This week’s hike was a whim. My sister and I were in the back of my parents’ Subaru riding to the Ducks game on Saturday when we realized we didn’t have a hike picked out yet. I have almost no data left on my phone for this month (I watch Netflix at the gym and it uses it up so quickly now it’s ridiculous), so I grabbed her phone and did a random search for Mt. Hood hikes. We hadn’t done anything off Lolo Pass since our first hike (Ramona Falls) so I decided that was a good start. Bald Mountain was a 6.6 mile hike with a 1400 foot elevation gain and seemed perfect for our needs this week. It was decided. In the five minutes I searched on the phone I got car sick. I cannot do anything but watch the road if I’m a passenger. Motion sickness is awful.
When we woke up on Sunday morning, it was raining. Neither of us expected that, so out came the rain gear. As we got in the car and headed east, the torrential downpour started. I even had to put the “winshell” wipers in hyperdrive for part of our commute on Highway 84. We kept saying it would lighten up as we got up higher. As it turns out, we were right. When we finally reached the Lolo Pass Trail Head, it was a light sprinkle. We ate our Subway in the car, put on our rain coats, and headed out. There was only one other car on all of Lolo Pass Rd. This is Oregon, people. If you don’t get out in the rain, you don’t get out. Buck up.
The hike had a lot of varied terrain. You start in an old burn with rhododendrons everywhere. Then you make your way into a densely packed forest and start heading up the switchbacks. There were so many mushrooms of so many varieties, it was crazy. About four years ago I went on a bike tour with a bunch of hashers. If you don’t know what hashers are, you’re probably better off (kidding). They call themselves drinkers with a running problem. I always wanted to be a hasher but I have two things holding me back: I cannot run after back surgery and I cannot drink beer because I have Celiac disease. Since they run and drink, I’m kind of out of the club. For information about Oregon hashers click here. Beware, they are fun. Anyway, on our tour Pabst, one of the hashers, (the others were O, Scratchy Hole, String Cheese, and Dancing Queen) kept making up really funny names for the birds we saw. You see, O is kind of a bird freak. He names every flying thing that is within about 10 miles and insists on pointing it out to you. Pabst decided it was all lies and he could play the same game. He started saying, “Oh look a great pileated blue tip” (which of course does not exist but sounds scientific) every time a new bird appeared. It was hilarious. Well today on the hike there were these really pretty red mushrooms. My sister decided they were called Red Death Drops, the most deadly mushrooms in the world. Even touching them meant certain death. She then explained that they were often confused with Red Yum Yums, the most delicious mushrooms in the world. This confusion had the potential to cause world-wide chaos and untold deaths. These are the types of things we talk about while we are hiking.
After about two and a half miles we reached an intersection where you could continue on the Pacific Crest Trail, take some other off-shoots including Tom Spur, or hit the Timberline Trail. Our route took us up the Timberline Trail for only a moment. Then we turned off at the unmarked Bald Mountain Spur. Climbing this trail was the reason that you can’t hate switchbacks. It was the steepest thing we have ever climbed. It did not meander or turn. It went straight up. We had to stop and catch our breath quite frequently. When you are yearning for switchbacks, you know you’re on a steep hill.
It had been snowing on us since we hit the trail intersection. By the time we reached the summit, it was big beautiful flakes sticking on our heads and the ground. It was absolutely incredible. You are supposed to have views of Majestic Mt. Hood on the hike, but we didn’t mind the fog bank because of the amazing snowfall just for us. On the hike we only saw one other person and he was hardcore hiking on the Pacific Crest Trail. My sister said hello to him, after we sang him a song about knives, but he ignored us. He quickly disappeared from sight.
The way back to our trusty steed (Sid Hoffman) was entirely down hill. It was heavenly. We did the hike in less than three hours and headed home to buy snowshoes. Yep, we’re hiking all winter. Snow shoes are necessary. This adventure is awesome.
For information about Bald Mountain click here.