Lewis River Falls

Sorry for the late-week post! I have been a total slacker this week. This post is actually from last weekend… this weekend my Dad visited from Michigan and we backpacked the Green Lakes area in Central Oregon, blog post on that coming in the next couple of days.


Last weekend, we did something a little different from our usual hikes and backpacks. We had another heat wave move through the area, and something about a steep, sweaty, dusty trail on a 98 degree day did not sound awesome. ย Instead of torturing ourselves, we decided to spoil ourselves a little and headed out to the Lewis River Falls area in Washington. What started out as my idea of finding a good waterfall/swimming hole and parking ourselves for the day with some beer did actually end up turning into a 5 or 6 mile hikey-walk. Ah well, at least I felt less guilty that way. ๐Ÿ™‚


It was, as we expected, an extremely hot and sunny day. The bright sunshine made it difficult to take photos of the falls, and for some reason I was feeling uninspired that day (photographically speaking). So, I’m not super proud of these photos, but wanted to share anyway!


We hit the stretch of river that includes Lower, Middle, and Upper Lewis River Falls. We started at Lower Falls, which is very close to the parking area and campground, so naturally it was also the most crowded area. We took a little scramble trail down to the water and proceeded to wade out to the waterfall, which was quite enjoyable. The water was moving pretty quick, but it only was only knee-deep in most places and the rocks weren’t too slippery. I did get off to a rough start though… I slipped and slid down part of the scramble trail on my butt, then one of my flip-flops came off in the water and got swept away by the river (dammit!), and finally I lost my balance for just long enough to dunk my camera (which was hanging around my neck) in the water for a second. After a brief heart attack, I checked the camera and it was fine. ๐Ÿ™‚ After my klutzy start to the day, it was smooth sailing.



Wading up the river to the Lower Falls



Playing a little tug



Slowly but surely making my way with one shoe







There were lots of kids cliff-jumping from the top of the falls down into the river (which was maybe about 40 feet?). It looked like a lot of fun, but I’m way too chicken to try it myself.



You can see the kid who just jumped toward the top



Getting ready to hit the ice cold water


We hung out at the larger swimming area for a little while, cracked open a beer and enjoyed the sunshine a bit.



Buckley taking a swim



Oh yeah, there was a rope swing tied to that big log teetering on the edge too (that the little girl is hanging on to). Looks totally safe and stable huh?


We headed another mile and a half up the trail to Middle Falls, slightly smaller waterfall but with less people. We cracked another beer here ๐Ÿ™‚ and played a little fetch with Buckles.






Buckley needed a little help climbing up on the slippery rocks ๐Ÿ™‚



Waiting until the stick got close enough to the edge that he wouldn’t have to jump in… cheater!








Our last stop was another mile up the trail to Upper Falls. By the time we got there it was 5pm or so; most people on the trail seemed to be on their way out, so we had this place to ourselves! Most of it was in shadows by that point though, so a bit cold for swimming (well, for us anyway… not for Buckley). We cracked our final beers and hung out for a while.






Endless games of fetch!






Just to show scale (you can see Paul and Buckley off to the left)



I believe these are Red Willowherb but am not certain… it was the closest match I could find but still not exact…



Almost naptime


We headed back out on the trail around 6pm or so and headed back to the car. It was a quick walk back as the trail is relatively flat the entire way.






Having a little trouble identifying these as well, but I think they may be Three-Nerved Daisy



Looking down at the river as the sun was going down… beautiful.



The last stretch of trail on the way out


Overall this was a great way to spend a really hot weekend, if you don’t mind the crowds and slow-movers on the trail. We’ll be back!

Cooperย Spur

Holy mother of wow! It’s true that almost every hike we go on is dubbed my “new favorite,” but I think this one is most deserving. Paul had been wanting to do this hike since we moved here two years ago, and we finally made it. We ended up hiking up to the Cooper Spur Shelter and setting up camp there (around 6,600 feet), then hiking up to the true Cooper Spur, which is the highest point you can reach on Mt. Hood on a formal trail (at around 8,500 feet). The trail officially ends at Tie-In Rock, a spot where those continuing to the summit typically rope up.


