Last Sunday I hiked up Vista Ridge. The forecast called for some light snow on Friday and Saturday and sun on Sunday, so I thought I'd grab an opportunity for one last trek up to timberline on Mt. Hood and imagined a glorious walk through a lightly covered wonderland with sun glinting off the fresh snow and blue skies arching overhead.
Instead the mountain was cloaked in clouds -- a cold, grey sheet at about 9,000' and lighter clouds and fog swept up out of the valleys by the wind.
Just a little bit of snow on Lolo Pass Rd, and on stretches of the gravel road past the PCT, but on the final ascent to the Vista Ridge TH the snow got deeper and deeper. At the TH there was 4-6" and it was 18F. I was the only vehicle there. I put on my gaiters, bundled up, and headed out.
The snow was light and fluffy and the temps low enough to be dry, and with just a few inches it was pretty easy going. For the most part it was easy to follow the trail, but every once in a while I'd lose it briefly.
I followed some Coyote tracks for quite a while, and then some Elk tracks, which stopped to nibble on some lichen.
As I reached timberline and the junction with the Eden park trail the snow was about a foot deep. The section from Eden park trail to the junction with the Timberline trail which goes across that open slope dotted with young fir was slow going with snow nearly up to my knees.
I stopped for a quick lunch and then considered what to do. I had toyed with the idea of heading up the ridge towards Barret Spur, but the prospect of trudging through that much snow dampened my enthusiasm. On the other hand, maybe the wind would have blown most of the snow off up on those exposed ridges. It didn't look particularly wind swept though. I decided to stick to the timberline trail and head over towards Elk Cove. As I entered Wy'east basin the open slopes above were just too tempting, so I headed up. After climbing a few hundred feet I basically paralleled the Timberline trail, travelling through open forest and glens, the snow up to my knees, but so soft and fluffy that it was delightful. I eventually reached this creek canyon and called it a day.
I worked my way down the canyon, found the Timberline trail, and took it back to the Vista Ridge trail. At the junction with Eden Park trail I found tracks from several other hikers who had made it up to here. There tracks pretty much flattened the trail and made the return hike easy.
On my way down, the sun finally broke through the clouds.
It was 22F when I got back to the TH. Not exactly the glorious trek I had envisioned, but a fantastic day in the snow nonetheless.
Caught a little bit of blue sky and more slanting sunshine on the drive away from the TH.
And then the most fantastic sunset as the sun backlit the clouds boiling up out of zig zag canyon.
This forum is used to share your experiences out on the trails.
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