A trip to Mt. Hood, and the legendary Timberline Lodge

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A trip to Mt. Hood, and the legendary Timberline Lodge

Friday, June 29th through Saturday, June 30th

 

Friday Night

Earlier this week was Sarah’s birthday!  She’s a whole year older – and since it’s a pretty major birthday, we figured that it was worth going all out to celebrate.

Where better than the slopes of Mt. Hood, at the Timberline lodge?

I mean, not that Sarah knew that’s where we were going, of course.  I had told her that we were going North, to Seattle, where I’d bought VIP overnight tickets to see a previously unreleased musical remake of the famous Ben Stiller movie Tropic Thunder.  I mean, part of a birthday surprise is the misdirection, right?  And how else would I have convinced her to pack an overnight bag?

So we drove.  When we turned East, instead of North, Sarah called me out and guessed where we were going.  I mean, I’ll admit that the misdirection wasn’t the strongest, since she hates musicals and knows that neither of us really like Tropic Thunder… but I was still hoping that she wouldn’t have guessed our destination on her first try.

But hey.  It’s her birthday, so Sarah deserved a quick win to start out the trip.

Once we had arrived and gotten checked in, we were able to fully appreciate just exactly where we were staying – This is the famous Timberline Lodge.  Huge vaulted ceilings, thick wooden beams surrounding a massive wrought iron fireplace, all topped by the soaring mountain peak above us, still capped with glacial snow.  Our room was a king, with an in-room fireplace stocked with seasoned wood, with views of Mt. Jefferson and the slopes below.  Sarah was ecstatic, and I was slightly ridiculously proud that I’d been able to book us such an awesome room.

Ollie was pretty excited too, I must add.  Yes, Ollie.  The dog.  Didn’t I mention?  Timberline Lodge just opened its doors to canine guests – and our room was one of the special dog friendly rooms set aside.  The best way I can describe Ollie is “a small child, in a candy shop, in Disney World, with a credit card”.  She was seriously tweaking out, running and sniffing and just being the most excited dog to ever exist.

So we left her to relax and decompress for a bit, and had a glorious dinner at the Ram’s Head grill.  Spare ribs and Venison, with paired beers and cheesecake for dessert.  Words cannot describe.

The rest of the evening was spent relaxing and enjoying the room and the views.  The fireplace was used, though I’ll admit that the amount of kindling they provided was pretty weak.  Sarah and I had a nice bonding moment where we used my pocket knife and a log to split one of the other logs into kindling… yeah, we’re pretty inventive and handy.  It was fun though, and honestly a really pleasant evening as we enjoyed the fire and we drifted off to sleep at 6,000 ft with the moonlight illuminating the Southern Cascades.

 

Saturday

Ollie was excited to be at Mt. Hood.  She loves going for hikes on the slopes, and was acting like a toddler on crack.

We woke up at 5:00.

We woke up not because we wanted to, but because Ollie wanted to go for walks.  She’s a monster, sometimes.  But hey – it meant that we could see the sunrise, so… that’s a good thing, right?

It also meant that we were first up for the buffet downstairs, and first up to start into our adventures of the day; which ended up including meeting an old friend from Northeastern!  Gene and his family were here in Oregon to summit Mt. Hood, as part of his 50 highpoints circuit.  Unexpected, but really awesome to be able to see them and catch up for a while.  The breakfast was pretty good too – though I’ll freely admit that Sarah made the better choice: she got the simple buffet, instead of the full buffet that I ordered… while Bacon is always good, the fresh fruits and yogurt that Sarah had was easily as good.

From there, Ollie and I went out on a hike, in order to give Sarah a bit of time to herself to relax, enjoy the mountain, and paint.  We made sure she was impressively nested up outside the lodge, of course, ensuring she had deep supplies of both water, sunscreen, and coffee to keep her energetic.  Our target was ZigZag Canyon, and we made it without too much trouble or fuss – all while keeping in touch with Sarah, thanks to the walkie talkies that we’d thought to bring along.  It was fun!  Nothing too intense, and nothing that would keep us away from the birthday girl for too long, but I think everyone enjoyed the relaxing morning before our drive back into the city.

 

 

Camping out on the slopes of Mt. Hood

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Saturday and Sunday, 23 & 24-June

 

It’d been a while since we’d been camping – Sarah’s leg being broken made it seem impossible, and we were both a bit too frazzled and run down to challenge that.

Enter: our friends David and Naomi.  They have a van.  They camp in this van, and had heard of a good spot to go van camping.  Sarah and I packed up the Mustang and followed them to said campsite.

