To the High Point on the Timberline Trail… September 23, 2021
After the long drive up the rutted road to the Cloud Cap campground (elev 5850′), on the east side of Mt Hood, we begin by hiking up the steep sandy side of the South Eliot Glacier lateral moraine.
From here we see all the volcanoes to the north,
but it is the head-on face of the Eliot Glacier that draws us upward over the rock studded surface of the moraine, continuously up toward the mountain, like a scene out of Close Encounters, we move forward.
We are passed by a few hikers headed for the high point on Cooper Spur, near Tie-In Rock, but we take the turn off to the hut.
Before we leave the moraine, I give the Eliot Glacier a few minutes to pose for close ups.
We reached the Cloud Cap Shelter at lunch time.
“Not very crowded up here today”, said my hiking partner.
We choose to walk south on the Timberline Trail, around the mountain. We play dot to dot with the rock cairns as we walk the gray trail, winding sinuously upward across the wrinkled shoulders of the mountain, contouring around the canyons.
A solitary raven cry, some humming bees, wild flowers faded to golden seed heads, a few green leaves survive, on the wind blasted slopes paved with rocks and stones – a desert pavement of sorts, peppered with large angular boulders that could only be from above;
Gravity prevails whether we acknowledge the science or not.
A few fresh snow patches cling to sheltered slopes, left by storms last week that have given all the high peaks fresh white crowns.
An older, dusty snow field, is preserved in the most sheltered north sloping hollow.
We reach the High Point of the Timberline Trail (7350′), then the ridge crest to the left where we rest, and enjoy a 360° view.
Cascade peaks to the south above Gnarl Ridge:
Of the Washington peaks to the north, only Mount Adams visible from here.
On the return hike on this trail carved out of the edge of the sky, more ravens fly above, sweeping in choreographed pairs, swirling in groups above our narrow ridge and over toward Tie-In Rock, stalling and falling and circling around each other; then surprisingly, as I round a bend on the trail, I see them clustered on the snowfield.
They seem to be sipping from the surface, finding water in this sere late summer landscape where all the rivulets are dry.
A completely fresh air, clear sky, beautiful day up here, no smoke today, as close to the sky as I will get this year I think.
And the mountain ash glowed red in the afternoon light.