Cooper Spur
Mt. Hood (NE side)
Total hike distance: 6.72 miles (for our route – we took some shortcuts, some longcuts, and I forgot to turn on the GPS in the very beginning :))
Total elevation gain: 2,725 feet
Highest point at: 8,507 feet


New discovery! I can actually show our GPS track on a 3D view of the terrain with Google Earth. Badass! Full track is still loaded into GPSies for download as normal, just click the image.


Click on image for the full GPS track data


We started from the Cloud Cap Trailhead near the historic Cloud Cap Inn – after driving in on the very rocky and bumpy dirt road. The trail first took us through old-growth forest, then some boulder fields, and then through some very soft volcanic ash (talk about a calf workout). After about 1.2 miles we came to the Cooper Spur Shelter. This is a stone shelter built some 60 years ago, one of only a few shelters still standing on the mountain today. Anyone can stay in the shelter, which might not be a bad idea in a storm or something, but we opted to pitch our tent just outside the shelter.



Toward the beginning of the hike, we could barely even see Hood



Hood, Cooper Spur Shelter, and our home away from home. I think this is a suitable location. Yes.



And looking the other direction, heyo!



Mt. Adams in the distance


While setting up camp, the clouds started to lift ever so slightly, which was quite encouraging. From camp, we had approximately two(ish) miles and 1,900 feet to go to reach Cooper Spur. The trail took us right along the rugged, heavily crevassed Eliot Glacier, which is just awesome. Soon we were switchbacking up the shoulder of the spur, all the while the grade was surprisingly gentle and forgiving. One mistake that we made: the final long switchback leads right across a snowfield, with no clear trail after that. We crossed the snowfield, weren’t sure what direction to take next, so we just decided to go UP. We climbed up the snowfield until it met back up with the trail on the ridge. We found a different trail back down (along the ridge), and saw where it met up with the other trail that we mistakenly took. I think it was around 8,100 feet or so that we went straight but should have cut right (the ridge trail is a little fainter and less obvious). If you look at the GPS track close to the spur, you can see where we took different routes on the way up and down. I don’t think we took the wrong trail necessarily, that one may just have gotten buried at some point. Oh well, our way was more adventurous. ๐Ÿ™‚



Getting ready to head up



The clouds and sun made for some very cool views along the way


Once we got about to the point where we hit snow, we were also heading straight into the clouds. It’s kind of a crazy feeling to be walking through clouds, but also see clouds high above you, and then look out behind you and see lots of clouds below you.



Looking back toward Mt. Adams



We were clearly not the first to make this mistake, judging by the existing tracks (notice we’re heading straight into nothingness?!)



Oh just a little ways to go



I know this looks very dark, scary, and cold… it wasn’t. It was beautiful.



Here we go


At about this point, the yucky clouds just sort of magically… lifted. There were still some white puffy puffs lingering around here and there, but the dingy foggy clouds were dunzo. We did have some pretty gnarly cloud formations for the rest of the night though, more pictures of that below.



The mean-looking Eliot Glacier



Looking down the other side


Before we knew it, we were on top of Cooper Spur! The view, to say the least, is absolutely breathtaking. This was also officially the closest we’d ever been to Hood’s summit. I know it’s still almost 3,000 (vertical) feet away, but it looks so close from there. Like you could just walk right up to it. The photos have a hard time capturing the depth and scale I think, but I can tell you this thing is just massive.



The boulder on the very left edge here is Tie-In Rock



Proof ๐Ÿ™‚



On the spur, passing clouds, looking out at high desert



Looking back out toward Mt. Adams, you can actually also see the Columbia River in the bottom left


It was suddenly very chilly and windy up there, so we took it in for a minute then started heading back down. As we did, the sun started to peek out here and there. Hooray!



Gentle sunshine on Eliot Glacier



Beginning our descent


The descent was quick and painless (especially with no snow :)), and we made it back to camp pretty quickly. Time for a quick dinner (Mountain House Beef Stroganoff and an MRE my cousin Bobby gave us) before the spectacular show that was the sunset.



Dinner time



Buckley just chillin’


This was easily one of the most insane sunsets I’ve witnessed. It kept us completely, completely engrossed for at least an hour, probably more. Of the hundreds of photos I took, here’s a small handful. ๐Ÿ™‚



The sun just starting to go down, but with a final blaze across the land



A nice cozy spot for Buckley to enjoy the sunset





We did end up having about 10 minutes or so of rain, which was little more than a light sprinkle. Even with just that little bit though, the sky started doing crazy things… swirling clouds, rays of sunshine, rainbows..



