After two days of over 100 degree temperatures in Portland it was time to head to the mountains and get a respite from the heat. I parked at the very rough 4,500-foot trailhead for the Vista Ridge Trail on the north side of Mt. Hood. It was already in the mid-70 degrees and getting hotter.
It was a grand day, providing spectacular views as far as the eye could see. In the older days this trail used to provide one of the prettier approaches to the alpine areas on the mountain. Since a 2011 forest fire, the approach is mainly through a burnt-out forest with fireweed in bloom as far as the eye can see.
After roughly 2 1/2 miles and 1,500 feet of elevation gain, I met the Timberline Trail which circles Mt. Hood. A few more steps and I was at the open meadows of Wy’east Basin. The Ladd Glacier and the summit of Mt Hood were seemingly close enough to touch.
I began hiking east to gain a wonderful overlook of Elk Cove and the Coe Glacier. After enjoying the views, I left the main Trail and began following an old climbers’ trail to the south. Soon I reached Dollar Lake at 6,000 feet and took off the pack, broke out a sandwich and enjoyed the magnificent views of some of the prettiest alpine scenery in the Pacific Northwest.
The vistas to the north were amazing. The entire expanse of the peaks of the Columbia Gorge could be seen, from Larch Mountain in the west to Mt. Defiance in the east. Beyond the Gorge mountains stood the three crowned jewels of the Cascades – – – Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams.
Life is good.