Tag Archives: Hiking Mt. Hood

A long staycation on July 4th – Hiking on Hood

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So my company was hit pretty hard by COVID-19, and instituted a 10% furlough program. Reduced pay, but balanced by various furlough days scattered throughout the year… primarily around holidays. July 4th was one of those, which meant that I had Thursday through Monday off from work – the 2nd through the 6th. Five full days for adventure!

My original plan was to drive out to City of Rocks in Idaho. I reserved a campsite maybe two weeks beforehand, and started planning out what to bring, and what route to take.

But… It’s a 10 hour drive, shortest route. 11, by the route I was thinking of taking. And that doesn’t include stops for gas, food, and the stretch breaks that I’d absolutely need on a trip that long. I kept trying to talk myself into it, but in the end I just talked myself out of the trip.

I canceled the reservations, and put together a new plan. A staycation, full of relaxation, organizing my new apartment, and re-aquainting myself with the Pacific Northwest…

 

 

Thursday, 02-July-2020

 

The adventure started on a Thursday.

The plan was something a bit non-standard; to hike up Mt. Hood during the day, to see how high up the glacier I could get. Sort of an endurance and altitude acclimatization test, if you will. My goal was to get at least as high as I’d gotten before, and ideally all the way up to the base of Hell’s Kitchen – the caldera of Hood itself.

I wasn’t particularly set on this goal, though. I knew it was pretty ambitious, and ascending in the middle of the day is absolutely not the ideal time. But it’s not dangerous, as long as you consider your surroundings and conditions, so I was looking forward to seeing how I’d do.

The drive out was lovely, but as I got onto the flanks of Hood, and neared Government Camp, I had a realization. I pulled over to confirm, and yes. I’d left my hiking boots at the apartment.

Well, okay. Part of ascending up a glacier is having crampons. I had them, but they were worthless without boots to attach them to. Technically I could probably hook them onto my running shoes… but they’re not waterproof, and that’s a singularly horrible idea.

 

Fine, Hood it out. What else’s around?

A lot, obviously. It’s Mt. Hood, man! I’ve got a whole forest ahead of me! I can go anywhere!

So I went to Tom, Dick, and Harry. It’s a peak that Sarah and I had done before, above the beautiful Mirror Lake – another hike that I’d done pretty regularly recently. Decision reached, I found the parking lot and headed in.

 

It’s July 4th weekend, sort of, so I wasn’t particularly surprised when the trailhead was nearly completely full of cars. I mean, it’s a Thursday… But COVID has everyone home, I guess? Meh, who knows? It’s all good. I parked as far away from people as I could, and headed into the woods.

There were a lot of people, but it’s thankfully not too hard to stay away from folks on trails like this – I admit that I hopped off the side of the trail more times than I’d have preferred, which definitely added some time to the hike, but you know what? It’s worth it.

The hike itself was exactly as I’d remembered it – beautiful, fairly calm, and great views. It was pretty toasty, definitely, but I felt really good. I think it’s all the time wearing a mask at work – seriously, I’ve noticed a definite boost in my hiking endurance, even more than when I was regularly running. It might help that I’ve been biking, and have access to a gym, but… I still think it’s too soon for those to have kicked in any appreciable amount.

You heard it here first, kids. Wearing a mask gives you better endurance. Woo!

 

Anyways, I hiked, it was beautiful, and then I summitted. It’s one of those surprise summits, where you don’t quite realize that you’re already there until you look over and – BOOM – Mt. Hood is standing proud directly in front of you.

It was excellent – Relaxed, had a snack, and even played with / got mobbed by some chipmunks. The “got mobbed by” is quite accurate, actually, since they tried to loot my backpack by starting to climb into the pockets… while it was less than a foot away from me. I feel bad admitting it, but I ended up having to fully kick them away, when yelling, tossing pebbles, and then smacking them with my hands didn’t work. They’re persistent little buggers.

The hike down was quick and painless – I stopped at Mirror Lake to admire the view and take a quick rest, but mostly I just trucked onward down the mountain, and back to the car. In total, I think I did ~1,800ft elevation, and maybe 8 miles. Not bad, especially as the start to an adventure weekend!

 

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!