Ginormous rainbow over rays of light (which almost look like they are emanating from the bottom up, don’t they?)



Now, I probably snapped this photo just a few seconds too late, but I promise you this was actually a double rainbow for a minute. Seriously! Double Rainbow All The Way!



Lenticular cloud that totally looked like a flying saucer. I wonder how many people mistake these for UFOs?



Look closely… Mt. Adams is actually in there (toward bottom right), a massive mountain completely buried in sunset.


Once the sun went down, it did get just a bit chilly out (although really, not nearly as cold as you’d think). Campfires are technically banned above treeline, although there were a few obvious firepits around (and the gang of three that decided to camp about 50 feet from us had one going). We decided to take advantage of the little fireplace built into the shelter, and got a fire going in there. It was great! ย The place is small and cozy, so we just brought our little chairs and some snacks and beer in there to enjoy the fire. We thought we heard a mouse squeak once, but didn’t see anything. After a little while, we stepped out of the shelter into the completely dark night, and were just awestruck. The sky had cleared almost completely and we could see millions and millions of stars, including a 180 degree view of the Milky Way overhead, from one horizon to the other. While staring at the sky, we also heard the booming crack and roar of ice falling in the Eliot Glacier (which went on for several minutes). Epic.



Our little fire


We had decided early on that we were definitely waking up in time to see the sunrise. I set an alarm for 4:45am, and promptly dismissed it when it went off. Luckily we did wake back up around 5:30am, and after a little convincing, Paul managed to drag me out of the tent. I am so, so glad he did. I thought the sunset was epic, but this was like… double epic? We were completely above the cloudline in the morning and got up just in time for the sun to rise. Again, hundreds of photos taken, but here are my favorites.



Good morning Mt. Adams









Adams and Rainier, and even the very tippy top of St. Helens






There are no words



Dear Marmot, yes, I will sell you this photo for your catalog ๐Ÿ™‚






Oh Buckles



Hello Mayos



Wake up!





It was a magical 30 minutes. After that, we had a leisurely breakfast and started packing up camp in regular old daylight. We started the short hike out around 9am, and made it to the trailhead just as dayhikers were starting to make their way in.



Our wilderness permit



Buckley taking it easy while we pack it up



There was tons of lupine on the way down



Ready to go home



The old dusty trail



Mini meadow



Not exactly sure what this is… some sort of Penstemon maybe?


Cooper Spur is a very special place. We’ve only done a handful of overnight trips really, but this is certainly my favorite, and I can’t wait to go back.

A Michigan Wedding

Okay, one more non-hiking related blog post…


As I mentioned in the last post, we were in Michigan last weekend for my mother-in-law’s wedding. She had asked me to be the official unofficial photographer, which of course I was thrilled to do! I take thousands of pictures every month, but don’t get to shoot people all that often, so I was psyched. It was certainly a learning experience. I enjoyed every minute of it, but yeesh, weddings move fast! There were definitely moments I wish I had been more prepared or better positioned for, people I wish I would have gotten more photos of, and details I wish I would have paid more attention to (I will never forgive myself for the bride’s diamond ring being turned the wrong way during cake-cutting!).


The wedding was just gorgeous. It was a perfect Michigan summer afternoon, right in their beautiful backyard with a gathering of their closest family and friends. There was a very emotional afternoon ceremony followed by dancing, eating, laughing, and lots and lots and lots of bubbly. ๐Ÿ™‚ Since there were so many photos (271 to be exact) I’m including a smaller selection of them below as a slideshow.


Update: I’m also including the photos as a gallery below the slideshow, so you can click on individual photos to view an enlarged version.


Cheers to Mr. and Mrs. Nugent!! โค


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Class Project

Disclaimer: Sorry, this is not a hiking-related post!


Uuuhhh, crazy week last week! I got a promotion at work (yay!), finished up my photography class (yay!!), and got to shoot a beautiful wedding for my mother-in-law (YAY!!). Since we were in Michigan for the weekend for the wedding, we did not get out for a hike. I figured I’d share some of my class project photos instead (and I will do a separate blog post after this one for wedding photos).


