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Mt. Hood? Not Yet!
February 19, 2017
Some people climb mountains year round. As much as I love climbing mountains, I know my limits, especially when I live in the Pacific Northwest where most mountains are also crevassed covered glaciers. I would rather wait for conditions to be more optimal, than risk my ass on a freshly snow covered glacier and in the process, have people worry about me. I make people worry enough as it is. So, what to do when the mountains are covered in snow and the climbing walls are slick with rain? In the past I have spent my summers climbing at the gym and running. I continue to climb indoors, however, I am trying to limit the amount of running I do to make sure I do not go over board again with my exercise. In an effort to not fall back into my eating disorder, I am trying to make sure that most of my exercise is done to fill my soul and to appreciate the great outdoors. Running the same route 3-5 times a week (or even worse, on a treadmill) does not fit my new exercise intentions. Hiking is possible, but there are only so many winter hikes in the rain I can do before that starts to feel disordered too. So, now what?
About a month and a half ago, I decided I'd bypass a rain-induced boredom by driving over to my favorite bar, Cascade Brewery. I was driving to the bar when I reminded myself that I recently decided I was not going to drink anymore. So, instead of going to the bar, I went down the street about a mile to Next Adventure, an outdoor store in Portland. I didn't intend to buy anything, but wanted to check out XC ski prices just to get an idea. 30 minutes later, I ended up walking out of the store with new XC skis, boots, and poles. Well....here goes nothing.
The next day, I drove my car as close to Mt. Hood as I could without having to put chains on my tires. The snow level got pretty high by the time I hit the town of Welches, so I pulled off of Lolo Pass Rd. and drove until my car would not drive anymore. Then I pulled over, slapped on my skis and....fell on my ass. Then, I laughed at myself, decided I was going to love this new activity, I got back up and off I went. I have been hooked ever since.
Thankfully, I have an amazing work schedule where I go into work 3 days a week and work 2 days a week from home. I always get my work done on the weekends so I can have the trails to myself on the weekdays. This last Monday, I decided to ski Trillium Lake, which is a very popular trail. However, I did not see a single person until the last 10 minutes of my 2 hour trek. I had the mountain and the lake all to myself.
When I reached the lake, I was greeted with an inspiring view of Mt. Hood. Anytime I see Mt. Hood, my eyes become fixed on a spot near the top called the Hogsback. At the top of the Hogsback is where my friend, Sue, and I decided to turn back on our summit attempt two years ago due to icy conditions. It is so hard to look at the mountain from afar and realize how close we were to the summit, but I know it was the best choice. Besides, this just means I will have to give it another go.
The optimal climbing season is usually from May to the beginning of June. Since the mountain has been getting slammed with snow this winter, I project that the first week of June will be the best time to summit. Therefore, Mt. Hood will be the first mountain I attempt to cross off my list of state high points in the USA that I intend to stand on top of. The next high point will be Mt. Whitney in California (already purchased my permit for July 5th) and then Boundary Peak right across the border in Nevada.
After returning from that trip, I plan to fly back east for my usual summer visit. During that time, I will hike the high points in New Jersey and Pennsylvania (which will feel like walk in the park compared to the western peaks). Then, I will go visit my best friend, Laura, in Vermont where I will hike Mount Mansfield and then go to Mount Washington in New Hampshire. I've already got Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York's high points checked off the list, but I plan to visit some monasteries or attend some support groups while driving through.
For now, I will continue to work, spend numerous hours in coffee shops, read at home with my precious cat on my lap, go indoor climbing, and explore the XC ski trails around Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helens. Can't complain.