While visiting our friends Linda and Jim Schrankel at Tollbridge Park near Hood River (they are camp hosts there this summer), we had the opportunity to circumnavigate Mt. Hood, partly on our way there and partly on our way back to Portland. It looks completely different from the North, East, South and West, so we thought we’d bring a little micro-blog presentation!
Tollbridge Park, a really excellent little gem in the shadow of Mt. Hood, is located about 18 miles south of Hood River Oregon. Making the drive south on Hwy. 35, you first see the full-on view of the mountain as you crest a grade a few miles short of the park. When I was a little kid in Los Angeles, we used to entertain out of town guests with a trip to Disneyland. This was 50 or more years ago and Disneyland was mostly still surrounded by farms then, so when you got near enough, say 10 miles or so, on the freeway you could see the latest attraction, the Matterhorn, poking into the sky and you knew you were close to the happiest place on earth. Today you get your first good look of the Matterhorn from the off ramp, looking through the towering buildings that surround the park. It’s not the same. But coming over that hill on our drive and seeing the North Face for the first time, I was immediately reminded of that view of the Matterhorn that promised the fun was about to begin.
We got a good view of the East Face from Lookout Summit, a rocky promontory that juts out of the foothills east of Hood. We hiked to the top, schlepping cameras, Flip video, and tripod early on a Friday. Lookout Point, just a short hike down from the summit, delivers a broad panorama of the Cascade Mountains from The Three Sisters in the south, near Bend in central Oregon, all the way north to Mt. Rainier, sitting on the southeast flank of Seattle. You get great views of Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens too, and of course Mt. Hood sits center stage looking so close you swear you can reach out and touch it. I was fascinated by the two ash ridges on the East Face (they slant down midway from the summit to your left, the left one is covered in snow, the right sits fully exposed). They keep their ridges sharp by sloughing ash like a Saharan sand dune sloughs sand in the breeze. I think if Hood was to blow (it’s overdue you know), this would be the face that would pop, just like St. Helens did.
We got our view of the South Face on the trip back when we decided to drive Hwy 35 south to Hwy 26 where we turned west for the trip back to Portland. If we hadn’t been towing 7 tons of trailer, we would have made the trip up the steep and windy road to the Timberline Lodge so the south face could be the backdrop. The Timberline was used for the exterior shots in the movie The Shining. Heeeeer’s Johnny!
And finally, we got the view that 90% of everyone gets since the West Face is exposed to the population of Portland and Interstate 5. This is the postcard view of Hood that also harbors most of the spots where late fall or early spring mountain climbers get stranded and need rescues. It’s the side most often shrouded in the clouds and fog of the marine layer that makes its way up the Columbia River on many mornings, but not today.
The many faces of Hood were keys to inspire us to also understand something about the surrounding areas that they face. For instance, the north face overlooks the Hood River Valley with its vast fruit orchards and farmlands that produce apples, pears and cherries (yummm!). Logging still dominates the eastern foothills, and the South Face has clusters of ski areas for the Portland metro area. And, of course, the western watershed is host to Sandy, the gateway to Mt. Hood and the edge of the vast Portland metropolitan blanket. All-in-all it was much more than a postcard tour of the mountain; we got acquainted with the different economies and populations of the area. And Hood is a little unique in our experience by providing a fairly easy circumnavigation, something you don’t get from every grand mountain you see!
Thanks again to Linda and Jim for making our stay at Tollbridge a fun and pleasant one. It’s nice to have some local knowledge of an area you are new to, and also fun to plan our next encounter. Someone mentioned Quartzsite AZ?