The final project for my class (taken at the awesomeย Newspace Center for Photography) consisted of a list of 15 emotions/concepts for us to capture in photo, and we had to pick ten. Sounds easy right? Much harder than I thought! Some of them were pretty abstract, so of course the night before it was due I was running around downtown with my camera trying to pinpoint these things. Overall, I’m happy with how they turned out (even though some of them were sort of a stretch). Here goes:


The World is Big



Common



Life



Power



Infamy



Portland, OR



Mine



Shadows



Self Portrait



Of course we weren’t graded or anything, but I got a “good job” from the instructor! Woohoo!

McNeil Point

Wow.

On quite possibly our most amazing hike so far, we headed up to McNeil Point on Sunday with fellow Jiver and hiking enthusiast Matt (who also joined us on Nesmith Point earlier this summer… congrats on being the first repeat special guest! :)). Inspired by some recent trip reports, it looked like the time was right for this hike, with the snow on its way out and the wildflowers still in full bloom. This was only our second hike actually on Mt. Hood, and it brought us closer to the summit than we’ve been before. It’s a humbling experience to say the least.


McNeil Point
Mt. Hood National Forest
McNeil Point Shelter: ~6,100 feet; McNeil Point: ~6,870 feet
Total hike distance: 11.48 miles (including trip up McNeil Ridge)
Total elevation gain: 3,312 feet (including trip up McNeil Ridge)


Click map for full GPS data


We started up the trail at Top Spur trailhead (about 3,940 feet), and while it started climbing right out of the gate, it was pretty gentle.ย This hike is absolutely full of breathtaking views at every turn, with the first one coming around .7 miles in. We rounded a bend on the trail and came face to face with monstrous Mt. Hood. Note: Not only is the trail full of views, but also full of confusing junctions. There are trails criss-crossing all over this area… if you’re heading up, make sure you have clear directions as it’s easy to make a wrong turn (which we actually did at one point, and had to backtrack). The directions in the Sullivan book were pretty solid.



Well hello, Hood


Blankets of wildflowers


On a typical hike the major payoff view comes at the end of your climb. This time, we were spoiled with amazing views of Mt. Hood right away! And not only were we treated to mountain views the entire way (which you’ll see), but I’m pretty sure that we saw every single variety of wildflower that we’ve ever seen and then some, all on this hike. Ridiculous.



Matt (and Buckley’s butt)


I couldn’t resist the Tiger Lily


I am pretty sure these are Subalpine Mariposa Lily – anyone know for sure?





At about 3.5 miles or so, we came to a pair of shallow but perfectly clear tarns reflecting the mountain above. This part was a little confusing as the trail forks and it’s not obvious which one you should take (FYI, you can either fork right just after the first tarn, or go a bit further on the left-hand trail and take an unmarked side trail to the right that spurs off by the second tarn and meets up with the main trail). From the tarns you have a clear view of McNeil Point above.



The far point directly below the Hood summit is where we’re headed


You will know you are on the right trail when you hit this McNeil Point sign about .3 miles after the tarns. Despite this very clear sign, later on we saw people hiking through the protected meadow. Hey, you suck.





Shortly after this point we started to hit snow. We were expecting and prepared for a lot of snow, and in the middle of a sunny day we were fully expecting to post-hole through it. It actually ended up not being too bad. Most of the snow patches were pretty packed down with clear boot tracks to step in, the other parts were soft enough to kick in your own steps. At about the same time we encountered snow, we also encountered ridiculous views of Mt. Adams, Mt. Rainier and Mt. St. Helens. I just can’t get enough of this.



Mt. Adams in the distance


That tree looks a little threatening…


Looking back over the outflow of the Glisan Glacier with (L to R) Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainer and Mt. Adams


Most of the trail was clear of snow, but there were a few large snowfields to cross. It looks worse than it was. It was pretty comfortable to cross even without poles. It was also a very hot and sunny day, so I took advantage of the snow by mashing handfuls of it against my forehead and the back of my neck for quick cool-downs. ๐Ÿ™‚



The first big snow field


Another wildflower first for us! Got to see some Western Pasque Flower, also known as “Hippie on a Stick.” Heheee!


