I gotta say this past weekend was a perfect spring weekend here in Portland. The temps where in the low 80’s with a good breeze coming off the coast. The sky was a crystal clear blue without a cloud in sight. Saturday and Sunday I got outside for extended periods of time and so did a bunch of others.
I started my morning as I often do on a Sunday. The Post, coffee, and music on vinyl before getting my act together and heading up into the mountains. I gathered the last few items for my day bag and hit the road. Such a beautiful weekend for a drive into the mountains.
Initially I plan to hike up another trail but I ran into a problem getting to the trail head. You have to take the fire road which wasn’t a problem for my car. It was the bridge being out over the water being blocked that was my problem. I have no problem going around the sign but when it’s used to close a bridge I will trust the sign and not cross. I headed back to 26 and a near by ranger station a few miles down the road to look for a new hiking spot.
I just wanted to hike in the mountains. If I could get a good view of Mt. Hood all the better but it wasn’t a requirement. It was too nice of a day to not be out and that was my only objective. A few miles up 26 I found another trail called Hidden Lake. This is about a 5 mile hike up to the Pacific Coast Trail further up the mountain. Some recent posts on All Trails indicated this trail was covered in snow which eventually made it impossible. The fact that there was snow intrigue me and was a big reason why I hiked this trail. It’s the middle of May, a perfect spring weekend, and there’s still snow on the mountain? I had to see for myself.
Near the end of the turn off is the trail head. Plenty of parking but its also secluded to be careful not to leave anything in your car. The first portion of the trail was really nice. Steep at times but no visible snow. Nice and cool under the tree canopy this high in the mountains.
About 1 or 1.5 miles up the trail I hit my first patches of snow. It was mostly off trail but they started to appear regularly as I got further up the trail. The snow soon started to cover the trail but I was able to follow the path of those before me and make my way up the trail. By the time I got to the lake I could no longer follow the trail. I couldn’t head further up the trail but I could see the lake so made my way over to it.
There was no trail around the lake so it took a bit of work for me to reach the other side but eventually I did. The side of the lake is pretty steep and the snow made it slow going but worth it. I found a nice spot under a tree and had lunch while I soaked up nature. The entire hike to the lake I never saw another person which was nice. It was cold here too so the misquotes and other bugs where not around to pester me. I ate my snacks and enjoyed the solitude. I managed to get some writing done and even a drew on the cover of one letter I sent.
This late in the season it was awesome to see snow in the mountains. Honestly I should expect this but coming from the lowlands of Virginia we never got this. I certainly want to come back and see the lake without the snow. Also to make it further up the trail with the goal of reaching the Pacific Crest Trail.
This weekend I planned on heading to the burbs in a great adventure to find a Christmas tree. I knew I wanted something real and figured I would just find a potted plant like I did last Christmas and not think about it again. When I was over at Bobby and Tracy’s earlier watching the Skins they mentioned going to Mt. Hood to cut their own trees. Anyone can do it. All you need is a $5 permit and your good to go.
The weather was challenging all day on the mountain. The weekend prior was pretty warm but this weekend was much colder at elevation. As soon as we left Vancouver for the staging house it was raining. Once we got to above 3300′ or so it was all snow. In fact it snowed the entire time on the mountain.
About half way up the mountain we came across this Subaru on the side of the road. You could see the skid marks as the car lost control. Lucky for the two passengers it stayed on the road but just barely. The car had settled on the frame and one wheel. We where in a group of overlanders heading to cut trees so the perfect group you want to run across when you need to be pulled off the side of a mountain. Bobby was second in line with a winch and assisted pulling the Subaru out.
By this point it was already getting into the middle of the afternoon. The constant snow, cold, and wet was getting to me. Bobby was already not feeling well and the kids wanted nothing more then to play in the snow. We got to the top of the mountain and things feel apart rather quickly within the group. I quickly found my tree but Tracy took a little longer to secure her family tree. She kept wanting these 15′ and taller trees which we couldn’t cut. With our tree loaded on the truck we meet everyone further up the trail. It was so cold and wet I couldn’t get a fire going for warmth. It wasn’t long after this we all abandoned the mountain and headed for home. Mt. Hood has beaten on us all day and we had had enough.
None of us felt like doing much, least of all cook dinner. A nice bowl of pho was in order for everyone. Healthy, tasty and warm soup was the perfect thing to end the day.
