The Book. The Mountain. Everything in between.

On Mount Hood: the Book

On Mount Hood Heads to Seattle

OMH Paperback coverOK, I know Seattle’s got the king daddy Cascade in Mount Rainier and all, but Mount Hood’s not too shabby itself.

For anyone in the Seattle area looking to learn a little about Oregon’s signature peak, swing by King County’s Burien Library at 7 p.m. this Wednesday, August 20, 2014, for some photos, adventures and tall mountain tales.



Mount Hood to a Little Kid

Somebody once said something to me about the classic mountain shape of Mount Hood that I thought summed it up perfectly; so perfectly, in fact, that I put it in the book:

If you ask a little kid to draw a mountain, he will draw Mount Hood. Every time. 

Madeline reinforced that idea to me when she showed me what she had drawn at school this week. Granted, she’s got both Mount Hood and Mount Jefferson here, but the gist is the same.

Madeline HoodEven better to me, someone who’s written and writes a lot about Mount Hood, is the back of the sheet and Madeline’s own little take of a day on the mountain.


Mount Hood Climber’s Guide

Back in 2010 when I was researching On Mount Hood, one of the scores of people I connected with was a high tech professional, climber and Mount Hood fan named Bill Mullee. I’d been referred to him because he was working on a climber’s guide to Mount Hood at the same time I was working on my book. Unlike On Mount Hood, Bill’s book was to be a climber’s guide to the mountain, complete with pictures, routes, and write-ups from some veteran climbers, including Fred Beckey, the renowned alpinist who, along with Leo Scheiblehner, was the first to climb Hood’s notorious Yocum Ridge.

Bill and I talked back then and a few more times over the ensuing years about the mountain, our books and what was to come. Each time we spoke, he was that much closer to having his book come to fruition. And now, it’s truly coming to be.

Bill landed a publisher with the Colorado-based Sharp End Publishing, and in June it will release Mt. Hood: A Climber’s Guide.


Here’s the write-up about the book from the publisher’s site:

The unsurpassed beauty of Mt Hood awaits. Drawing on the vast experiences of over three dozen veteran Hood mountaineers, Mt Hood: A Climber’s Guide provides in-depth, firsthand descriptions of the mountain’s many routes. Contributors, such as the venerable Fred Beckey, write about weather, objective dangers, and how to stay safe and succeed. Routes are clearly illustrated on exceptional aerial photos, while stunning scenic and action images will inspire visitors and regulars alike.

The guide is likely to fill a long-standing need for some great, up-to-date information about all the different routes up Mount Hood. Nicholas Dodge’s classic A Climbing Guide to Oregon, which has a 12-page chapter dedicated to Hood, was published in 1975 — and, it seems, only in 1975. (Actually, Seattle climber Wayne Wallace, who’s in On Mount Hood and who also contributed to Mullee’s book, tells me that Dodge’s book was also published in hardback in 1968.) And Jeff Thomas’ great Oregon High: A Climbing Guide to Nine Cascade Volcanoes, first appeared in 1991 but has been hard to come by in recent times.

Mt. Hood: A Climber’s Guide is now available for preorder, which includes a free two-year subscription to the ebook version, for $23.05. For anyone looking to explore Hood’s upper reaches, it’s destined to be a classic.

Stay tuned for more about the book and any events related to its release.



Mount Hood fixtures

In the picture of my office below, can you pick out the Mount Hood fixtures? There are two, not including the print on the wall. fixture 2 OK, the first may be kind of a stretch. It’s my black lab there on the floor, Oliver, who’s a fixture in my office all day long as I’m working away. He loves getting up on the mountain as much as anyone, so that’s his connection. The other is the actual light fixture that hangs from the ceiling. It once lit one of the fireplace rooms at Timberline Lodge. Amy and I won it at a fund-raising auction for the Friends of Timberline last fall, and after finally updating my office earlier this spring, I installed it overhead. fixture1 Even though it’s a super unique fixture, largely because of its history, it’s not one that is original to Timberline Lodge. According to Linny Adamson, longtime curator at the lodge, these lights were in many of the rooms in the 1970s if not before. She sent me a picture that shows one of the rooms with this fixture in 1976. Lodge Fixture 1976 rm 108 As Amy and I left the Friends event last fall with the light in our hands, Jeff Kohnstamm, president of RLK and Company, which operates the lodge, joked that it might have been the very light that lit his bedroom growing up. Son of Richard Kohnstamm, the man largely credited with saving Timberline from ruin in the 1950s, Jeff grew up at Timberline in the 1960s and spent many a night there as a kid. Adamson said that in about 1986, she and others working at the lodge found some of the original light fixtures in the attic. The Forest Service gave them permission to remove the newer ones and re-install the originals, which they did just in time for Timberline’s 50th anniversary celebration. And because of that, one of the replacement fixtures now lights my office with a little bit of Timberline glow.

