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


Mary said...

That's incredibly beautiful!!

Manda said...

My favorite season.