Wait. Mt. Hood isn't in Washington. It's not on the bucket list. What gives?
Well, what can I say? It's a volcano. It's just across the border. There was a good group going. And it is on the next bucket list. You know, the one that starts when this bucket list is done. (And in case you were wondering, the current list is supposed to be done this year.)
So we had a chance to tag the highest point in Oregon. Friday night was a long drive full of traffic and a later-than-hoped-for arrival at Timberline. At 11:30 we crawled into sleeping bags in and around the truck. I never realized just how loud snowplows were. Still, I managed an hour or so of sleep before Scott was kicking me awake.
Boots on, pack on, light on.
From the Timberline Lodge we followed snowcat tracks up along the ski area. Slackers were skipping the bottom 2,000 feet of the climb and starting fresh two hours up the mountain.
Speaking of people who were cheating, Scott, Tom, and KC were all on skis. Only I was man enough to be prepared to walk down the mountain while they planned to have cosmos at the truck. Some friends.
Once off the roads, there were great steps kicked into the snow by the thousands who have been up this season. While the skiers were far more efficient on the roads I had the advantage on the steps.
The sky grew lighter, but the sun never showed itself except in a thin strip beyond the Steel Cliffs. We gathered there before the push to the Hogsback. The simple walk up the snow was nearly over. Above us was Hell's Kitchen, the Pearly Gates, and the summit.
Only one problem: A professional guide told us there was ice falling through the Pearly Gates. He was turning his clients back. He said that even if he had no clients he wouldn't push it today.
We continued up to the Hogsback just to take a look, but it wasn't our day. I'm sure there were others who summited after us. There were several very large teams prepping to cross the narrow ridge and the bergschrund.
I always worry I'll be struck with summit fever and make a bad decision at times like these. But rather than stressing about not making it to the top I was happy just to be in the mountains. No worries about coming back some day. Heck, it's only a four hour drive.
Now if I could only have skied down I'd have been a lot less cranky when I got to the truck. I took one shift behind the wheel, snoozed a bit (not at the same time), and was showered and ready to go by 3pm. Go where? Well...