On Falling Down

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Pacific Crest Trail: Barlow Pass to Timberline Lodge
Roundtrip: 10 miles
Elevation Gain: 1700 ft
Date: May 1, 2015
HIikers: Harpo + Groucho

We’re housesitting for two huge and adorable cats who need food and attention at least twice a day in Beaverton, OR. The PCT is only east about 60 miles as the crow flies, so yesterday we headed towards Mt Hood for day hike, hopefully to find snow for practicing self arrest. We got some ice axes this XMAS (thanks Sandy and Gerry!) and wanted to try them out before our southbound journey begins…

We drove out Highway 35 to Barlow Pass, where the PCT crosses the southern slopes of Mount Hood. Heading north we passed a few other trails available for winter snow shoeing or summer hiking.

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Parking at Barlow Pass Groucho and I were on trail at 8:15 with day packs plus ice axes and our new microspikes. Blogger Rain Runner posted some snowy photos of this area just 10 days ago so we hoped we’d catch at least a little compact snow and ice to test our axes and traction gear.

The first three miles are a breeze – the trail winds along gently sloping second growth, as we ascended the trees got bigger and the forest more spacious. The trail was frequently blazed for the snowshoe and cross country ski trails which intersect the PCT. Aside from the 20+ early season blowdowns this section was easy peasy.

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At 3.5 miles we were looking out over the Salmon River canyon to the west. Half a mile further we broke tree line and were gazing upon the southern slopes of Mount Hood, walking through the weirdly lunar / beach vibe of scrub brush and volcanic ash.

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We hit an intersection with the timberline trail around mile 4 where we took a few flicks, but then continued up the PCT in a Northwesterly arch toward the now visible Timberline Lodge – a ski lodge featured in the movie adaptation of Steven King’s The Shining.

As we approached the lodge, we came upon a few gentle slopes with sufficient snow to practice self arrest – after 45 minutes of throwing ourselves down hills with axes we started to feel a little chilly and we found a sunny spot for a snack before heading back.

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