Will Mount Hood — aka Wy’east — get the nod?

Wednesday’s the big day, the day Trimet will announce what the newest bridge to span the Willamette River will be called. bridge1

Photos courtesy of Trimet

Portland’s transit agency went through a pretty extensive public process to solicit possibilities, finally narrowing it down to four at the beginning of this year. The finalists: Abigail Scott Duniway; Tillicum Crossing; Cascadia Crossing; and Wy’East. The latter of those is believed to be one of the Native American names for Mount Hood. (I spoke on OPB’s “Think Out Loud” with some other folks earlier this year about the history behind the name.) bridge2 Whether or not Hood will get the honor — and whether people will even call the bridge by its technical name or not — Wy’East is still a pretty intriguing name, one with some dramatic Northwest mythology behind it. So, what does Wy’East mean and where did it come from? Here’s how I wrote about it in On Mount Hood, based off research I did, including a reading of C.O. Bunnelll’s 1933 book, Legends of the Klickitats:

According to the lore of the Klickitat, who lived along the north shores of the Columbia River, native peoples used to be able to cross the river over the sacred Bridge of the Gods. (Various landslides throughout time — one as recent as a few hundred years ago — have actually dammed the river and allowed fleeting passage by foot, so this part of the story may not be entirely legend.) Upset by tribes that began to feud, the Great Spirit first doused all sources of fire, save for the one kept burning by an old and ugly woman named Loowit. She would share her flame with those who came in need of a spark. Pleased by Loowit’s kindness, the Great Spirit granted her wish of everlasting youth and beauty. The new dish, however, soon became quite the target, and two of the Great Spirit’s sons, Pahto, who ruled the north, and Wy’east in the south, unleashed a terrible war to gain her affection. They hurled fiery boulders at each other and torched the land all around. 

Furious at his offspring, the Great Spirit destroyed the bridge over the river and turned all three of the feuding lovers into volcanic peaks: Loowit became the mountain we know today as Mount St. Helens, Pahto is Mount Adams, and Wy’east is Oregon’s Mount Hood. 

On Mount Hood at the Mazamas — on Mount Hood

Last week, Sonia Buist invited me to give a little real-world look at the Timberline Trail at a Mazamas presentation for her book, “Around & About Mount Hood: Exploring the Timberline Trail, Access Trails, and Day Hikes.” I’d say about 70 people or so, including quite a few folks interested in taking on the 41-mile trail themselves, turned out for the event at the Mazamas Mountaineering Center in southeast Portland.

This weekend, I’ll be back with the Mazamas, but not in Portland. This time, it’ll actually be up on Mount Hood at Mazama Lodge, the club’s rustic abode up in the trees above Government Camp and on the way up to Timberline.

The presentation starts at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 12, and will hopefully be preceded and followed by some stellar spring skiing like we enjoyed earlier this week.

Mskiing mile 4.8.14

On Mount Hood, the Mazamas and the Timberline Trail

Last summer, the morning that we kicked off our 2013 hike around Mount Hood on the Timberline Trail, I had a quick book signing event at Timberline Lodge with a few other mountain writers. One of those was Sonia Buist, a physician whose book, “Around & About Mount Hood: Exploring the Timberline Trail, Access Trails, and Day Hikes,” is one of the most detailed guides for the trail.

She’s giving a presentation on her book at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 2, for the  Mazamas and has graciously invited me to share a few pictures and stories from our epic trip around the mountain last summer. The free event will be at the Mazama Mountaineering Center at 527 SE 43rd Ave.

If you’ve ever wanted to hoof all 41 miles of the Timberline Trail in a single backpacking trip or explore this classic trail in digestible segments, this night should provide information — and inspiration — aplenty.

Crossing the White River on the last few miles of the Timberline Trail, Aug. 2013.

Crossing the White River on the last few miles of the Timberline Trail, Aug. 2013.

