Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Saturday on Mount Hood: Billion Dollar Views (and Love on a Plate)

"Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life." - Rachel Carson

You may remember reading about my friend Sarah, from North Carolina. When she came to visit in February, my family and I gave her a grand tour of the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge. I love her visits. Not only do I get to catch up with a great friend, I can play tour guide and show off a few of the many things that make the Pacific Northwest so unique and beautiful.

Sarah returned in late August and I had yet another adventure planned for her. Yes, another trip through "The Gorge." This time, however, she was going to get up close and personal to one of Oregon's crown jewels - Mount Hood.

We started our journey, this time, on the Washington side of the Columbia River and traveled along Highway 14. While lacking the waterfalls that the Historic Columbia River Highway is known for, the northern route through the Gorge also offers many scenic vistas of its own. On a clear day, the view from Cape Horn rivals, if not surpasses, that of its cousin, Crown Point, across the river.

The view from Cape Horn

We crossed back to Oregon on the Bridge of the Gods and headed east on I-84 to Hood River, making a brief stop at Starvation Creek to take in the waterfall there.

Speaking of starving, our stomachs were rumbling and there is no greater place to stop for lunch in Hood River than Apple Valley Country Store on a "festival" weekend when they are serving barbeque. A feast of pork ribs, coleslaw with fresh pears, and apple cider beans. Or, as I refer to it, "Love on a Plate."

Love on a Plate

Since they were celebrating Gravenstein Apple Days, we also had freshly baked apple dumplings with vanilla ice cream. They were the perfect way to top off an incredible lunch.

 Once our bellies were completely full and satisfied, we took the drive up to Lost Lake Resort. On a beautiful and warm August weekend, this is one of the most popular spots in the Mount Hood National forest. Lost Lake offers rental cabins, a campground, a general store, boat rentals and an incredible view of Mount Hood.

Mount Hood from Lost Lake

We sat on a bench for a spell and took time to enjoy the view and sound of families who played in the lake. We then headed back toward the Hood River Valley below and continued our trip around the mountain along Highway 35.

There was a lot of construction along the "back side" of Mount Hood, as there is most summer months as the window for road work is so short. However, as we traveled on a Saturday, we were only stopped by one signal light as work had ground to a halt for the weekend.

We traveled a bit out of our way and made a stop at Little Crater Lake which is actually an artesian well with water so clear the bottom 45 feet down could be seen. It gleamed like a sapphire in the sun.

If you have seen a picture of Mount Hood with a lake in the foreground, it is probably one of two places: Lost Lake, which we had visited earlier in the afternoon, or Trillium Lake which was our next stop.

Mount Hood and Trillium Lake

I refer to Trillium Lake as one of the "Billion Dollar" views of Mount Hood. Sarah, my youngest daughter Odessa, and I took a short hike along the shore. Here we got a small taste of what I consider a wilderness delicacy - fresh mountain huckleberries. We picked small handfuls at a time and happily popped them in our mouths as we strolled along the trail.

We returned to the trailhead near the parking area at the dam. We sat and watched the alpenglow on the mountain as the sun set. It was a perfect end to a summer day drive on the loop around Mount Hood.

A great day with an even better friend!


  1. Cari, I'm always touched and amazed by the care and planning you put into our adventures. And they are always a huge highlight of my trip. I feel like God has blessed me to give me a friend who enjoys the beauty He's created as much as I do. And you've given me so many opportunities that I never would have had if I hadn't come out to play in the Gorge with you! So many moments I won't ever forget. Sitting and watching bald eagles with you at Bonneville. Icy water rushing over my poor, hot feet at Wahkeena. You've shared your love and enthusiasm and passion for this area with me and it's infected me in the best way possible. Thank you so much, my sister-friend! It has meant the world to me and I can't wait until next time!

  2. Beautiful! I am so jealous. Wish I could have gone, too! This is the next best thing. What a way to chronicle the journey. As always, you make my mouth water and my soul yearn for the pure lovely wilderness of Oregon.