent already at the site and began to hike on. But just after we crossed to road a voice called to us, "There's room at the campsite if you want to camp." Nugio had heard us pass, and had climbed out of his tent and chased after us to make sure we knew we were welcome. Grateful, we followed him back to the campsite and set up camp for the night.