Just about five years ago, shortly before getting married, I spent three days circumnavigating Mt. Hood in Oregon with my then 15-year-old sister. Marissa, or Roo as she is affectionately know in our family, and I had wanted to complete this hike ever since a day hike on Mt. Hood in 1994 where we hiked 3 miles from Timberline toward the Mississippi Head, a large rock cliff to the west of Timberline. When we turned around to head back to Timberline, we both felt the pull of the trail as we curiously imagined a journey that would continue around the mountain. So the following year we set off from a point just past the Mississippi Head area to discover what only our imaginations had seen that previous summer. The following are exerts from my hiking journal. Enjoy.
Journey on Mt. Hood with Roo 8-24-95
11:30 AM – Roo and I are already on the trail. It’s been uphill, but not too bad. Here on the west side of Mt. Hood lush northwest forests, small creeks and large ferns abound. We’ve been going at a good pace for a couple hours now. Conversation has slowly died off, as the trail and walking become automatic. I’m so glad we’re here. It’s beautiful and awesome to be alive. Lots of interesting mushrooms and fungi around. We’ve stopped for a short water break. Animal crackers too.
1:56 PM – OUCH! It’s been all uphill. We’ve been going up a ridge for an hour or so and found a nice clearing to eat lunch. We are on the southwest side of Hood now, with a broken view of the peak itself as it is partially hidden by heat convection clouds. The sun warms me to the core.
It’s been a while since I’ve been able to just think and have no deadlines to dictate my thoughts. Nature is soothing. Spending time with Roo is time well spent or invested. I should say…
9:12 PM – I’m so glad to be out here. I’m gonna be sore tomorrow, that’s for sure! Being here with my sister is really unique and quite a priceless experience. We ate a good pasta dinner, hot cocoa, crackers, mmm…here at the timberline. The north side of Hood is quite lush despite it being August. The constant melt from the glaciers above have kept this area as lush as a garden. Wildflowers, lichen, and small bushes are racing against time as winter arrives early and stays late here on the north side. The glaciers are breathtaking here on the north side. Big blue walls of ice. I lay here with the barks of coyotes in the distance and owl hooting nearby. The stars are plentiful. The silhouettes of pines guard my view to the north. The clouds dispersed just before sundown leaving the mountain basking in an orange glow. The trail offers many acquaintances. Bed is calling…
12:17 PM – Cloud Cap – OUCH! I am sore. I think I’ve got some blister action. We’ve only seen a couple people so far. Through the binoculars I saw ski tracks of the top of Hood. It’s a clear day. Wish those tracks were mine. Wishing we were at Timberline. The next 5-1/2 miles are up to 7300′, then down to 5600′. We are at 5000′ now. We laugh a lot as conversation comes and goes. The mountain takes on different characteristics with each view. Elliot glacier is massive! Cliffs, crevasses, icefalls, and rock. It’s bound to get cooler. I feel so blessed to have the health and strength to do this. Sisters are cool.
Lots of trees, a slight breeze (a cool one), the buzz of flies and the chirping of birds. Breakfast was awful! Roo keeps laughing about my feeble attempt at oatmeal this morning. I had the oatmeal in bowls and cocoa in cups awaiting the boiling water. I poured the water in both bowls and cups, thinking that I would get it all done in one pour. I stirred the cocoa first and when I got to the oatmeal it was one big lump. Lumpy would give the impression that there were multiple lumps. Both bowls contained one lump each. Roo took one bite and dug into her pack for fig newtons. I ate the lump. I tried to give the impression that it was enjoyable. She laughed (and mumbled something) while eating her figs.
2:11 PM – Water stop. After nearly depleting all our water and climbing nearly 2000′ we are taking advantage of this small glacier fed stream. I’m tired, my steps become smaller. Roo has untold energy and has pushed me forward the last 2 1/2 miles. Well above the timberline now, it appears a desolate rocky tundra with snow fields about. We’ve crossed many. I wonder if I look as ragged and worn as I feel? Perhaps. I see for miles, 180 degrees. Mt. Adams to my left, farmlands ahead to the east, and hills to my right. What’s the rest of the world doing right now that’s so important? Not this.
6:00 PM – Just put up the tent and taught Marissa to make a fire – one match, no paper. She’s over there keeping it going, just as proud as ever. I’m cooking. My feet ache. I’ll put them in the river soon.
8:27 PM – In the tent, my eyes hurt. Sleep is coming. Had 3 blisters – oh yea! Roo and I are close friends. This is good. The mountain and surroundings are really quite spectacular. We are camped near a river (a creek rather) and just below “Pluto Bowl” – a ski run I have enjoyed. Another night in communion with nature. It’s great to be alive.
6:34 AM – I’m up early today to watch the sun rise upon the mountain and to feel the cool morning breeze. It’s interesting that when I camp I rise early with ease yet at home I need Herculean strength to pry myself out of bed before 8. I sit upon a large rock in the creek bed, in solitary. The sun won’t be upon me for another 45 minutes or so. The SE face of Hood appears massive. Very wide and cluttered by rock and glaciers. The morning rays of sun are seen across the valley. Beaming.
1:34 PM – We’re here – Timberline lodge. My body aches. Even my fingers, thus making writing a task. It was beautiful today as we crossed Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Area. We stopped under 4 Bowl for snacks. As we arrived at the junction of the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) we laughed so hard I fell to my knees. We had the goofies…laughing about whatever. It’s been an awesome trip. I think we’ve grown closer. I think that when I have children that I’ll do stuff like this. It’s not easy, but worth it. Is anything easy ever really worth it? I just spent 3 days of my life on a mountain, where were you?
Well, I now have a little boy, McKinley, who is 14 months. As this summer approaches we’ll really see if I “do stuff like this.” I best hurry off to shop for a pack to carry him in…