Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Hot Out There? Head For The Slopes

With one day's recovery upon leaving Mt Rainier (a hot shower, dinner at a local brew pub, and restocking of our ice chest) we arrived at our next campsite now in view of Mt Hood. While a few thousand feet lower than Mt Rainier, Mt Hood sports a year-round ski slope (snow boards welcome) which continues to be groomed daily, and accessible via chair lift.

In stark contrast to the mountain our new residence, Trillium Lake Campground, was populated by dozens of canoes, kayaks, and inflatable tubes. A short 70 miles uphill from Portland, the lake served as the perfect country getaway during this 90 degree season. Wish we had an inner tube! Make a note for next trip.

Unlike Mt Rainier, flora on Mt Hood is fairly sparse, rock scree covering most of the mountain not already groomed for skiing. Still, once arriving up the first chairlift  we hiked laterally across the scree and snow and ice patches on a quiet walk to vistas across the distant valleys.

And naturally, a local brew never being far behind, we stopped in at the Timberline lodge's (prominantely situated at the slopes winter base) Blue Ox bar for an Ice Axe IPA.  Named for Paul Bunyon's blue ox 'Babe, the bar anchors the lower level of this 1930s lodge built by the 'CCC boys'.  As the story was told, the CCC arrived to set up their camp at Trillium meadows, later to be dammed to create Trillium Lake. All materials for construction of the lodge were locally sourced - this was the Depression era and pre-war buildup. The lodge's massive stone foundation came from volcanic rocks off the mountain itself, and the towering columns of the lodge's post and beam construction were hauled from forest in the valley below.

Hikes in the Mt Hood area took us up various trails for mountain vistas, waterfalls and lakes. Fortunately, mosquitoe populations have mostly subsided, unfortunately so have nearly all wildlife sightings. Where have all the deer, elk, moose and orcas gone to?

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