Tag Archives: Timberline lodge

Backpacking to Paradise Park


Friday and Saturday, 04-Aug-2023 and 05-Aug-2023

Son of a…

Razzme-frazzme stupid forgetful…

How could you…

I couldn’t have…

Having to turn around…

Okay, starting at the beginning.

I forgot to put the battery pack and my lunch box in the car when I left the trailhead.

How the heck did I… Okay, who knows?

I finally backpacked all the way out to Paradise Park! I had my pack, my sword, and I even hiked the first part of it twice because I loved it so much and not because I realized that I left things on the roof of the car when it was likely to rain.

Yup – Brought the sword along with me. Legal in Oregon, and it would be invaluable if I ran into any ORCs (Oregon Research Cosplayers). Heh, yep, that’s the joke I kept telling people.

The hike was beautiful – The wildflowers were in full bloom, and I had a good mental map of the route thanks to having hiked out a few weekends prior. I took my time, enjoyed the weight of the pack, and appreciated the scenery. I snacked, read my book, and soon enough had camp set up in a nicely sheltered stand of trees a nice distance from the trail.

That night, I spent some time practicing forms with the sword that I’d learned a lifetime ago when I helped teach longsword at that one summer camp, and happily watched as the sky caught fire in the distance.

The next morning dawned a bit misty, which felt perfect for a bit of a wandering walk around. I left my camp set up, so I wouldn’t have to carry the full pack weight as I explored, and walked to and fro along the Timberline trail. I didn’t go too far, maybe a few miles in each direction… just far enough that I got some excellent sights and good miles in. I found some interesting placards, and even found a beautifully made labyrinth up on one of the alpine trails above the main area.

Interesting trivia fact – by technical definition, Labyrinths aren’t mazes. Labyrinths only have a single path, with no offshoots, which means you can’t get lost in them… instead, they’re treated similarly to a scholar’s garden and can be intended as a meditation. “Walking the labyrinth” is a lesson in mindfulness, and an opportunity to simply appreciate the surroundings you find yourself in.

I took that to heart, when I found this labyrinth laid out in small stones, across a rocky part of Mt. Hood.

I walked in circles, appreciating each area and making a point to experience each view that it brought me to. I walked slowly, without rush, and appreciated each little bit of the environment I was in.

It was lovely, and a beautiful opportunity to re-center myself before the hike out.

Of the hike out… there’s not much to say. I hiked it, and quickly enough found myself back at the car. Too late to have dinner at the Lodge, but just the right time to order some chicken from dominos on the drive back.

My friends come to visit – A drive around Mt. Hood


Saturday and Sunday, 20-May-2023 and 21-May-2023

Ohh man… it’s been a while since I’ve gotten to hang out with Dave! I think the last time was when I was still living in Hood River… and all I really remember was that we had a fire on the porch, wrapped Dave up in a sheepskin rug, and had him pose with a dwarven sword and a battle axe.

Those’re the kind of things we remember.

Anyways, Dave and his wife Lakay came to visit in May!

Saturday, 20-May-2023

Technically this story begins on Friday night… but the summary for Friday was “Dave and Lakay got into the airport, we drove home, hung out for a bit, and then fell asleep.” Simple and easy.

The real adventure begins on Saturday morning.

Our goal for this visit was to… well, visit! But every good visit needs a framework, and we settled in on doing something I haven’t really done before – visiting spots from a movie! Lakay is pretty into Twilight, and since it was filmed in Oregon and Washington we had an awesome opportunity to check out a few spots from the movies. The main town of Forks, up in Washington, was a bit out of reach for a weekend trip… but thankfully a few spots were nice and nearby.

Our plan for the day was simple and elegant: Relaxed morning, movie location lunch, then do a clockwise tour around Mt. Hood!

Breakfast was a nice meal at home, followed by some catching up and prepping for the days adventures ahead.

Then, our first stop on the tour – The Carver Cafe! Apparently it was a whole scene in the movie, and the super neat part was that we got seated exactly where the main actors sat in that scene!

From there, the legendary Multnomah Falls! Kinda interestingly, I ran into a coworker there who owns property in Oklahoma near Dave and Lakay… kinda weird, but definitely cool!

Then, a quick stop for views of Hood, a drone flight or two, and a it of poking around the White River sno-park.

Finally, our ultimate destination of the tour – The Timberline Lodge! We got to play on the snow a bit, had an amazing dinner, and then got the best present of all from Mother Nature… a full lightening storm, shattering the sky off to the East of the lodge!