Rain, rain, go away

Twice in the past two weeks now, we’ve had grand plans to spend the day skiing on Mount Hood, only to have those plans flooded out by unending rain. It’s been a pretty bad snow year so far, but still, we never counted on two outings to be so thoroughly saturated that we wouldn’t even be able to set foot or ski on the slopes. (Nor did we find any humor in the fact that the days immediately after each of our rainouts were sunny, bluebird days on the mountain.)

While those days may have taken an unexpected course, we still made what we could of them, which was hardly anything to complain about.


Sneaking in a day’s worth of runs at Summit before the evening rains set in.


Late-night around the fire at Timberline Lodge, eager for an early ski morning.


Thwarted by rain, we opted for the lodge’s storied Timber Toast instead.


Celebrating Spencer’s 4th birthday in Hood River after giving an On Mount Hood presentation to around 100 folks for Gorge Owned’s Sense of Place lecture series.


Sunrise from our room at the Hood River Hotel was promising.


But the rains returned in full force, leaving us to stroll the streets of Hood River and hope for another, snowier day to head back to the mountain.

On Mount Hood and the Sense of Place Series

Gorge Owned presents Sense of Place Lecture Series featuring author Jon Bell

Gorge Owned and sponsors Hood River Valley Residents Committee and Mt. Hood Meadows welcomes author Jon Bell to the Columbia Center for the Arts on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. Bell is the author of “On Mount Hood: A Biography of Oregon’s Perilous Peak.” He will present slides about Mount Hood, the volcano in our backyard that has shaped the local landscape, provides valuable drinking water, and lures adventurers from far and near. Bell will tell the story of Mount Hood through its trails, wines, fruits, forests, glaciers, accidents, triumphs and much more. On Mount Hood's Timberline Trail crossing the Sandy River.         Hikers crossing the Sandy River on Mount Hood’s Timberline Trail, August 2013. 

Bell, an outdoor enthusiast whose work has appeared in Backpacker, The Oregonian, The Rowing News and Oregon Coast lives in Lake Oswego with his wife, two kids and a black Lab. He is co-author of the climbing guidebook, Ozone, and is a former president of the Ptarmigans Mountaineering Club. Waucoma Bookstore will be selling copies of his book at the lecture.

Sense of Place is an annual lecture series sponsored by Gorge Owned that seeks to foster a deeper understanding of and connection to our landscape and to one other. All lectures are held at the Columbia Center for the Arts, 215 Cascade Ave. in Hood River. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the lecture begins at 7 p.m. Come early to enjoy a glass of wine or beer and meet others in the community.

Event Details 
What: GO! Sense of Place Lecture Series featuring author Jon Bell
When: Wed., March 5, Columbia Center for the Arts, 215 Cascade Ave., Hood River
Cost: $5 (free for GO! members)
About Gorge Owned
Gorge Owned is a 501.c.3 member-supported organization based in Hood River. With more than 160 individual and business members, GO! delivers year-round programing that informs and inspires people to invest in a vibrant community, healthy environment and strong local economy. Programs include the Gorge Green Home Tour, Gorge Green Drinks, the Sense of Place lecture series, GO! Local Month and Gorge Earth Day. Sense of Place is an annual lecture series sponsored by Gorge Owned that seeks to foster a deeper understanding of and connection to our landscape and to one other. Learn more and find a full listing of Sense of Place lectures at

On Mount Hood at the Cascade Ski Club

More than 85  years ago, a group of Norwegians gathered together near Mount Hood to do what they loved best: ski jump.

Today, their legacy is still around in the form of the Cascade Ski Club, a non-profit dedicated to helping people have affordable and accessible  mountain experiences all year long. The club came to be in 1928 in Government Camp as a way to boost Mount Hood as an ideal escape for winter sports like Nordic skiing, ski jumping and downhill skiing. Among some of the club’s more notable members over the years: Hjalmar Hvam, an expert skier and the inventor of one of the first safety ski bindings, and gold medal Olympic skier Bill Johnson.

Since 1947, the club has had its CSC Lodge right in Government Camp. It’s a friendly place where members gather after long days on the mountain. They can have meals there and even stay overnight in the lodge’s variety of dormitories.


This weekend, they’ll also be able to get a little On Mount Hood at the lodge, too. Back in October, I did a slideshow for the book out at REI in Hillsboro, and there I met one of the club members. He invited me to come up sometime this winter and share some Mount Hood stories with the club. Not one to ever decline an invitation to the mountain, I accepted. The show, open to CSC members and guests, is at 7:30 p.m. at the CSC Lodge, 30510 E. Blossom Trail. For more information, checkout the CSC website.

