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.
We’ve tried this winter to ski, we have. But conditions have not been all that conducive, at least not for us and the time we can commit. Rain soaked us out the day after a book event in Hood River and, earlier, the morning after a fun night at Timberline Lodge after we’d gotten in some good runs at Summit.
But finally this past Sunday, the mountain shined on us in full.
And it worked out. The day was an incredible one on Mount Hood: absolute bluebird sky, nice spring conditions at Timberline, and just a sense of gratitude for being up there on the beautiful mountain.
Madeline — and Amy and I too —skied the Magic Mile for the very first time. Pretty impressive for a seven-year-old who just started skiing last year.
On top of all that, Spence, who’s been dying to get on a chairlift and skim down a slope, had his wishes granted, too.
UPDATE: Because it’s spring break, and because today was another gorgeous day, Amy and Madeline headed back to the mountain for another session. Deadlines kept me and Spence at home working, but the ladies enjoyed a day on the hill. And though I was super impressed by Madeline’s skiing yesterday on Hood, today she apparently cranked it up another level — to the 8,500-foot level on Hood to be exact, otherwise known as the Palmer.
In case you’ve not come across it yet, a former Portland Tribune colleague of mine, Ben Jacklet, launched a site this fall called Shred Hood. Co-founded with Bjorn van der Voo, Shred Hood is a community news and information website that covers the skiing, snowboarding and backcountry scene on Mount Hood.
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 . . .
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.
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.
It 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.
(Thanks to Sue Bartz and John Burton for some of the event pictures.)