Tag Archives: Snow

Hiking McNeil Point – 24-Oct-2020

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Saturday, 24-Oct-2020

Mt. Hood is beautiful, year round.

Sun, rain, clouds or fog… it doesn’t really matter. It doesn’t matter what sort of coat Hood is wearing, the views are always breathtaking.

Today was a good example of that: the forecast called for rain, changing into snow as the elevation increased. The trailhead would be a light mist, and McNeil point itself would be cleanly into the sub-freezing temperatures.

Did that stop us?

Heck no! That just meant that the trailhead would be empty!

The hike was glorious – I clocked a total of 11 miles and ~2,800ft elevation gain… though the official count is supposed to be 10.4 miles & 2,200ft gain. Meh, I’ve been working out more, and thankfully it wasn’t too bad of a hike. Made easier by a, frankly silly-large, breakfast order from Starbucks…a Danish, egg bites, and a burrito… on top of a pumpkin-spice latte. Yup. I’m cool.

I went with my friend Bri – McNeil point is her happy place, and I was really thankful to go with someone who knows the trail as well as she does. We walked, gasped at the views, and took breaks to chat, eat snacks, and enjoy the perfectly crisp air.

I love hiking up into the mountains in the fall – as the miles vanished beneath our boots, the trees got more and more snow-covered, and the trail crunched just a little bit more under each footfall. I never had to put on crampons, and we didn’t really see any true snow on the ground, but the thin layer of frost and ice that covered everything added that perfectly mystical quality to the whole world.

We had two lunches – various snacks that we’d brought, along with my standard French sandwich (apple, brie, and prosciutto on a baguette) – one at a beautiful rock about 3 miles in, and then the second lunch at McNeil point itself beside the shelter. We took a few other breaks too… but mostly just pressed onward slowly but steadily.

When we did get to McNeil point itself, we were greeted with the bluest skies of the day – The clouds didn’t fully clear, of course, but they did open up just enough for us to see the summit of Hood peaking out through the mist!

We took a shortcut on the way up, a steeper side trail that Bri knew about, but on the way down we took the longer / more scenic route – just in time to be greeted by our second clearing of the clouds for Sunset!

See, that’s another advantage to cloudy days; the sunsets are especially vibrant, and we caught a beautiful spot where we could see one layer of clouds above us, and one layer below of scraping over the mountains in the distance, being lit up a vibrant red as the sun dipped below the horizon.

We watched the sun dip below the horizon.

Well, we’d brought headlamps, since hiking out in the dark was always a very real possibility. Daniel would have been proud too – after one of the headlamps died, and is USB-charge only so I couldn’t just replace the batteries, we pulled out our phones and used the extra battery there as a flashlight… Not that we really needed it, thanks to the light of the moon… but still. Better to have headlamps.

Back to the car, then down from the trailhead and into town for dinner.

Where we learned a second lesson – dive bars don’t always have pub-food.

Sometimes, they have some of the best fried chicken and grilled cheese sandwiches that I’ve ever eaten. Also, the spiciest cajun fries.

Yeah. It was a very good day.

Snow in March!

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Saturday, 14-Mar-2020

Alert! Snow! Alert! It’s snowed in Portland!

That’s pretty much it. I got excited. Not enough to shovel, but it stuck for a solid few hours!

Yay Snow! Ollie and I took a long walk in it, all the way down to where the Cherry Trees were blooming by the river – a few miles, and a beautiful day for it!

 

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.