Mt Hood: The Timberline Trail

A Very Wet Pacific Northwest Experience

September 2018

Oh, hey there Oregon.

Over the last few days, I took a short trip to Mount Hood to hike the Timberline Trail. The Timberline Trail is only a mere 40 miles long, circumnavigating the iconic Mt. Hood, just outside of Portland. It’s not a super easy one, either. The volcano has glacially carved canyons, forming features called moraines around it, like folds in a giant skirt. The trail goes up and down these folds over and over as you make your way around the perimeter.

I’d never been to Oregon, so this was exciting for me! My first impressions? Everything in Oregon is wet. I was told it was nice and sunny for weeks until I got there, and that we definitely got a full on Pacific Northwest experience “straight to the face”.

We arrived at the mountain mid morning after stopping at the grocery store. I was visibly shaken by the fact that other cars actually stopped in the middle of a 5-lane highway to let me turn left into the parking lot. “Wait…what just happened?” The Portland drivers were weirdly compassionate. I’m a big fan. And I’m still shocked.

We picked up a hitchhiker who worked at the Timberline Lodge, and drove through eerie fog and spitting rain. After dropping him off, we waited a few hours to see if the storm would abate. It did not.

(Fun fact: The Timberline Lodge is famous for its appearance as the Overlook Hotel in the Shining. You know, the one that drove Jack Nicholson mad?)

Eventually, we started hiking, but Mt Hood was elusive (due to the clouds and rain). When it decided to pop out from behind the clouds, which admittedly wasn’t super often, the mountain was spectacular, huge and beautiful. I felt like I was on some sort of fantasy quest the entire time, and I think that’s kind of the goal here.

The main thing I loved about Oregon? Trees. There were so many trees. Western Red Cedar. Hemlock. Douglas Firs. And they were BIG. I can’t even think of the last time I saw trees that Big. They were so impressive and my little forest mountain heart was so happy, even though a lot of me was really cold and really wet from all of that Oregon rain.

We didn’t do much stopping on our 2nd day on the Timberline Trail. We got a late start hoping the rain would let up (It didn’t, really) and started hiking up and up through clouds and rainy forests. You could tell that had the clouds not been there, there would have been some RIDICULOUS views of Hood and her glaciers, canyons and waterfalls. Instead, we got driving sideways rain, cold winds, and freezing cold clouds that whipped past us, around us, over us.

To be honest, it was pretty dramatic and beautiful weather. The rain brought out spectacular forest smells, the mosses were full and soft and lush, and the colors of the rocks were so vibrant in the rain. As long as you kept moving, you stayed pretty warm. I definitely felt very much alive.

As we hiked through a very exposed burn area, getting blasted by wind and water, we turned the corner to see the biggest, brightest, thickest rainbow I’d ever witnessed in my entire life!

Nature is my favorite.

Published by alexandriacantrell22

Trail-name: Pocahontas Atlanta-native and based out of SLC, Utah. Appalachian Trail 2016, the Colorado Trail 2018, Timberline Trail 2018

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