Before we knew it, we were at the McNeil Point shelter. This is a great place to declare victory and have some lunch, but the trail does continue up from here to the actual McNeil Point, adding another 800 feet or so of climbing. I think most people do turn around at the shelter, but that trail was beckoning to us…



McNeil Point Shelter


The trail just kept going… how could we stop??


We decided to press on and get to that point. It doesn’t look all that far away, but man… it’s up there. I struggled with this last stretch. I could only take about ten steps before I had to pause and catch my breath (I distinctly remember this feeling from South Sister!). Paul was crushing it, but little by little I made my way up.



Buckley stood there and cheered me on until I made it up this part. He is awesome.


About halfway up this extra hike I had to sit down for a minute. So did Buckley. ๐Ÿ™‚



Taking it in


The trail ends at that big rock outcropping just to the right of middle


So I have to admit… I didn’t make it all the way to the very end. I stopped probably a tenth of a mile short, and decided to hang back to take pictures of Paul. I was proud of myself for getting as far as I did anyway, since I really wasn’t sure if I could make it up the ridge. In any case, this is the closest either of us had been to Hood’s summit. It felt like it was right there! I felt microscopic next to this beast.



Almost there…


Made it!


After taking it in for a minute, we headed back to the shelter area for a quick lunch and then our return trip. The descent was relatively uneventful, but it was nice to revisit all of the gorgeous views again.



Hippies!


The view on the descent


Thousands of Avalanche Lilies


We did briefly meet one PCT thru-hiker when we were almost done. It was the first time we’d met one in person, very exciting! People actually backpack the entire Pacific Crest Trail, from Mexico to Canada, over the course of several months. That’s 2,650 miles of walking. The woman we met (I regret I didn’t ask her name) was French, and had started from the Mexico border 3 1/2 months ago by herself. She said it was more difficult than she though it would be – not the hiking so much, but being dirty all the time. I totally identify! I feel so grimey after one day I can’t imagine what several weeks or months feels like. Even so, the thought of conquering the PCT is enticing… what an accomplishment. Maybe next year.


This was one of the most enjoyable hikes yet, and we will undoubtedly return. There were lots of great campsites along the way, so I have a feeling this will turn into a backpacking trip in the near future… ๐Ÿ™‚


p.s. I am just about to wrap up a beginner photography class that I have been taking for the last few weeks, which has been awesome! The day before this hike my class went on a little photo outing around downtown Portland. I uploaded some of my favorite shots to my Flickr photostream, if you’d like to see them you can click on the “More Photos” link in the Recent Photos box to the right!

Soda Peaks Lake… sort of.

We had been wanting to hit Soda Peaks Lake for some time, which was still snow-covered as recently as a few weeks ago. After seeing some reports that the lake was snow-free (hooray!) we headed there this past weekend. And yes, it’s now Friday and I’m just now getting this post up. It’s been a crazy week! The lake is situated between the eastern and western Soda Peaks, and has two trails coming in from either direction. We chose the western trail starting from Trapper Creek, which is an easier route (no, we didn’t wuss out… there is apparently a washed out bridge blocking the other trailhead).



Ready to go! Taken with my phone (and no makeup) ๐Ÿ™‚


This hike and the lake are absolutely, absurdly gorgeous, and provided the backdrop for a perfect weekend… with one colossal fail. I broke my camera. Yep… I was totally heartbroken. What happened, you ask? Well, when we arrived at camp, as per usual I set my camera down on top of one of the logs surrounding the fire pit. All was fine and good, until Buckley decided to start snacking on the end of said log, which of course caused the log to roll a bit, which of course dumped my camera off the side. Right into his water bowl. Totally my bad for setting it down right by the water bowl, so I guess I can only blame myself. But man, what a bummer! I did manage to take a few photos before this unfortunate incident, and took a few with my phone, so that’s what we’ve got to work with this time. The good news! I had already been saving up for an upgrade. The upgrade came a little sooner than I had planned, but all things happen for a reason right? I got my new camera earlier this week and cannot wait to hit the trail with it!


Soda Peaks Lake
Trapper Creek Wilderness, Gifford Pinchot National Forest (SW Washington)
Lake is at 3,770 feet
Total hike distance: 4.53 miles
Total elevation gain: 1,273 feet


Click map for full GPS data


Be warned! The mosquitos at the Soda Peaks Lake trailhead are vicious. They started swarming the moment we stepped out of the car. Even after dousing myself in bug spray, they still attacked. I think the key is just to move as quickly as possible. There were tons of the little buggers at the lake as well; not as bad as the trailhead, but still very annoying. I counted 23 bites when I got home, and that was with frequent re-ups of bug spray.


