Tag Archives: Mt. Hood

July 4th at Elk Meadows


Monday, 04-July-2022

Let’s see… it’s been just about two months since my last excursion to Elk Meadows. Not too bad! Means I’m finally branching out, at least a little bit, right? Maybe?

Ehh, you know what? It’s all good – I love Elk Meadows, and it’s a perfect hike for me. A nice drive, a simple walk, and beautiful views that never fail to stun the senses and alight the mind. Just… yeah. Wait ’till you see these.

So July 4th was a bit weird this year… The world isn’t doing super great, if we’re being candid, and I know a lot of folks are skipping July 4th due to a distinct lack of independence and freedom… But you know what? It’s a day off work, and I don’t usually go in for big celebrations or fireworks anymore anyways.

I mean… don’t get me wrong, I do miss fireworks, but… After so many years curled up with Ollie in the closet comforting her against the explosions and scary sky noises I’ve kinda grown accustomed to not going out. Combine that with the whole pandemic and everything and… yeah. I’m okay with laying low and going for a hike instead.

I met up with my friend Lexi, quite spontaneously as it turns out. She’s been in the States for quite a while, but somehow her Australian origins meant that she’d forgotten that the 4th is actually a holiday… dangers of working in Academia, I guess? People don’t tell you that you don’t need to go into the lab that day, when there isn’t really a scheduled work schedule?

Anyways. We were texting as I ate my brunch, and made a spur of the moment decision for her to join in, and for us to get some miles under our boots together.

It was an absolutely gorgeous day – with just a bit of clouds scraping over Mt. Hood as we ascended up toward the meadow. Lots of stops for photo ops, and lots of good time chatting and enjoying the weather and good company.

We even saw a snake, and tons of tadpoles!

Yeah. Hike. Hard to type a story about it… we explored, walked around, visited my favorite campsite and lounged at the shelter for a bit. Then hiked down, enjoyed more views and photo ops… and even hit up the Timberline Lodge on the way back into Portland!

Since Timberline didn’t have quite a… extensive selection in terms of food (in short – COVID’s hit them hard, and all they had were a few appetizers), so instead I headed back home for dinner. Dropped Lexi off in Portland, said goodnight, and then braced myself to brave the July 4th traffic on the way home.

Because, you see dear reader, I have the benefit of hindsight to know that the highway would be jammed due to the fireworks. Not because of people driving… no. No, that would make sense! Instead, the highway had become a parking lot for people watching the fireworks on the river.

Which… seems… slightly unsafe, to me, but then again I am very prissy about “not parking on highways” and “using roads to drive on”.

So I got home, thankfully no worse for wear, and made tortellini. It was delicious.

The Timberline Trail to Paradise Park doesn’t exist in the winter


Friday, 04-Mar-2022

As the title subtly alludes to… the Timberline Trail going West from the Timberline Lodge, on Mt. Hood, doesn’t really exist in the winter.

I wasn’t aware of that fact, before suggesting this hike.

Now, however, since crossing two terrain parks and who knows how many ski runs… well, now I know. It sticks in your memory. Feels strange, looking both ways and then sprinting across a ski run… and I felt bad, even after multiple ski patrol folks told us that it was totally okay, since I felt like I was just messing up the snow for everyone.

I’m getting ahead of myself. On Friday, I went hiking with some friends!

We’d been debating where to go, but ended up sticking with the tried-and-true tactic for winter: Head toward Mt. Hood, get some elevation, and hike on the snow. Elk Meadows hadn’t been particularly passable the last time I’d been up, and Mirror Lake had already been done, so… where to? I haven’t been to Paradise Park before, and it’s got a few good intermediary destinations, so up we headed!

The drive was easy; stopping at a friend’s house to borrow some snowshoes (he’d planned on joining us, but was feeling under the weather), and grabbing a baguette sandwich for our lunching pleasure, didn’t delay us anything – we parked pretty easily, without stress or mess or even waking up too early.

We geared up, headed in, and… couldn’t find the trail.

I’d originally targeted the route I normally take – Go up a little bit, then connect to the climbers trail and connect over to the timberline trail. But with the snow… I mean, it’s a popular trail, right?? I expected at least some signs to be visible, if not a fully packed down trail!

But man… it just wasn’t there.

We tried circling the lodge, looking for a different trailhead.
We tried asking a ski patrol member about details.
We tried following GPS, looking for the evident paths through the trees.
We tried following my memory of landmarks, angling toward buildings and cell phone towers.

In the end, we finally got out of the bounds of the resort. If we were on trail though, I couldn’t really say… the GPS said we were close, but… man, who knows? All I knew was that it was beautiful, and the weather was stunning. The photos came out well, but even they don’t quite do it justice… the stark bleakness of the landscape, contrasted with the bright green of the trees and the blue skies, was excellent.

We went West as long as we could, until we hit an insurmountable barrier – Little ZigZag canyon. It’s usually a quick and easy traverse – down and back up. But with the snow, a cornice had formed on the far rim, a cornice that we weren’t remotely prepared to navigate.

(Ed Note: For those not versed in mountaineering speak, a “Cornice” is a lip of ice that forms over the any sharp(ish) ledge where wind regularly blows. They can be beautiful, but are also a very real hazard for snow travel, since they can break off unexpectedly… either dropping someone standing on top, or triggering a slide that can hit or bury people below. Check out the link here for more info:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snow_cornice)

With that barrier ahead of us, we changed course and headed upward, toward the Silcox hut at the bottom of the Palmer Glacier. We didn’t really have a goal in mind, just the enjoyment of being up on the mountain… so up seemed as good a direction as any.

I don’t really have much else to add here. You know the story about hiking – we walked, we chatted, we stopped to take photos, and we had a grand old time. Hung out with some ravens, chatted with the ski patrol folks as they shut down the lift and headed down.

We stopped in at the Timberline Lodge after our adventure wrapped up – The Ram’s Head is one of my favorite places to get an after-hiking meal, and we didn’t find it wanting. Huge glasses of cocoa, and a skillet full of meatballs, fortified us for the beautiful sunset drive home…

An excellent ending to an excellent day.

Hiking up the White River Glacier


Friday, 18-Feb-2022

By this time last year, I think I’d hiked up the White River Glacier at least twice… backpacking both times, if I’m recalling correctly.

Kind of strange… this year I’ve been on just as many adventures, but for some reason backpacking hasn’t really been on my goals list. I’m not sure why, but I just haven’t been feeling is quite as much. Work stress, world stress, or just a general desire to relax by the fire on my couch, I can’t say.

What I can say, is that I’ve been reaching out a bit more, and that I’ve been getting the chance to do things with friends in town more. Like today, when I met up with another Ben to hike up the White River Glacier!

Looking through my notes, it’s been just about 11 months since my boots have touched this glacier. 11 months of adventure and fun, but 11 months is definitely a long time to not see one of my favorite hikes! When we were debating where to go, the answer came pretty quickly – it’s time to re-visit some great views of Hood on a lovely relaxing slope!

I… Uhh… I don’t have much else to say about this one, honestly.

We met up in Portland, grabbed some sandwiches (heck yeah baguettes!) and had a great time escaping the office and getting into nature. Since we met through work, we definitely talked a bit more shop that was strictly optimal… but it’s important to get the chance to vent about frustrations, and no one can quite understand the challenges of work than someone else FROM work, you know?

We talked, we hiked, and we appreciated the cold snowy air.

It was a very good day.

As a bonus, after finished the hike we hung out for a bit at his place in Portland – ordering some burgers, giving me some puppy-cuddle time, and even watching the first few episodes of Peacemaker.