Started out at Mt. Meadows, making my way counter clockwise around the east side of the mountain. There are fleeting views of Jefferson, which will return upon ending the loop.
I make my first water crossing at Newton, the first of many that originate from Hood's glaciers. I head up the exposed Gnawl Ridge towards the Cooper Spur Shelter. There I take cover from the sun behind a rock for a bit and eat a couple snacks. After that I finally reach my intended camp destination: Cloud Cap. I got there and immediately was greeted with views of dozens of car campers. I decided to push on.
I finally descend down making my first westward direction across the northern section of the trail. The biggest water crossing was there to greet me, it was required to ford - no logs or rock hopping. The Elliot is no joke, raging waters up to my mid thigh. I finally get up the 600' heavily eroded bank to the top of the ridge. Goal: find a campsite ASAP. Everything below my waist is wet. I push another two miles and find a great spot and retire for the night.
Day 1: 14mi/3200'
I wake up to a bright orange and purple sunrise coming from over the ridge behind me. I hear a couple bugs buzzing, so I pack up and make my coffee, skipping breakfast. I start heading towards my next water crossing. About half a mile goes by, I realize I left my gaiters line-drying at camp. I drop pack in the middle of trail and jog back. Great start to my biggest day.
I get to the Coe runoff, and am glad to see carefully placed logs that made crossing pretty easy if you have any sort of balance - slipping would still be very bad and be trip ending. I push on after collecting water, having a poo, and eating a snack. I pass by Elk Cove, lots of campers in spots clearly marked "No Camping in Meadow". I then come to another crossing at Ladd, this was pretty straightforward, I just stepped across a couple rocks using my poles to vault. I get to Cairn Basin shortly after. There is a pretty neat stone shelter there, also lots of established camping sites in the surrounding area. I'd like to come back there in the future.
Next is the slog up and around to Ramona Falls. This is now my first step heading back south, leaving the north side of the mountain behind me.
I pass a million day hikers again, Ramona is probably one of the most popular destination hikes on the mountain. I break at the falls and lay down on the ground for a couple minutes, eating another snack.
In pure stupidity, I miss a turn by checking out a super cool campsite and start walking a full mile down the trail to where everyone parked their cars. Seeing as I had a goals for the day, I powered back up that hill passing everyone twice, slightly awkward. "Going back??" a few said.
I get back on course and make my way down to the next water crossing.
The Sandy is very wide and would really suck if the water was higher. There were logs propped up the cross a section, I crossed with only one wobble that made my heart skip a beat. Another potentially trip ending swim.
I fill up one liter of water. Seeing as there is a marked stream half way up the next, and me not wanting to carry more than I had to up the next big push before my intended camp.
So … there was no water there and I'm dying. I shouted in anger a couple times. Next two "streams" were dry. I'm now rationing the last few ounces of water and starting to go into a bad head space. I push and shove myself up this trail, knowing for a fact there is water at Paradise Park. After 3.3mi and 2300' from my last water fill. I arrive to the first human I'd seen since the Sandy, filling their water for the night. I immediately pound my fill of water and dump the rest on my head. All while exchanging general pleasantries in the process.
I find a spot to camp, super pretty for a sunrise on the mountain, but it's very exposed. Fog was rolling through, leaving droplets. I make the smart decision to regain my composure - I decided I know of three spots half a mile down that are more sheltered. I run into a couple and I ask them if they saw campers in the next mile. They hadn't seen anyone, so I know that I'm golden and can finally end my day. I get there, it's great, probably my favorite spot so far. I set up and go to bed.
After an hour or two. I arrive at the lodge, I go in to grab a much needed beer, and sit out on the balcony and destroy several items still left in my food sack. I still have to get to Mt Hood Meadows before my journey is complete.
I dump my trash here and lose a bit of weight. I make my way northeast to leave the boundary area and make my way down the ridge to get to the White River crossing, my last obstacle. Crossing is fine, like most of the others. Coming up the bank and approach to Meadows was brutal. I'm wiping sweat every 30 seconds and stopping for 10 seconds every quarter mile.
I finally finish all of the uphill, and a wave of hype come over me, I bang out the last mile and end my recorded track.
I was unsure if I could do it, but I did. I dropped my pack and laid down for an hour, going through my phone. Longest extended hike, also solo.
3 days/ 2 nights
9700ft of gain.