Growing up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, I have always been quick to tell anyone I meet that I am from “The Mountains”. The mountains I grew up with were green in the summer, colorful in the fall, and brown/gray and bare in the winter. Oregon’s mountains were a new experience for me, the intense green of the coniferous forests is an amazing site. As you are driving around the curvy roads, an amazing sight could pop up around any number of turns. A snow covered treeless mountain pops out from behind the large green trees and soars toward the sky. At over 11,000 feet tall, Mt Hood is a glacier capped masterpiece jumping out of the relatively smaller green mountains around it. Yes, there are other volcanic peaks that are taller in the Pacific Northwest, but Hood was our home for the summer, so it holds a special place in our heart. As far as I know, it is the only place in the US where downhill skiing is done year round on one of the glaciers.
There are many lakes in the Mt Hood forrest, but Trillium Lake is one of the most popular for locals and visitors. Due to the ease of access, camping, fishing, awesome swimming, and great views of the mountain it is always crowded. It was nice to swing up to the lake on our days off since it was managed by the same company we worked for which made it FREE for us. The water was warm, but looking up at the mountain while you were swimming would send cold chills down your back every now and then.
While exploring on the other side of the mountain, we discovered the Pioneer Woman Grave Site. This woman died on the Oregon Trail, and her identity was never discovered (although there are some good ideas of who she was). The hike along the original Oregon Trail route that passes by the grave site is a nice one. You can see the original path the trail took through the forrest.
We also visited Little Crater Lake while in the area. This lake was created by an artesian spring flowing up in very loose gravel soil. The water made the gravel collapse and form the crater. The water is so cold that algae will not grow in it, this gives it the unique blue color. The lake is around 40 feet deep in the center, and you can see logs stacked up on the bottom as clearly as if they were just a few feet down.
More from the Mt Hood area coming soon….