I can’t overstate how cool the storm was – Lightening is much more rare in Oregon than it is in a lot of other spots I’ve lived, so in and of itself it was a treat… but the storm was limited to one specific cloud formation off on the horizon, which meant we could easily just gaze over at it and appreciate the cloud-to-cloud bolts, and knew when to expect the air-to-ground strikes.

We seriously just parked by an overlook, and sat on the hood watching the storm. I don’t know how long we stayed out, but it was at least an hour or so until the sky got dark and the storm finally receded into the distance.

<I didn’t get any pictures of this… forgive me, but my photography-fu isn’t quite strong enough to capture lightening yet>

A seriously good end to an excellent round-the-mountain adventure.

BCEP – An attempt on Mt. Hood


Last year, I took the BCEP class with the Mazamas – Basic Climbing Education Program. It was interesting; a great chance to review my well-trained skills, practice some that I hadn’t used in ages, and get to meet some new climbing and outdoors people. It was fun, and ticked all the boxes that I had hoped that it would.

My faith in the outdoors community reinvigorated, I quickly and happily volunteered to help teach BCEP this year. I was expecting to assist with the same group that I’d taken the class with the previous year, since leaders tend to continue teaching year over year, so I was a bit surprised when I was placed with a different group… but it turns out, this new group was just starting out – the first year the leader had led a BCEP team on their own.

The chance to help out with a new group, and to help build a similar culture of excitement and optimism for the outdoors? All while getting to show people the unbridled joy of rock climbing? Of seeing new views off the side of a mountain?

Well. Sign me right the heck up.

Sunday, 23-Apr-2023

Traditionally, the “final climb” of a BCEP team is an ascent of Mt. Hood… or at least, the offer that students can join the group leader on an attempt. As part of preparation for that possibility, our team decided to give it a partial go the day after Snow School – aiming to leave the Mazamas lodge sometime around 4am, and making an attempt on the top of the Palmer Glacier.

We rose (no shining, I’m sorry to report), we packed, and we made our way to the trailhead… arriving just in time for the freezing rain to start.

In the mountains, conditions aren’t always the same as they are in the front-country… and sometimes things are better or worse than you’d expect them to be. Freezing rain isn’t one of those things. It’s bad in the front country, it’s bad in the back country, it’s just not a good time for anyone. Especially for someone working on a FAR too early wake-up, being tired from the day before, and who doesn’t really like sufferfest trudgeshows in the first place.


That’s describing Ben, right there.

It was horrid. I can’t put it any simpler than that.

I was in a bad place, I freely admit. I was slow – I could try blaming the heavy boots I was wearing (Ed Note: Ben was trying out an ascent in double-plastic technical boots… vaguely twice the weight and half the flexibility) but… in the end, I was the one who chose to wear those boots. I was cranky – I could try blaming the early morning, or the dark, or the rain… but in the end, I was the one who chose to attempt the ascent. I was the last person in line – I could try blaming any number of things, but in the end… I was just a sorry and cranky mess.

I made it up about 1,200 ft vertical before calling it quits. Maybe less, even, since I couldn’t really see anything in the rain and darkness. I’d lost sight of the majority of the team a while ago, not even able to see the headlamps of the spearpoint of the group.

All I saw was two folks ahead of me, and one headlamp coming down toward us…

Jess was along with us, and it turned out that the lamp coming toward us stragglers was her – She was actually having an even rougher time of it than I was, and had hit her limit. Recent injuries gave her a reason to be extra cautious, and she’d made the hard decision to turn around… as an assistant, I was in the position to descend with her and make sure no one was left alone… an opportunity I jumped at.

We descended slowly and carefully, making sure not to leave the path or fall prey to one of the gullies that would cause us to miss the parking lot. We watched as the world grew lighter, shade by shade, never quite reaching daylight. The rain persisted.

Finally, the parking lot appeared and we were able to drop our packs and head down the pavement to the warmth awaiting us. The Timberline lodge reared out of the mist, and we made our way to the main floor, the huge hearths, to let our gear dry while we waited for the breakfast buffet to open.

It was 6am, a full two hours before food was to be had… we’d only been ascending for two hours, though it’d easily felt like half a lifetime in purgatory.

We ate waffles and drank coffee, and slowly became human again.

Drove home, spread the gear out to dry, and appreciated the warmth of my fireplace and the comfort of my couch.