I probably shouldn’t share this, but I think a few of my Mount Hood stories already have: the weekend after Labor Day can be one of the most glorious of the summer.
The past couple Labor Days, for us anyway, have been ripe with the first signs of the season to come: chilly, gray, damp; the kind of weather that makes it feel OK to stay inside for a change. But that transition can be a hard one to make, but at least the first weekend of it is usually just a fleeting reminder to get the rest of your summer in while you can.
And how we got it in this past weekend at Lost Lake. I won’t share exactly why this annual trip to the mountain’s Northwest side this time of year sits so high atop the list, but I think it’s plain to see.
It can be tough to get the popular lakeside campsites in the campground at Lost Lake, but luckily many of the other sites, tidy and surrounded by soaring Doug firs and lodgepole pines, leave little to groan about. Even so, it’s not really about being in the campground at Lost Lake. It’s all about being on the water.
And that goes for everyone.
Our escape to Lost Lake this summer found us there for three nights. The first two days on the lake were summertime at its best, with sun and swimming and heat and barely a care in the world. I thought repeatedly about doing the three-mile hike around the lake or the 4.6-mile one up Lost Lake Butte, which I’ve never done, but the lake just kept pulling me back and making me stay. Why leave the sunny shoreline when days like this are as numbered as they are?
As if on cue, Sunday morning dawned breezy and with an unexpected chill in the air. The trees swayed with high mountain wind and white clouds swirled with the blue sky. The sun shone, but it never warmed above 65 degrees — a difference of at least 15 degrees from the days prior. Out on the wrinkled lake, tiny whitecaps sprayed off the waves, and where, days earlier, scores of rowboats, canoes, kayaks, rafts and standup paddle boards plied the waters, now only a handful bobbed around. Still, we lingered all day, chasing the sunshine and crawfish, soaking in just one more view of the mountain and hanging on to what might have been the very last drop of summertime on Lost Lake.
On we go into 2015, but not before a quick look back at some of my favorite Mount Hood times of the past year. Here’s to all of them — and to all those that lay ahead in the new year.
Pretty sure I already wrote an end-of-summer-on-Mount-Hood post, but that was before we went to Lost Lake a few weeks later. It’s been a few weeks since that trip even, but let me tell you, from crawdads and newts to sunlit hikes, stand-up paddle boards, kayaks and fishing, summer was alive and well on Lost Lake well into September.
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.
There’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:
Most trips to my favorite lake on Mount Hood — Lost Lake — are full of the same kinds of experiences: stunning views of the mountain, refreshing swims, quiet paddles out into the middle, and plenty of newts.
For good reason, Lost Lake is almost always kind of full of other people, too. But there’s something about the crowds at Lost Lake that actually adds to the experience somehow. All the people swimming and playing, fishing and boating — having fun and enjoying life out there on the water — combined with the lake’s rustic cabins and painted rowboats, gives it a classic summertime feel; like summer camp as a kid.
All that said, however, it’s also nice to have Lost Lake on a beautiful day almost all to yourself. That’s exactly what happened a couple weeks ago, when my family was out from Ohio, school was still in, and the weather was perfect for a day on Lost Lake.