Walking thru Heaven

Indian Heaven Wilderness, Washington
~9.5 miles, ~900 feet elevation gain

The temperature has dropped 15° since I left Portland this morning. Fall has definitely arrived. Time to put on some pants. 

proof that I'm wearing pants

Today isn’t about spectacular views or losing myself in the mountains. I just need some time to myself. Sometimes, the best days are spent alone for me.  

dew and fall-colored huckleberry leaves

Starting out the from the East Crater trailhead, I make my way up mild and well-graded trail to shallow, sandy-shored Junction Lake. The day threatens rain that never appears, instead (take that, weatherman!) the sun wins the battle sometime after midday, warming me as I snack on almonds a couple of miles further down the trail near Lemei Lake. Initially muted in the gray light, the meadows are suddenly brilliant in their fall colors.

the sun arriving at Lemei Lake
I float through the miles, wandering off trail to other wee lakes. Pepper is my only company, making me laugh as she unsuccessfully stalks birds, finches, waterfowl and squirrels. I see not a single soul all day, though I was honestly prepping myself to possibly meet my first bear- I saw more fresh, berry-filled bear scat (ten total) through these meadows than I have ever seen (my natural repellent apparently won out though…No. Bear). 

not a bird, but she did catch a pug-sized mushroom

Clear Lake

experimenting with a crappy phone camera on the PCT

my favorite of the day: Bear Lake & pug photo bomb
Still a new area for me, Indian Heaven will most likely turn into a favorite fall stomping ground. It’s not about big views, expansive scenery or the gloriously barren alpine, but rather the extraordinary peaceful quality that pervades this plateau with its myriad of lakes and meadows.

muted fall colors in the meadows, Lemei Rock in the distance

The last light of summer

Mount Hood Wilderness, Oregon
~9 miles, ~1790 feet elevation gain

Disclaimer: the following post is heavy with pictures of "my" mountain. Just, well, because. 

dropping into Elk Cove from the Timberline Trail

It’s no secret that the north side of Mount Hood encompasses my favorite and most beloved areas on the mountain: Wy’east Basin, Cooper Spur, Eden Park, Cairn Basin and Elk Cove. It’s a veritable wonderland of brooks, glens, knolls, glacier views and meadows filled with wildflowers. Elk Cove is one of the tougher areas to reach- at least a two hour drive from Portland. Between the long drive, the Dollar Lake Fire (2011), school commitments and subsequent NOC shift, I suddenly realized I haven’t been to Elk Cove since 2010. So when J.B. called to head over to Hood’s north side to take in the last light of summer/beginnings of fall, I was in. 

Entering Elk Cove, August 2010

I’ve done a lot less hiking than planned since July. Not only has it been hot [insert spoiled Portlander here], but Andy and I have been embroiled in house projects which have taken a far bigger chunk out of summer plans than anticipated [insert frustration here]. Projects finally complete, it was a relief just to be outside, taking in the alpine air and the slanted, golden light of late summer transitioning to fall. 

This is my favorite time of year. I’m not really a summer kind of girl. I love the light of fall, the colors, and the crisp snap to the air. I love winter and snow, being pig-piled in blankets and jackets and fuzzy socks.  

My kinda summer- this was a chilly & overcast backpacking trip. Elk Cove, August 2010

Rocky meets Hood, August 2010

Wy'east Basin, August 2010

The anticipation of the turn of the seasons is in the air, in the light, as J.B. and I head up the Vista Ridge trail; the sunlight is warm, the air with a cool edge to it. 

Interestingly enough, much like the approach to McNeil, I used to loathe the 2.5 miles up to the Timberline Trail via Vista Ridge. Dry. Forest. Slog. The burn has opened up the forest, opened up the views, and had a surreal, ghostly quality in the late afternoon light. 

Dollar Lake Fire along Vista Ridge

A short and steep final pitch and voila! the Timberline Trail and Hood just kind of…well, appear. And then glorious rambling along the Timberline Trail through meadows and meadows and streams and brooks. In season: wildflowers. Now, just that coveted late summer light and the encroachment of fall color. 

J.B. and the pups traipsing along the Timberline Trail

The beauty of Elk Cove is difficult to describe. You turn a corner and suddenly it just is there, a meadow-filled cirque at the base of Mount Hood. We wandered up to the valley headwall and lingered a while before reluctantly leaving to begin the long trek home to Portland. 

The scar left from the Dollar Lake Fire

J.B. taking it all in

fall colors & light in Elk Cove

I’ll simply let the pictures speak for themselves. 

fall colors, Wy'east Basin

until we meet again, mountain. <3

The Dog Days of Summer

Summer winding down. A home renovation. Memories.

She's settling in nicely

Lardos. Nom, nom, nom

Why? Because...he can...?

July 4th. Mount Tabor people watching

Love Tabor at night

dah face!