Backpacking the Timberline Trail

I actually  have very few negative things to say about this hike (shocking, I know). My expectations were misaligned (meaning, I get stressed out when I KNOW we should cover 14 miles in a day and we only cover 10) but overall I found this hike to be thoroughly enjoyable (all complaining aside).

We parked at Timberline Lodge and started our hike from there. Hindsight being 20/20, we probably would have preferred to start the hike somewhere else and have one of our nights along the trail be a relaxing stay at the lodge. Would it be hard to get on the road again after that? Yes. Would it have been totally worth it to sleep in a real bed and eat delicious food and drink wine by the fire? Definitely.

The road home is a loooooong one. There are several horrifying river crossings along the way (beware if hiking this with a puppy or a little one) but the last river crossing is a wide and swift one. Wide meaning you are DEFINITELY going to get wet-foot and swift meaning that rocks will likely belt your calves along your wet-foot way. By the time you emerge you have to climb up a steep, sandy slope (meaning wet, sandy feet) and then you can see the lodge far off in the distance for several miles before you actually arrive there. Which is a slow torture. You can picture a juicy burger in one hand and a cold beer in the other but you are still HOURS and a wet, sandy climb away from that reality. Keep on keeping on – you’ll get there. Refer to my section on “fighting with your camping buddy” for tips to get through this difficult time.

Loads of fresh drinking water along the way…

The truth about Elliot Crossing:

To say I was stressed out about the Elliot Crossing from what I’d read would be an understatement. We had read that you could shimmy down a rope on a steep slope or cross a very sketchy glacier. We opted for the rope and hiked up a steep slope only to turn around thinking we had missed it somewhere along the way. We turned around and took a few unlikely side trails (no luck) and then continued up the way we came. We realized to our exhausted horror that we had turned around about 100 yards from the rope spot. So don’t turn back blog-readers! It’s pretty clear where the rope is (but it’s a much steeper climb than you would anticipate).

The rope climb down into the canyon and then the subsequent river crossing and climb back up were SO NOT THAT BAD! A little sketchy, sure. But on a scale of 1 to deadly I’d give this a 4. Don’t fall but you would likely not even be doing this hike if you were clumsy. Point is, Elliot Crossing is not to be feared.

Lessons learned:

  • Take the time to take your time. Because the hike was so long, I had it set in my mind that we would hike more miles in the first 2 days and then take it easier on the 3rd day and be done with plenty of time for a burger and a beer at Skyline Restaurant down the way. So when Nick “Bearshield” wanted to take a side hike I FREAKED OUT (internally at least). Turns out, the side hike was one of my favorite experiences of the entire hike. We took some funny nudie pics and a butterfly landed on my finger which made me THE HAPPIEST PERSON IN THE WHOLE WORLD. If I had freaked out externally as much as I freaked out internally, we would’ve missed the whole experience.
A much needed cold foot soak!


  • Valerie Wheatley

    Val grew up in Portland, Oregon but moved to Oahu on a whim back in 2013. She sold her house and all of her belongings and bought a one-way ticket. Since then she’s taken two around-the-world trips and has visited 60-ish countries while living out of a duffel bag.

    Val started documenting the Wandering Wheatleys travels back in 2013 as a way to update friends and family about her whereabouts and to relay humorous daily interactions. The only readers were her mom and her mother-in-law but that didn’t stop her!

    These days you’ll find Val dreaming up future trips, creating new travel content, managing a team of amazing travel enthusiasts, and chasing around her two adorable but naughty kids.

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