Hiking up to Elk Meadows for Rosh Hashanah


Monday, 10-Sept-2018

Rosh Hashana, one of the Jewish High Holidays, is traditionally spent in the synagogue, surrounded by family and familiar prayers and wearing our best outfits.  The most working out that we do is alternating between sitting and standing, along with some bustling in and out of the kitchen afterward when making the big dinner.
We didn’t quite follow those traditions this year.
I apologize to my Grandma, but I wasn’t able to find a synagogue that we wanted to attend, and so Sarah and I started looking at some alternative ways to celebrate the New Year – specifically, ways to celebrate that focused on motion and hiking.
Sarah, as usual, took the lead in finding us an excellent hike.  I, in turn, made sure to request the time off (as is traditional, since most companies haven’t even heard of the High Holidays), pack our bags, and prepare a bit of a plan for what we’d eat for the hike.
Eating is key, you recall.  Jewish holidays tend to have a focus on food – even Yom Kippur, when we fast all day, has the breaking the fast as a critical point.  Rosh Hashana is about chicken dinner, apples and honey, and making sure to ring the New Year in as a sweet one.
The day dawned, and the car zoomed toward Mt. Hood.
The target that Sarah had selected was Elk Meadows, on the South Eastern face of the mountain.  It’d be a fairly long drive, but an extremely scenic one – definitely a good way to start the New Year.  But we also held with another important aspect of Rosh Hashana – reflection.  Rosh Hashana starts what are called the “Days of Awe”, where one is supposed to reflect on their past year prior to Yom Kippur.  In that vein, Sarah and I discussed our various upbringings, Religion, and how the previous year had gone… along with how the current course of the year seemed to be going.
Honestly, it was surprisingly positive when considering how rough this past year has been.  Moving, being unemployed, injuries, challenges… we’ve been overcoming them all, and are honestly in a far better place than we were before.
Okay, that’s a lot of backstory.
We got to the trailhead.  It was beautiful.  It was a bit rainy, but we both put on our big-kid pants (along with our no-less-helpful rainpants), shouldered our packs, and started in.  Ollie had her backpack too, of course, and was running her usual role as outrider – making sure no interesting smells or food could sneak up on us without her having first thoroughly investigated them.
The hike in was lovely – a really pleasant increase in distance and elevation gain from our previous weekend’s hike to Veda lake.  It wasn’t extremely long, but it was definitely an increase in both duration and difficulty… which is good, since increasing difficulty is the best way to ramp up strength and become unstoppable juggernauts of endurance.
Past that… it was hiking, you know?  We chatted, walked, chatted some more, and even took a short break at one point!  Super exciting stuff.
The most exciting was the meadow though – Once we arrived, we seriously had to just take a few minutes to sit and enjoy the views.  Elk Meadows is up at elevation – right around 5,200 ft, in fact – and right on the steps of Mt. Hood.  it’s gorgeous; a huge rolling alpine meadow with a few copse of trees connected by little streams and rolling grass.  Even better, we found what we assume to be a trail maintenance crew camp!  We’re talking a little area complete with table and chairs (made of cut trees), tree benches, and a perfect view over the meadow toward Mt. Hood.
With a camp like that, there’s no way we could have found anything better.  Time to stop, and enjoy a Rosh Hashanah lunch!
Lunch was:
  • Apples and Honey.  Obviously.  But two types of apple, and two types of honey!  Because we’re fancy.
  • Hot Cocoa.  Not just regular cocoa either; Sarah mixed us up some rather impressive cocoa ahead of time, and kept it in a thermos so that it’d be nice and warm.
  • Sandwiches, made fresh!  These.  These were the key.  I was dreaming about these sandwiches all day as we hiked.  Fresh baguette.  Thin sliced Fuji apples.  Brie, spread over the whole piece of bread.  Cured prosciutto.  Drool!

And it was a glorious lunch.  Perfect views, perfect company, and perfect weather.  A little chilly, which was ideal for the Cocoa to help warm us right back up.


After lunch we rested a bit, and explored the meadows.  It was pleasant and relaxing – we’d left our bags, and so just wandered for a bit, enjoying the breeze and the sun and the open air.  Lovely.

The hike back?  Ehh, nothing too special, honestly.  We passed a family who was on their way up to the meadows who’d never seen a dog as… energetic… as Ollie, which was definitely entertaining, but aside from that it was just fun and pleasant.

The drive home was the same – nothing to really write home about, though we did stop to get some excellent black cherry lattes to help fuel our return drive, and continue the tradition of starting the New Year off sweetly.



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