Tag Archives: Mirror Lake

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!

 

Post Thanksgiving adventures – Mirror Lake and Mt Hood… And a huge pretzel!

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Saturday, 30-Nov-2019

 

After Thanksgiving this year, we went hiking!  Two days afterward, we hiked out to Mirror Lake, and then did a few quick steps on Mt. Hood, before relaxing in the Timberline Lodge with cocoa and a huge warm pretzel.

It was excellent.

 

Our first objective was Mirror Lake, on the Tom Dick and Harry trail to the South West of Mt. Hood.  We’d hiked here before, a few times if I recall, but hiking in the snow is always a new experience… the Sun coming through, the snow levels, how much ice and how much melt… it all ties together into making a unique winter wonderland for us to enjoy.

More importantly makes for a wonderland for Ollie to enjoy, since I think the sheer exultation that she felt after we got out of the car was more than both Sarah and I combined.

Before we could get started though, we earned a bit of good Karma – When parking, we ended up parking next to a rather large camper-van vehicle.  One of those pickup campers, where there’s a camper placed into the bed of a standard pickup truck?  Yeah, that.

As we packed up to start hiking, it became readily apparent that the family staying in the camper was having a bit of trouble.  The Dad had the hood open, was trying to turn the engine over, the whole nine yards.  We offered to help, of course, and ended up trying a few things to get them up and running.  After a ton of battling, a simple jump-start was all they needed – We got their engine turned over and making happy noises, all before their kids even realized that anything out of the ordinary was happening.

 

After that quite auspicious start, we headed into the woods and had a glorious time crunching through the ice and snow.  The tree canopy kept the sun pretty dispersed, but every so often we’d get a beautiful beam of light cutting through – it was beautiful, in a very calm and collected sort of way.

There’s not much to be said about the hike aside from that… it was lovely, Ollie spent the whole time sprinting around, and Sarah and I had a great time.  We hiked, we rested at Mirror Lake, and then we hiked back.  It was excellent!

 

After Mirror Lake we were tired, but not quite tired enough to head back to the house just yet… so we headed to Mt. Hood to do a bit more exploring.  The weather on Hood was a far sight from Mirror Lake – without the tree cover, the wind was doing its best to blast us off the side of the mountain and the clouds were at just the right level to cut off most of the direct light from the sun.  The whole scene had this interesting diffused light, painting everything into a beautifully bleak and desolate scene.

We didn’t last too long, thanks to the harsh wing slinging snow and sand at us, combined with the quite chilly temperature.  Thankfully, we’d already tired ourselves out pretty well on Mirror Lake, so we didn’t feel too bad turning around after an hour or so.  Ollie didn’t even seem to mind too much… but then again, we’ve found that it takes at least a day and a half of solid hiking to really tire her out.

 

We headed back to the car, stashed our gear, bundled Ollie up in her blankets, and grabbed a quick snack at the Timberline Lodge.  A cup of cocoa, a mug of coffee, and a huge pretzel kept us company while sitting and reading by the fire – we didn’t stay for too long, since the sun was getting close to setting, but we had an amazing time nonetheless.  A very good ending to a very lovely day.