Fred Beckey Returns to Mount Hood (sort of)

If you’re at all familiar with Northwest climbing, the name Fred Beckey likely rings a bell. And if you know of Fred Beckey, then you also probably know that his list of first ascents across the mountains and crags of the Northwest is among the longest out there. (This interview from says he’s got more than anyone in the world.)

That should come as no surprise, really. Not only because Beckey is renowned for his  prolific and active climbing career, but because he’s now 91 — and he’s still climbing.

One of his most notable first ascents on Mount Hood was the dreaded Yocum Ridge, which he climbed with partner Leo Scheiblehner in April 1959. Yocum, named for climbing guide and Government Camp hotel and resort developer Oliver Yocum, is the prominent, serrated ridge that runs pretty much right down the middle of the mountain’s west face. In the photo below, by Zigzag-based photographer Robert Brownscombe, Yocum is the ridge just left of center.

Photo by Robert Brownscombe

In his book, Challenge of the North Cascades, Beckey describes the climbing as “easy in some places,” “delicate and exposed” in others, and in still others “it was unpleasantly difficult and dangerous.” He talks of climbing his way up a 30-foot section of vertical ice where “the wrong slash of the ice ax might have brought the whole chimney down.” On another section, he could see daylight “through the frost feathers 2 feet under the veneer surface.” Summing it up, he calls it “a nightmare of ice problems instead of a route to the summit.”

Beckey returns to Mount Hood in February, in a way. The seasoned mountaineer will give a presentation about some of his climbing adventures over the past 60 years in the Visual Arts Theatre at Mount Hood Community College. The event will be held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 27. It is free and open to the public, though guests are asked to bring food or cash donations to support Barney’s Pantry, a student-run food bank on the campus.

This should be a great show. I saw him give one back in 2003; actually recruited him to put it on for the annual banquet of the Ptarmigans, a mountaineering club that wound down a few years ago. I’d also hoped to get an interview with the notoriously gruff climber, who’s also known for not being into interviews, a touch hard of hearing and somewhat of a casanova. All those traits were in full force that night out at Edgefield 11 years ago, and while he didn’t seem to have many words for me, he had no problem chatting up the young married lady sitting next to him.

Even so, his presentation was great. Back then I felt lucky that I got to see him when he was still climbing at 80. I’m hoping to catch him again at 91 because, you know, you figure he’ll have to stop climbing at some point. Right?

Mount Hood’s Little Lodge — Silcox Hut

(A year ago this coming weekend, we headed up to Mount Hood’s Silcox Hut to celebrate a friend’s birthday, but I never really wrote about it or shared pictures save for a short story I did for The Oregonian. Here’s an alternate version of that story and some pictures from one of the mountain’s truly unique places.)

A glorious day on Mount Hood: sunshine, blue sky, bright white snow and forever mountain views — in January.

We skied all afternoon in this bliss at Timberline, high above the inversion clouds that chilled and socked in Portland for days. But while nearly everyone else on the mountain headed back down into the gray at the end of the day, we got to stay. And not just at Timberline Lodge, which would have been grand itself, but at someplace a little more removed, a little higher up, a touch more intimate.

Someplace called Silcox Hut.


Originally built in 1939 as a warming hut and the upper terminus of the Magic Mile ski lift, Silcox Hut today is a rustic and welcoming alpine lodge on the south side of Mount Hood. Perched at 6,900, it sits at the base of Hood’s best late-season runs on the Palmer Snowfield.

The hut sleeps up to 24 in six small bunkrooms redolent of train berths from a bygone era. Its great room boasts hand-carved tables and chairs, wrought iron accents and a roaring stone fireplace. Characteristic hosts — when we were there it was the hut original, Steve Buchan — blend humor and lore with fantastic meals you’d be hard pressed to find anywhere else on the mountain.


But Silcox has not always been like this.

Before a dedicated group of climbers, architects, craftsmen and other mountain fans formed the Friends of Silcox Hut in 1985, the old stone and timber building had fallen into such neglect and disrepair that the Forest Service reportedly considered burning it down. But the Friends rallied, landed at least one $50,000 grant from the Meyer Memorial Trust and overhauled the hut in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.

DSC_0078In 1993 — 20 years ago this year — Silcox reopened to the public. Timberline operator RLK and Company now runs Silcox Hut, but the Friends still volunteer to tackle maintenance issues and special projects, and artisans like blacksmith Darryl Nelson help preserve the lodge’s classic flair.