Before I start my new job I have been taking the opportunity to do some cool stuff when I am not putting my apartment together. On Thursday I had an opportunity to do some four wheeling with Bobby in Gifford Pinchot National Forest. He and a buddy are doing a memorial hike Saturday and wanted to run up the trail in their trucks to make sure it was clear. If any maintenance needed to be done they wanted to do it Thursday and not on Saturday with a bunch of people in their cars. Some of the hikers were starting at the bottom of the trail but others were going to be ferried to the top in Bobby’s truck. With nothing else to do I tagged along for the ride.
First time this far north in Washington and it was something else. It took about an hour to get to the trail head and then what seemed like thirty minutes to the top of the road. Bobby kept saying I could get my car up it but at a certain point you really needed four wheel drive. I haven’t been wheeling in years and it was fun. Let me tell you I utilized the oh shit bar often, trying not to bump my head.
Once at the top we putzed around for a few minutes and did part of the hike to get a better view. The weather was really good and from the parking lot we could see the top of Mount St. Helens. We went further up the trail and eventually we could see Mount St. Helens, Mount Baker, and Mount Adams which was really cool. None of us were ready to finish the hike but it was great getting out before the weather turns real crappy.
After my cross country journey I arrived in Vancouver to my step-sisters house on Thursday. The next day we packed up the car and headed to Walton Lake in the Ochoco National Forest for three nights of camping and to catch the total eclipse of the sun. Central Oregon was suppose to have some of the best watching as it is higher elevation with clear skies. With all the forest fires going on in the area I was surprised that besides Friday afternoon the entire weekend was clear of clouds and smoke.
Tracy and I arrived on Friday and the rest of the family arrived on Saturday. Bobby and the kids had been on a three week journey coming up from southern California seeing the sites and camping all the way to Walton Lake. It was great just spending the weekend hanging out and not doing much. After my 12 day adventure across the country relaxing in nature was exactly what the doctor order. I hiked up Round Mountain with Tracy and that had some spectacular 360 degree panoramic of the surrounding area. Very impress. We could actually see the music festival from the top of the mountain. I heard that 30,000 people attended the electronic festival and witnessed the eclipse. The rest of the time I spent sleeping, smoking cigar, cooking food, or down by the lake. Really great time there with everyone.
Come Monday it was time for the show we all came to witness. We secured a spot on the docks for our group and I spent all morning down there in anticipation. The eclipse started around 9:20am and totality didn’t happen till around 10:20. It was crazy seeing the entire area get darker as the sun was covered up. The temperature dropped noticeably during this time as well. You could feel the wind shift as the shadow tracked across the state.
I must say that during totality I had goose bumps for the entire 2:30 which was awesome. it got so dark and so cold during totality. We could finally take the glasses off and look directly at the sun which was awesome. We could clearly see the corona jetting out from the sun. I was impressed with how large it actually was. It was probably switch the size of the sun. As totality waned we got the see the diamond ring which another awesome aspect of totality. I wouldn’t say this was a life changing event by any means but it was so cool seeing totality in all its glory. Really made me appreciate nature and how wonderful it really is.
After the long weekend and 2:30 of totality it was all over. We hung out at the campsite for the rest of the afternoon thinking traffic would be horrible as everyone tried to leave at the same time. Thankfully there was no traffic so it just turned into a long drive getting home that night. After four hours and stop for dinner we where home. We all brought some stuff into the house and then I showered to clean three days of grim off me. That showered was amazing, almost as amazing as totality I have to say. Really an amazing experience and I was so glad I made it out to the west in time to see it.
Having a total eclipse cross the entire country is a rare event. I believe they are often in the middle of the ocean or only in very limited populated areas. Having it track across the entire country was a once in a few hundred years even from my understanding. Not sure if I will ever get to see one again but if the opportunity arises I will certainly make the effort. If you haven’t seen totality in person I would highly recommend making it at least once in your life. Really amazing stuff and makes you appreciate nature even more.
So I arrived on the west coast on Thursday. That Friday we packed up the cars and headed to Walton Lake in central Oregon to camp for the eclipse. We had a groups site with some other people which was really cool. Spent a lot of time just relaxing and not doing much. I did hike up around Mountain with Tracy. The view from the top is a true 360 panorama which was cool. In the prairie below we could see the 30k music festival which was huge.
As for the eclipse totality was amazing. I know it was only 2.5 minutes but I had goose bumps the whole time. It got so dark and cold. You could clearly see the corona and the stars even came out for a brief minutes. Truly Amazon site to be seen.
If you want a Bette picture go somewhere else. I was to in the moment to worry much about taking pictures.