This is a pretty aggressive little hike in. Even though it’s short, it’s a climb. On a hot, sunny day it felt pretty intense… but it was over before I knew it. Once you reach the ridge, you then descend pretty rapidly down to the lake.



Toward the beginning of the trail


There were lots of wildflowers along the way, lots of the same ones from Devil’s Peak; Bunchberry, Columbia Windflower, Queen’s Cup, Foamflower, etc.



A blanket of green


Entering Trapper Creek Wildnerness area


The highest point of the hike is up on a ridge; once you reach that ridge, the views are amazing. You can see Adams, Goat Rocks, and Rainier, and you can also see down to our destination, Soda Peaks Lake.



Mt. Adams looming over Soda Peaks Lake


Looking down to Soda Peaks Lake, you can also see Goat Rocks at the far left of the horizon


Once we were on our way down to the lake, I was just delighted to see hundreds and hundreds of Avalanche Lilies! I haven’t seen these in person before, so naturally I was just tickled (literally squealing with every new bunch of them we spotted).



One Avalanche Lily standing alone


A whole bunch of Avalanche Lilies!


After descending about 600 feet or so, we were at the lake. It is just beautiful… my camera met its demise before I could take photos of the lake, so you’ll just have to trust me! When you first get to the lake, there is a very large campsite right where the trail meets the water. It is large and has a great view, but also… it’s right on the trail. We had bumped into a father and daughter earlier who recommended heading around the lake a bit to a more secluded site, which is what we did. We turned right off the main trail, on a much narrower trail that took us around the edge of the lake (you do have to climb over a few fallen trees along the way). The campsite was just perfect, right on the water but still felt secluded. We saw a family of four take the main campsite, but didn’t see any other people the whole time (very nice!).



Our campsite (taken with my phone)


Sometime during the evening, we heard a very loud BOOM! in the distance, which sounded an awful lot like a big tree falling. Trees fall, it happens, but it did make me a bit nervous about the trees around our site. One in particular was poised and ready to fall, but was leaning precariously against a neighboring tree (which happened to be right next to our fire and tent). We kept a close eye on that one!



Please don’t fall!


For a lake at 3,700 feet, the water was remarkably warm. Had it been just a tad warmer outside I would have jumped right in. I did wade in up to my knees to play fetch with Buckles though, and it was quite nice. I did manage to get a couple lake shots with my phone.



Looking across the lake at a rock slide


The sun shining on the lake


We had a delightful evening (despite the skeeters) beside a roaring fire, with lots of food and coffee and beer and wine. And of course, a very restful night’s sleep. We woke up early the next morning, made some breakfast and packed up. I was sad to leave… this is such a pretty little lake. I can’t wait to come back and take some proper photos. And do some swimming!

Devil’s Peak

This is a hike that taught me not to go in too cocky. Eight miles, 3200 feet elevation gain… meh, that’s not so bad. Lesson learned!

This weekend we took on Devil’s Peak (via Cook Creek Trailhead) for the first time with Don, one of Paul’s coworkers. Devil’s Peak is tucked away in the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness of the Mt. Hood National Forest, a little southwest of Hood.


Devil’s Peak
Mt. Hood National Forest, Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness
Summit at 5,045 feet
Total hike distance: 8 miles
Total elevation gain: 3,200 feet
(Our GPS data is slightly off near the trailhead, but mostly accurate)


Click map for full GPS data

The trailhead is right off the side of the road, it will sneak up on you!


Two words: butt-kicker. The hike report I had read on this hike was terribly dramatic, with tales of endless climbing, gasping for air and sweating uncontrollably; at first I figured someone was exaggerating the details in order to tell a good story, but quickly realized that that is exactly how it is. It became painfully clear that I have been slacking this year (I can’t speak for the guys though, who bounded up the trail with no trouble… almost like they were part machine… hmm…).The trail is steep right out of the gate, with absolutely no warmup time. The first mile or so is pretty brutal, climbing up and up through dense forest. After that mile, the trail is slightly tamer, and starts to open up to gorgeous viewpoints. The trail is also lined with tons of wildflowers the entire way, including several I haven’t seen in person before, which was a nice distraction from my racing heart and profuse sweating.