Originally open to passing climbers and skiers for a little mid-adventure respite, the hut today is only open to private parties, who often must book their stay well in advance. We looked forward to our night at Silcox for almost a year before it became a reality, plunking down a bit of cash throughout 2012 to guarantee our place with the crew celebrating a friend’s birthday in January 2013.

After a day on the slopes, we piled into the snowcat, all 16 of us full of smiles lumbering up from Timberline to Silcox. Buchan welcomed us, then we grabbed photos of Hood and the hut and the mountains all around in the golden light of sunset. A pasta buffet dinner was warm and fulfilling, whiskey and wine around the fire just right after a day on the mountain, and another morning of the same sunny glory the next day more than anyone could ask for of a January Monday in Oregon.

The single flaw? We only stayed at Silcox one night.


Details for Staying at Silcox Hut

Booking: Weekends and holidays fill up fast. Call the number below to check availability. The hut is also available for weddings and other events.

Rates: Sunday-Thursday, 12-person minimum, bring your own bedding, $145 per person; $165 with bedding. Friday-Saturday and holidays, 16-person minimum, bring your own bedding, $165 per person; $185 with bedding. Includes snowcat ride to and from the hut, as well as dinner and breakfast.

Bonus: Guests at Silcox also have access to the pool, sauna, spa and showers at Timberline Lodge.

Friends: To find out more about the Friends of Silcox Hut, find the group’s page on Facebook or call 503-219-8134.

More information:


The Mount Hood Quarter

I knew they were out there, but until a couple weeks ago, I don’t think I ever came across one. Then, while we were down in the Sisters area for two On Mount Hood book events at the Paulina Springs book shops, I got one back in a handful of change from the general store.

mthoodquarterThere’s nothing incredibly valuable about this quarter. It’s simply part of the United States Mint’s  “America the Beautiful” quarters program, which kicked off in 2010. Through the program, the Mint is releasing 56 different quarters — five a year through 2021 — depicting national parks and other sites from all over the country.

The Oregon quarter showcases the Mount Hood National Forest through a view of Mount Hood over Lost Lake. For a little reference, here’s the vista in real life:

Hood qt shotI’d say they chose a pretty grand representation of some of the beauty of the state and the country.



Timberline Lodge and The Shining

It’s Halloween week, my time of year for watching Stanley Kubrick’s classic adaptation of Stephen King’s novel, The Shining. It is a great and eerie film that within the first few minutes spotlights a couple famous Oregon landmarks — Mount Hood and Timberline Lodge. 

It’s a fleeting glimpse, though, because other than the brief glance of the mountain, the lodge and a couple other minor exterior shots, there wasn’t much of the movie filmed on Mount Hood. Instead, most of it was shot at London’s Elstree Studios using massive sets, sound stages, and a full-size mockup of the lodge’s exterior.

No matter though. All it took was that short little cameo to forever brand Timberline Lodge as the Overlook Hotel from King’s book. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing.


The Shining (and some other books…) in the gift shop at Timberline Lodge.

One other interesting fact about The Shining at Timberline Lodge: in the novel, room 217 of the Overlook Hotel is a haunted one, tainted by scandal and suicide. Rather than spook guests who might have ended up in room 217 at Timberline, the filmmakers were asked to change the room number in the movie to one that didn’t exist at Timberline. That’s why, in the movie, little Danny Torrance asks, “Mr. Hallorann, what is in Room 237?” — not 217.

On Mount Hood in Sisters and Redmond

OMH Paperback coverI’ve taken On Mount Hood all around the mountain, into the Gorge, across Portland, and even out to the coast for different readings and events.

One place it’s not been yet, however, is Central Oregon. That will change this weekend with two events at Paulina Springs Books. The first is tonight at 6:30 at their store in Sisters; the second is tomorrow night at 6:30 at the Redmond store. Always love spending time in this beautiful part of Oregon, so we’re looking forward to a fun weekend…

Friends of Timberline

For years now, I have been wanting and meaning to get involved in some kind of community service effort to give back a little bit with some of my free time. Sure, I’ve donated books here and there, I put a little time in at my daughter’s school, but it’s been pretty unfocused so far.

Part of that has to do with a limited amount of hours to spare from what seems like a pretty spoken-for supply. But part of it also has to do with the fact that I just haven’t quite found something that syncs well with what I care about and what I can do. It’s probably just that I haven’t thought about it hard enough, but who knows.

