Tag Archives: mt hood

Hiking up to Elk Meadows, and a few other places!

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Saturday, 25-July-2020

 

Laurel showed up with bagel sandwiches.

Bagel sandwiches are an excellent start to any adventure. They’re not the only good start, of course, but as far as starting options go there are few better.

Coffee too, but ever since I first learned about bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches from Galantes (or was it June’s Place?) in Medway, probably 20 years ago, I never looked back.

 

But that’s not what we’re here to talk about, is it? We’re here to hear about hiking!

 

The goal of the day was to head up to Elk Meadows, and then see how energetic we felt… maybe heading to the Timberline Lodge for some extra altitude and milage. A fun hike with good views, but not so intense that we couldn’t talk, or take our time.

The trailhead was surprisingly quiet when we parked – it wasn’t empty, by any means, but there were still spots to be had. For a weekend in Oregon, we took that as a clear win, and a good sign that this was the right trail to be heading up. Parking went quickly, and soon enough we were heading upward.

 

Once we were on the trail, things got exciting!

It’s hiking, guys.

I’m a good writer – I’m creative, and enjoy typing up weird long stories.

But it’s hiking.

 

One foot, then the other foot. Lots of talking and catching up and discussing, but at the end of the day hiking is just foot movement, amazing scenery, and maybe a river crossing every once in awhile. Written words don’t really describe, which is why all those famous books and movies about hiking tend to focus on internal thoughts, and background stories.

But you know what does describe hiking well? Photos!

 

 

 

We walked up to Elk Meadows, walked around Elk Meadows, and then walked back down the trail from Elk Meadows.

But we didn’t go all the way back to the trailhead for Elk Meadows. No, instead of that, we took a side trail off the main Elk Meadows trail, and hiked out to Umbrella falls! Near Elk Meadows.

Elk Meadows.

Umbrella falls was… farther than we expected. Far enough that we actually took a break partway through the hike to sit by a stream and have some sandwiches for lunch – Baguette, Prosciutto, Brie, and Apple of course. Full french style.

Re-energized, we pressed onward to Umbrella. Really similar to Rowena, once I saw it… and really tempting to go and try to find in the winter for some Ice Climbing… if it wasn’t on a ski trail :/

So yeah, Umbrella Falls was cool. We looked at it, stayed away from the people, and then headed back to the car.

It was still early though, and so instead of heading back into Portland, we kept with our original plan of heading up to the Timberline Lodge, to get our hands on some glacier snow! In July!

Yep, you read that right, dear readers. Mt. Hood has snow in July. Snow all year round, actually. Because the Palmer Glacier is, in fact, a glacier! It was fun – we threw snowballs, and then went inside to have dinner in the timberline lodge.

True story – I am not sponsored by the Timberline Lodge. But… similarly to how I think Omega Pacific should sponsor me for always ranting about how awesome their cams are, I think that Timberline should comp me a meal or two based on how much I tell people about that place.

I mean, it looks like a dwarven fortress! What more do you want? Amazing Reubens? They have those! Hot Cocoa! They have that too! What more could I ask for??

ehemm. Yes. We played on the glacier, then went for dinner, and then rocked the drive back into Portland with the top down, and the mountain wind in our hair.

It was a good day.

Hiking the Top Spur trail to some amazing views of Hood

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Saturday, 18-July-2020

 

After climbing at French’s, we were tired.

 

But, Bri is a somehow near limitless font of energy when it comes to climbing and hiking, and insisted that we do a quick trek to see a viewpoint nearby.

Man, do you think I’d say no to an extra viewpoint, just because I’m tired? Heck no!

 

We put away the climbing gear, put the top down on the car, and drove.

The poor Mustang didn’t know what it was in for – if I thought the roads in Northern California were rough, this road showed me what the Mustang could really do. Ditches, rocks… heck, man, the Dawn worked its way around every single one.

 

(Ed Note: If you don’t remember, Ben’s Mustang is named the “Forward Unto Dawn”, since it came to him at a fairly major turning point in life, transitioning from a really rough time into a really great time)

 

We made it to the trailhead after much careful piloting, and were even able to find a parking spot right near the signpost – there were cars for nearly half a mile down the road in each direction, but thankfully it was late enough in the day that the lot was thinning out pretty impressively. We parked, refilled our water, and headed in.

The hike itself was pretty mellow, and the enjoyment was primarily from the conversation, and just being out in the woods. It was lovely, and I enjoyed every minute of being shown a new trail to explore. Bri led the way, and I was perfectly happy to just tag along and explore a new place.

 

When the view arrived, I wasn’t expecting it. It was absolutely one of those “la la la trail trail BOOM AMAZING VIEW” situations. Out of nowhere – full view of McNeil Point, and the summit block of Mt. Hood. It was glorious, and I absolutely understood the popularity of the trail in that single view.

It was a good hike, to say the least.

 

 

After the hike, I drove home and saw a funny sign at the gas station.

Then I made dinner.  I didn’t make a healthy dinner.  But it was a tasty dinner!

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!