Sunday, September 30, 2012

An afternoon and evening on Mount Hood --Cooper Spur and Timberline Lodge

I visited Portland in late September 2012 to experience the vibrant atmosphere of Jeld-Wen Field while rooting for DC United against the Portland Timbers, but first I wanted to enjoy a fall hike on Mount Hood. I was determined to try a hike on the east side of the mountain, a side I have never hiked before, so we headed for the Cooper Spur trail.  We got a bit of a late start, so that we lacked the time and energy to get to the top, but the hike was still beautiful and the views splendid.

We began our climb from the Cloud Cap parking lot at about noon.

After climbing steadily, we got some great views of Mounts Adams, Rainier and St. Helens to the north.

We stopped for lunch after a couple of hours, enjoying a closer look at Mount Hood above and the Eliot Glacier right in front of us.
Mt Hood and Eliot Glacier

 We climbed toward Cooper Ridge following a series  of switchbacks, enjoying closer views of the glacier

Cooper Ridge, our destination
Eliot Glacier seen from Cooper Spur

Eliot Glacier seen from Cooper Spur
Finally, we ran into a spot on the trail that was completely blocked by frozen snow.  We were only a half hour from the top of the ridge,but we were tired, and the road to Cloud Cap had been badly rutted in spots, and we did not want to drive back in the dark.  So here is where we stopped our ascent.
Switchbacks back down Cooper Spur
On the way back down, we paused for this photo of Mount  Adams in the distance:
As we reached the lower part of the hike, we took advantage of a partial loop along the Tilly Jane Trail, passing by Polallie Canyon, carved out by a now-melted glacier.  The canyon culminates in this bowl:

And here is the view across the canyon, with slivers of ice showing through the bottom of the canyon wall, and small springs emerging from the middle of the  wall

Polallie Canyon
Some  of the trees near the edge of the canyon had been feeling the effects of the winds

We reached the bottom of the hike at the Tilly Jane historic area, but still had a mile of up and down hiking past the Tilly Jane parking area, then back to Cloud Cap campground. By the time  we hit our car it was after 6 PM, and the darkness was gathering as we carried our bags up to the Reed College ski cabin where we were going to spend the night.  The moon was almost full as we drove up to Timberline Lodge where we had an exceptional meal.  We shared a salmon bisque, the soup of the day, and an argula salad with watermelon and a locally farmed feta that had a smooth taste and consistency unlike any feta I had ever  had before.

Salmon bisque and arugula salad at Cascade Dining Room, Timberline Lodge
For our main course, we had a salmon poached in a "verjus" served with fennel and other vegetables and fregola sarda a large couscous, and intensely flavored lamb T-bones accompanied by nice mashed potatoes and  amazingly flavorful cherry tomatoes.
I could not resist checking out the dessert menu, and we chose the lemon posset, served with a bittersweet chocolate ganache, a cranberry compote, and an orange-thyme  flavored, thin crisp.  Each element was delicious, and the combination made it a fitting end to an excellent meal!