This summer, however, something stared me straight in the face and pointed me in the right direction. It came in mid August during a book event at Timberline Lodge with a few other authors. It was a beautiful summer day. The mountain was out in full, the lodge was bustling with tourists and summer camp skiers and Pacific Crest Trail hikers from all over the world. I sat outside on Timberline’s back patio talking about the mountain with people and feeling like a lucky person to have such a direct connection to the lodge and the mountain.

33. Timberline book signing

So I’m sitting there, on the back patio of Timberline Lodge, staring at incredible Mount Hood, not to mention talking to Sarah Munro, author of Timberline Lodge: The History, Art, and Craft of an American Icon, and thinking, too, about how I can get involved with something that really matters to me, and it finally dawns on me — Duh, how about the Friends of Timberline?

Founded in 1975 to conserve and restore the art and furnishings of the lodge, the Friends of Timberline have been involved in a range of projects that, essentially, care for the lodge, its artwork and furniture, and its history. Among their more recent efforts, they completed the first phase of a project to light up some of the artwork in the lodge, and they restored the outdoor amphitheater and front steps. Over the years, the Friends have also been involved with public outreach, story and photo archives, and pathways and landscaping outside the lodge, among many other projects.

It’s such an obvious choice for me, for all the reasons already mentioned, but also because the Friends had invited me to speak at their annual meeting and fund-raiser at the lodge this past Saturday. Amy and I went up there on Saturday — another beautiful mountain day — and had a great time talking with so many fans of Mount Hood and Timberline Lodge. We also explored parts of the lodge we’d never seen before, and came to appreciate the lodge and the mountain even more than we already did.

To top it off, we were lucky enough to spend the night at Timberline, wake the next morning for a swim in the pool, and then enjoy a fantastic breakfast in the Cascade Dining Room. It was hard to leave when we had to, but the entire experience gave us even more cause to support Friends of Timberline and to continue enjoying and taking care of not only the lodge, but the amazing mountain it sits on, too.



Mount Hood Snowcats — in LO?

We took a somewhat impromptu family bike ride up to George Rogers Park in Lake Oswego on Sunday, mainly to check out the boats in the Oswego Heritage Council’s annual Collector Car & Classic Boat Show. A slight bicycle malfunction, however, sent us into the car show in search of a gearhead with an allen wrench instead.

We found one, thankfully, and also ended up finding something I never would have expected at a classic car show in Lake Oswego:


It’s an old-school Tucker Sno-Cat from 1968. No one was around to talk to while we were there, but I know from my research for On Mount Hood that snowcats in general have a long history on Mount Hood. Back in 1936, a WPA foreman came up with one of the very first snowcats ever while working on the construction of Timberline Lodge. The lodge also featured one in a great postcard for the ski area back in the 1960s and again for its spring ski pass this year. It’s a Tucker, just like the one we saw. (Tucker, by the way, is still headquartered in Medford, Oregon.)

header-springpass1The snowcats are still widely used on Hood and all over the mountain ski areas for everything from grooming and creating terrain parks to search and rescue missions, climbing shuttles, and as a way to get up to the one-of-a-kind alpine lodge on Hood known as Silcox Hut. 

DSC_0119So, just kind of a cool little Mount Hood/Sno-Cat discovery while we were otherwise out and about. A few more pictures:




Pickathon 2013

It’s kind of a stretch to connect Pickathon, the annual indie music fest happening this weekend in Happy Valley, with Mount Hood, but I’ve been doing it for a while now, whether it’s sharing a picture of the Mountain View stage, which offers a glimpse of the mountain in the distance, or using a line from the Heartless Bastards’ song “The Mountain” as an epigraph for the first chapter of the Mount Hood book. (I first got turned on to them at Pickathon 2010.)

Not sure I have any new connections to make between the festival and the mountain just now, but who knows, maybe I will after this weekend. In the meantime, a few images from last year’s Pickathon to get ready for this year’s . . .





Atkinson Memorial Author Fair

Enjoyed being part of this event so much last year that I’ll be back there with dozens of other authors again this year from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, June 22.

Atkinson Authors flyer--2013

This year’s fair also ties in with the 100-year anniversary celebration of the Oregon City Public Library. On hand for that will be some big guns in the Oregon writing world, including author Matt Love and Oregon Poet Laureate Paulann Petersen.


