If two hikers start over 200 miles apart with kids, grandparents, and snow between them what's the likelihood they'll arrive at their meeting point at the same time?
Turns out it's possible, if not likely. I wouldn't have guessed it either, but that's just what happened. After I dropped the girls (and Henry) at Grams and Gramps house I headed for Timberline at 6,000 feet on Mt. Hood. An hour before I even woke up my hiking partner Denise (aka ActionBetty) left the Tri Cities with her dog, Mr. Big. As I drove up the twisting road from Government Camp to Timberline Lodge I noticed a truck that looked just like the one Denise had described.
We weren't supposed to meet until 11am so we got a bit of a head start after arriving at 10:30. Of course, neither of us really knew what we were doing being a couple of Washingtonians in Oregon, so it took a little while longer to register and find the climber's trail.
At least I think it was the climber's trail.
Whatever, it doesn't matter. What did matter was the dark blue sky that perfectly framed the icy goodness of Mt. Hood in front of us. And the few wispy clouds floating above the specter of Mt. Jefferson behind us. Amazingly, it was another perfect day on Mt. Hood.
We had a modest goal of getting to the Silcox Hut about 1,000 feet up the mountain. We both hoped to go beyond, but my late start left us little time to explore beyond the hut.
The hut itself is pretty cool and apparently rentable. We saw a bright yellow snocat as we approached, which probably transported the people who were staying there.
The only downside to the route is that there's little feeling of wilderness. Ski lifts run up to about 8,400 feet so they were an ever-present reminder that we were way to civilized. Most of the skiers stayed on the other side of the Palmer Glacier so we saw only a few climbers up close.
While we were eating we talked to a climber who had plans to get to above 9,000 feet and camp there. He was already having a tough time and post-holed with fair regularity, but seemed fairly experienced. (Denise would seem him at the end of the day staggering back to the parking lot stating that his body had failed him.)
We had both carried our snowshoes up to this point and although I opted to keep mine stowed Denise got hers out. We had only a short amount of time to climb after lunch, but managed another 500 feet of gain following the mini ridge lines.
What had taken a fair amount of time to climb up took just a fraction on the way down. We had hoped for some glissading, but that wasn't to be as the snow was soft, not quite steep enough, and the occasional rock made it seem a dubious plan.
Back at the truck I was about 45 minutes ahead of schedule for heading back to Grams and Gramps for dinner. Traffic ate some of that up, but i still beat my 5pm return time.
The only thing I regret was that I wasn't bound for the summit on such a glorious day. I think Mt. Hood will have to get added to that list and I'll make a go of it soon. This time the totals were only about three miles and 1,500 feet of gain. Next time it'll be a lot more.