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Published: October 5th 2009
To see what he could see, to see what he can see. Here is the link to the pictures which is what he could see
Ok, so I am not a bear and I didn't go over the mountain but I did decide to go around the mountain. I had finally found the time to take one of the hikes I intended all summer, I was going to hike the Timberline Trail around Mt. Hood. Ideally this is approximately a 40 mile trail that circumnavigates Mt. Hood. I have heard it is a grueling trail. You spent most time around 6000' but someone told me there is 9000' of elevation change throughout the hike.
This was the case for the trail before the Eliot Branch washout. I'm not really sure what happened here because it was in 2006. Essentially the trail is closed, impassable, and unstable. The solution is to hike out at Tilly Jane and hike back in at Elk Cove. This essentially cuts about 3-4 miles off of the Timberline trail. But of course you gain about 3 miles and a 3000’ descent hiking off the mountain. You then get to take an hour in a car shuttle. The real reward is another 3 miles and 2500’+ feet of
elevation gain to get back to the trail. Really, it’s a great deal.
It would actually make sense to start and end the hike at these two points so you don't have to do the car shuttle in the middle of the trip. That would make sense. But who wants to make sense. We decided to start at Timberline Lodge, largely because my friend Brian could only do 1 night.
So on Labor Day, in the wind, cold, and clouds we set out going east from Timberline Lodge. The first day wasn't all that much to write home about. It was off and on rain, and pretty windy and not really much fun. We even had to skip hot drinks at camp due to poor water management skills. Not that it really mattered, we pretty much all just wanted to get to warm sleeping bags ASAP.
In this first day of hiking we hiked across Mt. Hood Meadows. It is very strange to be standing at the base of a black diamond run with no snow on it. We also found lots of creeks and streams that I had no idea they were even there. It was pretty cool to try and figure out, what snow terrain features we were looking at. The trail goes under many of the lifts and through Heather Canyon.
Day 2 was by far the hardest. This was the day we had to hike out and back in, along with going about 4 miles before getting to Tilly Jane so we could start hiking out. We got some really amazing views of Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Ranier, and Mt. Adams. Yes it was a gorgeous clear day and we could see all of these snow capped peaks. Most of them had new snow on them from the weekend. At about 7000' we encountered snow as well. It wasn't enough to really cause any issues, what it was really pretty and made me think of skiing and well other good times.
We did manage to survive the death march back up to Elk Cove. Jessica even hiked all day in Crocs (she actually hiked all of day 2 and day 3 in Crocs… those shoes can do anything). At Elk Cove we found our best camping spot for the trip. We were camped just outside of a meadow with beautiful views of Mt. Hood. In the morning for a brief moment the mountain was bathed in a red/pink glow as the sun came up. There is a picture of it, see if you can find it.
While Day 3 was by far our longest day, it was also the most beautiful. We actually got tired of stopping to take a pictures of the amazing meadow, with the pretty flowers, and the views of Mt. Hood sticking up behind the meadow. I guess even in one day you can really get spoiled. Oh yeah, did I mention that all of the Washington mountains were visible again.
We elected both for distance and because it was recommended to follow the PCT down to Sandy River instead of staying on the Timberline trail and trying to cross Muddy Fork up high. Forest Service recommends this because the Timberline crossing of the Muddy Fork is now barely maintained and hard to find. Also we were tired and really didn't want to work anymore that we had to.
There isn't much to say about Day 4, another glorious day and well our last. We spent a long time sitting above ZigZag canyon looking at SkiBowl and Mt. Jefferson in the distance.
The trip itself was really pretty intense. Everyday was long enough that we felt we needed to be up by early and on the move. We seemed to start out really well each day but by after lunch we were just plain tuckered and ready to be done for the day… or at least feel we could take a long extended break. (We did take like an hour siesta at Ramona Falls.) Of course every days ending was better than the last, by the end of the third day we were enjoying dinner and after dinner drinks before sunset. That was quite nice. We still had to get up early on day 4, but at least we had some energy to enjoy the sunset and weren’t cooking in the dark on day 3.
But that doesn't matter, it was really worth it all. Even if it did kick our butts.
If I was to do it again, I would definitely start at Elk Cove and end at Tilly Jane. I think I would also stay out 4 nights instead of 3, just to make the days shorter and more manageable.
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