Spotted at Powell’s today


On Mount Hood — in good Oregon company

It’s always flattering and honoring to come across On Mount Hood in local bookshops. This one came from Graham’s Book & Stationery in Lake Oswego, where the book has found a home amidst a great selection of Oregon books.

OMH Graham's Book & Stationery

One of the things I really like about this picture isn’t just On Mount Hood though, but some of the other books that are there as well.

One row up and to the right is Crossings: McCullough’s Coastal Bridges by Judy Fleagle and Richard Knox Smith. What I love about that is that 12 years ago, Judy Fleagle was the editor of a magazine called Oregon Outside, and I was a furniture truck driver and an aspiring writer looking for a break. Judy gave me that break by publishing one of my very first pieces ever, a story about canoeing some of Oregon’s alpine lakes. The layout and design and editing were so nicely done that I still use that clip whenever I’m pitching other outdoor stories.

Right above Judy’s book is Timberline Lodge: A Love Story, which was edited by Jon Tullis, spokesman at Timberline Lodge. Jon not only provided a blurb for the paperback of On Mount Hood, but he also helped launch the book two weeks ago at Powell’s.

And just to the left is Hood River Valley: Land of Plenty, and below that, Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, both by Janet Cook — now the editor of The Gorge Magazine — and photographer Peter Marbach. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting both of them at past book events and have long admired their work spotlighting some of the beauty of Oregon, the Gorge and, of course, Mount Hood.

Great company to be in . . .

On Mount Hood at Powell’s City of Books

When On Mount Hood initially came out two years ago, we launched it at Powell’s on Hawthorne. And while that was a great event and a great venue to launch a book — and while this may sound a touch petty and ungrateful — I’d be less than honest if I said there wasn’t a part of me that was really hoping it could have happened at the real-deal Powell’s, Powell’s City of Books on Burnside. It’s kind of the dream spot that a lot of writers have in mind.

Well, maybe for the next book, I remember thinking at the time.

Powells 2

The next book did come along — the paperback version of On Mount Hood — and with it the incredible opportunity to kick it off at Powell’s on Burnside.

We did it last night in the storied Pearl Room, and it was great.

But it wasn’t just me and it wasn’t just On Mount Hood.


Gary RIt was also Hood photographer and artist Gary Randall, who shared some of his favorite and most amazing Mount Hood images.

Gary’s been photographing the great Northwest outdoors for decades, and his work has been published and posted and shared all over the place.

He’s got amazing pictures from all around the mountain, and some engaging stories too, from shooting a fierce lightning storm from inside his truck one stormy night to catching the Dollar Lake fire two years ago right when it  blasted a massive mushroom cloud up into the sky.



The night was also Jon Tullis, the spokesman for Timberline  who’s worked at the landmark lodge for more than 26 years. Long a huge fan of the lodge and the mountain, Jon shared some thoughts and a couple short videos celebrating the lodge, including one on the book he wrote and edited, Timberline Lodge: A Love Story.

And last night was also the 70 or so people who turned out to celebrate the beauty and glory and the singularity that is Mount Hood.

There are a lot of people out there who love and enjoy and revere that mountain, and a bunch of us got together at Powell’s last night because of it.

Powell's eventcrp

(Thanks to Sue Bartz and John Burton for some of the event pictures.)

Writers Night at the Springwater Grange — this Saturday!

A little press release about a great writing event happening this weekend:

The Estacada Area Arts Commission is sponsoring its eleventh annual Writers Night at the Springwater Grange on April 20th at 7 pm.  The Springwater Grange is located at  24591 S. Springwater Rd, near the town of Estacada.

mthood-4This year’s event will feature Jon Bell, author of On Mount Hood: A Biography of Oregon’s Perilous Peak.Bell will read from his book, and show slides of the mountain from his extensive collection of images.

Jon Bell will be joined onstage by hosts Stevan Allred and Joanna Rose, and by Portland based writer and publisher Laura Stanfill.  Stanfill’s Forest Avenue Press has recently published its first book, Brave on the Page:  Oregon Writers on Craft and the Creative Life. All four writers are included in this anthology.

To celebrate the publication of Brave on the Page Allred, Rose, and Bell will read work that explores and defines this evocative phrase.  Stanfill will speak about her own creative life, and the pleasures and pitfalls of being a writer, an editor, a publisher, a wife, and the mother of two small children, all while bootstrapping Forest Avenue Press from nothing to a going enterprise in less than a year.