 

We met them on the trail into the woods – since the Van and the Mustang have pretty similar ground clearance, which definitely made life a bit easier for finding a campsite.  The easy to reach areas were mostly taken already though, so we kept driving deeper down the road into the woods.

And it turned out, that was absolutely what we should have been doing.  Turns out – the best spot is NOT right by the river where everyone else camps. That’s a trick spot.  It’s good, I’m sure, but it’s also close and easy… it’s the protector of the really good spots.  The spots up on the hill, with a perfect view of Mt. Hood.  You know, the spot that we found 🙂

Once we’d settled in and parked Van and Mustang, we set into the tough challenges of relaxing and enjoying the scenery.
  • Start the fire, then set up camp while Sarah starts cooking
  • Chili cheese dogs are delicious.  Ollie is a dog, and is of the opinion that she should have most of them
  • Relax by the fire, then head to bed
  • Sleep in a bit, while Sarah et. al. make breakfast and coffee, while enjoying the view of Mt. Hood
  • Relax at camp for a little as the sun rises, and then head out to Timberline Lodge
  • Hike Eastbound, instead of the usual Westbound… it kind of looks like the moon
  • Hike back, and end up chatting with everyone on the walkie talkie
  • Head to Salmon River Slabs, and do a few quick routes.  They’re fun!
  • Drive on home

Clinging to the rocks of Klinger Springs

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Saturday, 16-June-2018

With her knee still injured, and outdoor adventures out of the picture, Sarah’s taken to living vicariously through me.  To do so, she’s been setting up play dates for me with various climbers that she knows.  This weekend was a climbing trip with two people she’d met during her Advanced Rock class with the Mazamas, on an adventure to a new climbing area that neither of us had been to…

 

The day started early, as it’s wont to do when Mazamas are involved.

I hadn’t met either of the two Patricks that I’d be climbing with today, but we’d been chatting on Facebook for a while, discussing plans and coming up with route ideas and gear selection.  It was good – we were pretty ready, and while it was going to be an early morning, climbing’s one of those things that I’ll very willingly wake up early for.

 

We met up, piled into Pat’s (one gentleman was Pat, the other was Patrick) Subaru, and hit the road!  It was going to be a long drive – just about an hour and a half – but that’s the price we pay here in Oregon to find good rock.

The drive?  Simple, enjoyable, and finished before too long.

The parking?  Kind of sketchy, since it’s just a tiny pulloff on a winding road East of Mt. Hood.

The approach?  Tough.  I packed too much, and don’t like hiking straight up the side of a mountain.  I lived, though.

The climbs?  Well…

  • Blue Grouse – 5.9, Sport, Top Rope – Our warmup route, this one was really fun and pretty straight forward.  I enjoyed it, even though it was sport.
  • Belly of the Beast – 5.8, Trad, Lead – This one was glorious, if a bit tough for me.  I haven’t done much crack climbing since breaking my knee, and the movements are still a bit tough for me.  But I pushed through, slammed gear in, and safely made it up to the top.  I loved the top of it, specifically, traversing out from under a roof, and clipping an anchor out on the face.
  • Ourboros – 5.8, Trad, Lead – This was around the corner from Belly of the Beast, on the far side of the huge basalt column.  I liked this a bit more, since it was a little cleaner and had some better placements, but honestly it wasn’t super different from Belly of the Beast.  The real challenge was remembering when/where to traverse around the arrete to get to the anchors.  I caught myself before I went too far, but poor Pat had to downclimb nearly 6ft to get back to the anchors.
  • Shaken (not to be confused with Shaken) – 5.8, Mixed, Top Rope – this route… was a bit contrived, if I’m being honest.  It looks like a really hard finger crack, but Mountain Project called it a 5.8, so we jumped on it.  But it’s literally 2ft right of a 5.10 sport line.  So… you can easily clip bolts everywhere.  And while the crack looked good… well, this route was really just a face climb with a tiny crack that you could sometimes place gear into.  Meh.

We started up one more route, but unfortunately the rain started seriously threatening almost immediately after Pat headed up.  By the time Patrick was on his way to clean, it was sprinkling… and when he was down, we had rain.

So, we packed up and headed back.  The drive was pretty clean, though I’ll be the first to admit that I had a bit of trouble staying awake for all of it.  I didn’t fully nod off, but I definitely zoned our pretty regularly.

But hey!  That means we went hard!  And I got to explore a new area, so… that’s pretty rad, right?