A mid-summer, sunny day. It was a perfect time to enjoy a visit to the glorious wildflower displays in an alpine area.
Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood sits at roughly 5,900 feet of elevation. I began the hike up the mountain to the Silcox Hut at 7,000 feet. By then, the mountain hemlock had been left behind, and so had the scattered white-bark pine. The yellow buckwheat and purple alpine lupine covered the upper slopes, highlighted by snowfields remaining from the deep winter snows.
For a change of pace, I took off cross country crossing the soft soil of the glacial moraines (the ash is finer than any sand found on a beach), working my way around large rounded boulders (another reminder of glacial activity), and navigating steep snowfields. Golden-mantled ground squirrels kept me company, always on the outlook for a snack.
As I circled the mountain to the northwest, the summit of the mountain and its glaciers were easily visible. And, looking to the south, Broken Top, the Three Sisters and Mt. Jefferson dominated the horizon. Soon I was at the lip of the Big Zigzag Canyon. The entire stretch of Mississippi Head, a large basalt rock formation, stretched out before me. These are the moments I dream about in the middle of winter on a cloudy day.
After a steep ascent to the Timberline Trail, I headed back to Timberline Lodge. All in all, the hike was six miles in length with 1,700 feet of elevation gain. Life is good!