In September Forest Avenue Press will release Allred’s short story collection, A Simplified Map of the Real World. “It’s a suite of linked short stories set in a small town I call Renata,” says Allred.  “For me, being brave on the page has meant writing about the place where I live, fictionalizing it of course, but always running the risk that my fellow Estacadans will feel like I’ve gotten it wrong.”

Rose will read from her novel-in-progress, Everybody’s Rules for Scrabble.  Her novel takes on the controversial issue of abortion.  “There are lots of things we’re scared to talk to each other about, like sex, and death, and religion,” says Rose. “Writing about them takes some courage.  It helps if your parents have already passed on, which mine have.”

As always, host Stevan Allred will invite the entire audience to his home for a reception after the reading.

Forest Avenue Press will release Stevan Allred’s A Simplified Map of the Real World in September of 2013.  Allred has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.  He has survived circumcision, a tonsillectomy, a religious upbringing, the 60’s, the break-up of The Beatles, any number of bad haircuts, the Reagan Revolution, plantar fasciitus, the Lewinsky Affair, the the Florida recount of 2000, the Bush oughts, the War on Terror, a divorce, hay fever, the real estate bubble, male pattern baldness, and heartburn. He is the editor of the zines Dixon Ticonderoga and The Intentional Ducati, and together with Joanna Rose, is the leader of the writing workshop known as The Pinewood Table.

Joanna Rose writes poems, short stories, long stories, and really long stories, true to life and also imagined. Some of them have been published (Bellingham Review, Windfall Journal, ZYZZYVA, High Desert Journal, Story Magazine, and the Oregonian newspaper.)  One of them was so long it became a novel, Little Miss Strange.  She teaches writing in classrooms all over the state, and with Stevan Allred at the Pinewood Table, which is in her living room in a small blue house in southeast Portland.

Laura Stanfill believes in community. She’s the founder and publisher of Forest Avenue Press and the editor of the anthology Brave on the PageOregon Writers on Craft and the Creative Life, a Powell’s Small Press Bestseller. Laura, an award-winning journalist, has been published in local newspapers and magazines in New York, Virginia and Oregon. She earned her English degree from Vassar College and she’s at work on a nineteenth century novel about bobbin lace, music boxes and a fainting pimp. See for more information.

An outdoor enthusiast and wordsmith, Jon Bell has been writing from his home base in the Portland, Oregon, area since the late 1990s. After growing up in Mansfield, Ohio, Jon got a bachelor’s degree in history from Michigan State University, then traveled extensively across the American West before landing in Portland. His first published pieces were about some of his backpacking and climbing excursions in the Northwest, including countless weekends on Mount Hood. His work has appeared inBackpacker, The Oregonian, The Rowing News, Oregon Coast, and many other publications. He is also co-author of the climbing guidebook, Ozone, and a former president of the Ptarmigans Mountaineering Club. Visit his freelance writing web site, He lives in Lake Oswego, Oregon, with his wife, two kids, and a black Lab.



On Mount Hood — and guests — at Powell’s on April 24

For a few months now, I’ve been sharing details about the paperback of On Mount Hoodincluding the event at Powell’s at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 24. That event is just two weeks away, and now I’m really excited to announce that two fantastic friends of Mount Hood will be a part of the night as well.

In addition to my new slideshow and a reading from the book, Jon Tullis, who has been with Timberline Lodge for more than 25 years, and Gary Randall, an incredible photographer who’s been capturing amazing images of Mount Hood for decades, will be sharing their stories and images of the mountain as well.

Jon Tullis is currently the spokesman for Timberline, vice chair of the Oregon Heritage Commission, and also the editor and writer behind the book, Timberline Lodge: A Love Story. He’ll have some classic historical photographs, possibly a short movie about Timberline, and some stories to share from his time at the lodge.

Living  in the shadow of Mount Hood for most of his life, Gary Randall has been a photographer since buying his first camera in 1976. There’s a pretty good chance that if you’ve seen a jaw-dropping shot of Mount Hood that you just can’t ignore,  it came from Gary. He’ll be showcasing some of his absolute Hood favorites.

We’ll have time for some Q and A afterward — and hopefully some other great Hood stories from anyone willing to share — and then maybe head over to Deschutes for a pint or two to fuel plans for our next adventures on Mount Hood.

See you at Powell’s on April 24th!

OMH Paperback cover




Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 78 other followers