Sunday, August 23, 2015

Top Spur to Elk Cove on Mount Hood

This weekend Emily I decided to not lose any more time of the summer due to the lawsuit and decided to venture out of cell phone reach of the lawyers to do a hike around the north side of Mount Hood with Leo.  We decided on an out and back from the Top Spur Trailhead to Elk Cove for the night.  Read on...

It was a beautiful hike from the start although on the way in the first day the smoke from fires to the East around Hood River made vistas very hard to see.  In fact, we could barely see the peak of Hood above us at some locations because it was so thick.  I wasn't sure if breathing in smokey air for two days was overly healthy for us but we saw other people on the trail and decided to just deal with it instead of turning around.  

Leo was outfitted with his dog pack and of course looked adorable and also very happy to finally be out of the house on an adventure with us.  The north side of the mountain was really beautiful to traverse around.  This trail was part of the full loop around Mt. Hood and by looking at a map we saw that if we had planned earlier we could drop a car off at one end and do the whole north side trek as a day hike, but that would take many hours of shuttling cars.  

The elevation gain wasn't too bad as we went over ridge after ridge with glaciers far above us on the side of the peak.  We also walked through a bunch of burned sections which were pretty eery and if it hadn't been for the smoke probably would have had great views towards Mt. Adams and Mt. Rainier.  We were also very surprised at how many beautiful wild flowers were still in bloom in late summer.  

When we made it to Elk Camp it took us a little while to find a suitable campsite and actually had to settle with a site alongside a trail that had ground hornets buzzing around us.  They weren't stinging us but it was still a little unnerving.  So instead of staying at the campsite we headed up the trail back to a stream to relax and do some reading on our Kindle's and iPad.  Yeah... Technology seems to follow us... 

Leo of course relaxed in the grass with us in the sun enjoying himself immensely.  In the late afternoon the smoke seemed to clear up a bit and we were afforded amazing views of the rugged north side of Mt. Hood towering above us at sunset. The north side is more sheltered from the sun and is much steeper so the snow seems to stay longer in the year and is more white then the dirty dust-blown snow of the south face.   

We had a restful sleep that night, the first for me in quite some time, and awoke to really blue skies with very little smoke.  On the walk out we had much better views of the mountain above us without the smoke and also some good views north towards the Gorge.  It was a pretty uneventful hike but definitely a hike we would like to do again for better views, perhaps earlier in the season before the fires and in a day hike with shuttled cars.... Back to the lawsuit... Grrr...

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