The Book. The Mountain. Everything in between.

Thunder, lightning and Dollar Lake on Mount Hood

Because of the snow still piled on the Timberline Trail and the looming high clouds above, and just maybe because of the far-off thunder in the distance, I had my eyes focused on my GPS, which was supposed to be guiding us toward Dollar Lake, a tiny tarn tucked into the northwest shadow of Mount Hood. It’s a lake I’ve always wanted to explore but that in 18 years of traipsing all over the mountain, I never have. It’s not that hard to find, but it’s not super straightforward either. No matter, I had my GPS and we would find it.

“There’s a cairn right back there,” said my friend, Wyatt, pointing out a tidy pile of rocks marking a side trail that I’d just completely blown past,   Hmmm. Yeah, that’s probably the way.

We’d decided to hike to Dollar Lake on Sunday as a way to have a cooling destination to counter the heat that’d been baking the metro region for the prior few days. Thanks to a quick change in the weather, we didn’t really need the cooling off, but we headed for Dollar Lake anyway, setting out up Hood’s Vista Ridge trail, one of the classic access points to the mountain’s northwest reaches.

The trail slopes up a scenic ridge marred by the 2012 Dollar Lake fire — marred, or rejuvenated, depending on how you look at it. There were just a few avalanche lilies on display.

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Higher up, we ran into plenty of snow and some ominous clouds, but they were high and the mountain was out, so we pressed on, determined to find the lake.

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The GPS pointed us in the right direction, and Wyatt’s keen observation found the trail up to the lake. It was just a ways beyond a sign that brought back a very clear memory from our hike on the Timberline Trail last year. I’ve not written about that yet, but it’s coming.

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We thought the lake might have still been frozen over or buried in snow. It was, but only partially. In fact, the lingering snow and ice actually made it even more of a sight than we’d expected.

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The views of the mountain from up near this little lake are also pretty amazing.

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Oliver, too, seemed to enjoy it. I knew he would. He always does.

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We didn’t tarry, though. Not only were the mosquitos happy to see what might very well have been their first meal of the season, but the looming clouds and thunder ceased to loom and actually started to rumble. There wasn’t much else we could do other than high-tail it back down the ridge to the car, where the lightning cracked, the hail pelted and the icy lagers refreshed.

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