Tons of Salal everywhere


Some Cascade Lily right where the trail starts to open up to the views – this was the only bunch on the entire trail


Red Paintbrush



The trail is over so slightly more forgiving after that first mile, but is always climbing at a pretty steady grade. There are a few spots with well-worn side trails to viewpoints and campsites along the way, perfect opportunities to catch your breath and take in views of Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens, and even Mt. Rainier on a clear day (which we had, woot!). It took most of my energy to even stay within sight of the guys ahead of me, so I really didn’t take too many photos on the way up. My mission was just to get there without keeling over. All physical over-exertion aside, this is a really enjoyable hike. Great scenery, and you really feel like you’re working hard toward something. It makes the summit feel that much more awesome.


A gentler side to the trail


You know you are close when you come to the junction with the Hunchback Mountain Trail; you make a right here, and very shortly thereafter is the glorious “<— Devil’s Peak Lookout” sign pointing you to the left toward the summit. It felt great to get to the summit on this one and breathe a collective sigh of relief. There are little wildflowers everywhere carpeting the ground; Phlox, Paintbrush, Larkspur, and I’m kicking myself for not taking a picture of the Subalpine Mariposa Lily, which is apparently somewhat uncommon. The views are fantastic and the weather was perfect – I could have stayed up there for hours. Actually, we did spend quite a bit of time hanging out up there, drinking beers and just relaxing. Super fun.



Don and Paul enjoying a very well-deserved summit beer


View of Mt. Jefferson from the summit


There is a very cool fire lookout situated at the summit here, which you can actually overnight in if it’s not already claimed. I’m not sure if I could sleep there though; it’s pretty dirty and there are reports of mice scurrying about at night. I think I’d prefer a tent.



The old fire lookout


View from the lookout


Giant shutters around the outsides


The way up


The bed looks inviting and all…


The lookout was surprisingly stocked with wood, supplies, snacks, fresh water and toilet paper… if you did decide to make a night of it, you’d be all set (and I can easily see how one might get to Devil’s Peak and not want to leave). There is supposed to be a log book somewhere, but all I saw were some nonetheless entertaining notes on a single piece of paper from visitors over last year.



Josh, Cody and Toby had a badass weekend.


The view of Hood out the front door


If you take the narrow trail past the summit, down and to the left a little ways, you come to another amazing viewpoint (on a small and steep rocky slope though, use extreme caution!) with views of Hood, Mt. Jefferson and even Three-Fingered Jack on this perfectly clear day. It was nice to do a hike with such a view of Jefferson, we don’t usually get that.



Trying to figure out what’s what on the horizon


View of Jefferson


Buckley found himself a nice shady spot up there too


This is either Rock Penstemon or Barrett’s Penstemon… I simply don’t know… which was growing straight out of the rocks at this viewpoint. Anyone know for sure?


My rugged mountain man


I’m including this picture because it’s the only one I’m almost in. See reflection in the left lens of sunglasses. ๐Ÿ™‚


After taking in Mt. Jefferson, you turn around and are face-to-face with Mt. Hood.



Mt. Hood


Up close and personal


Mountain love


After lounging around in the sun a little longer, we threw the packs back on to head back the way we came. Needless to say, the descent is almost as hard on the knees and toes as the climb is on the thighs and calves! At least I was able to stop and take a few more wildflower photos, now that I was actually able to keep up with the gang.



Wild Rhododendron were in full bloom


Bunchberry carpeted the ground


Dainty little Foamflower (I think?) was also in abundance


Columbia Windflower (in the Anemone family)


There were also Vanilla Leaf and Queen’s Cup all over the place that I didn’t get photos of. I was loving the flower variety!



One more look at that single Cascade Lily on the way down


Walking through a Rhodie wonderland


We got back to the trailhead in no time, and proceeded to nom out on BBQ, mac n’ cheese and deep fried pickles at Skyway in Zigzag (our first time there – it was totes awesome). This hike was quite the workout, and completely worth it, even despite the grueling ascent. As Don put it: Some trails are happy and nice and give you a good feeling, but not this one. This is a mean one. This one is like… “#&@%ย you.”