Tag Archives: Hiking Mt. Hood

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.

 

 

Ramona Falls hike

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Ramona Falls hike

Exploring a popular hike on Mt. Hood.

Thursday, 06-July-2017

 

There are nearly infinite hikes on Mt. Hood – and they’re all gorgeous.  To keep pushing my endurance and hiking, we picked one of the simpler ones this time… While doing Dog Mountain was awesome, it was definitely too strenuous.  moving a bit slower was the name of the game.

We picked Ramona Falls – an extremely popular trail on the side of Hood that ends in a beautiful waterfall cascading down the side of a basalt rock face.  It’s not short, but doesn’t have a huge elevation gain.  Perfect for recovery and endurance.

 

Basic details

Distance: ~ 7.5 miles

Elevation change: ~1000 ft

Views:  See pictures!

01-April-2016, the first assault on Mt Hood (no, not an April Fools day prank!

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01-April-2016, the first assault on Mt Hood (no, not an April Fools day prank!

Friday morning, 01-Apr-2016  (Like… seriously early morning.  Sort of 31-March-2016 evening, even)

 

I see it sometimes, biking home from work.

I’ve seen it most mornings, driving from Portland into Hood River.

And from Horsethief, it’s a lone Beacon against the sky.

 

Mt Hood can’t be missed where I live.

That means I need to climb it!

While exploring in Seattle Sarah had noticed that the weather over the next week would be beautiful – sunny, warm, and no snow/rain in the Mt. Hood area.  Which is ideal weather for a summit attempt; the key is that the sun will bake down the snow, thickening it up and making hiking much easier.  And Mt. Hood is best hiked in the winter, since the snow fields hold the loose rock together, and in one section actually form a ramp that gets you through the caldera of the volcano.

So we planned it up, found a third person who wanted to come along (or, more accurately, Sarah and Stacy invited me to be their third) and made the plans to make the attempt!

 

We all met up at 11:30 PM on 31-March in the parking lot of the Timberline Lodge. Sarah and Stacy were already napping when I arrived, so I took their lead and curled up in the back of the Mustang for a few quick minutes of sleep.  Then at 12:30 we roused, packed up, filled out forms, and headed up!

 

The walk… well, it’s long. The real killer is that we hiked by headlamp… which caused shadows which made me think that the trail was leveling out just barely a dozen yards ahead.  When, of course, it was just as steep as before, continuing onward and upward in a never ending trudge of alpine suffering.

So I kept walking.

We took a short break, and I collapsed onto the crash pad I’d brought as a seat.

We started up again, and I kept walking, following Sarah and Stacy upward.

We started smelling the fumaroles – volcanic vents from the core of the mountain (yes, Hood is a volcano… a mostly dormant one).  The vents spewed out sulphuric gas… not especially dangerous unless you’re in the vent itself, and even then it takes (from what I hear) hours for a person to suffocate from the exposure.  But even hiking up… you can smell them.  Rotten eggs, a stench that isn’t overpowering… but it’s there.

Combining the smell with the altitude… I was having trouble.  I haven’t ever really hiked above 4,000ft, and here we were at 8,000+.  I had a headache, and my legs were tired.  But what else is there to do?  I kept walking.

 

The sun started to peek over the ridge line.  We kept walking.

 

Finally… I couldn’t keep walking.  Sarah coaxed me upward another hundred yards, to a spot where the slope leveled off and I could lay out to rest.  Those steps were seriously some of the hardest that I’ve ever taken in my life… my crampons were slicing into the ice, and my axe kept me balanced… but they didn’t help.

I kept dropping to my knees every few steps.  I wasn’t even hungry, and water wasn’t helping me out at all.

So, I rested.  Sarah rolled out my pad.  Stacy pulled out the sleeping bag that we’d brought in case of emergency.  I drank some water, ate some food, and slept.

 

While I was out, the ladies hiked a bit farther – around a fin called Illumination Rock.  Stacy headed down from there, while Sarah came back to check on me.  We rested, then headed back down the mountain.

 

 

The drive home was difficult, but we made it.  I slept like a log, passing out as soon as we got back to the house.  The rest of the weekend was relaxing – recovering, mostly.  Taking Ollie for some playtime in the Columbia River, and enjoying being at sea level once again.