Paradise Park Solo

For my first ever solo backpacking trip, I wanted to go somewhere familiar.  Somewhere that was comfortable enough that the new challenge of being on my own wouldn't feel too daunting.  Somewhere close-ish to home.  Somewhere beautiful.  I know I'd just been there two weeks ago, but Paradise Park seemed like the perfect destination for this weekend's solo adventure.

Making this trip on my own without anyone else leading the way made me realize how frequently I defer to Barry to read maps and find our way when we're backpacking.  Even though I've made this trip several times before, I'd never paid much attention to the turns we'd taken at trail junctions or the distance between landmarks on the hike.  I've been happy to follow Barry's lead and enjoy the views.  I was much more in tune than ever before with the specifics of navigating this hike (this very straightforward hike) which, despite its ease, was still really satisfying.  I plan to take more of a lead in future non-solo trips so I can have a similar experience on other trails.

The hike was as picturesque as ever with clear blue skies, wild flowers in bloom, and idyllic streams flowing with refreshing water.  Once I made it to my destination and set up camp near Split Rock,  I settled in for an evening of reading, map-studying, and lots of photo-taking.  I slept with ease that night, which I'd wondered if I'd be able to do when I decided to strike out on my own.  I was woken around 6am by the footsteps of an early morning hiker.  I watched as the sun started to light up the sky.  I enjoyed a few cups of coffee.  And I read a lot more (I'm rereading All the Pretty Horses and am struck again by how beautiful the book is).  A few hours later, I made the hike out on trails that now feel more familiar than ever.


Paradise Park with Friends

To make full use of a day off of work for the Forth of July, we went on our second backpacking trip this week.  We hustled out to Mt. Hood after work on Wednesday and met up with friends at Timberline Lodge.  Packs on our backs, we started out on the Timberline Trail at 10pm with the destination of Paradise Park in mind.  I've done this hike plenty of times, but never in the dark.  It was a different experience to be focused solely on my headlamp's spot of illumination in front of me, surrounded otherwise by blackness, instead of the vast scenes that usually capture my interest while hiking.  The hike flew by - conversation with a group definitely helped - and we set up camp on a ridge with a great view of the peak of Hood.  We had quite a star show before heading to bed around 3am - later than I've been up in years.  Barry and I started the morning with a short hike to a lookout over the clouds that had settled in over night.  After a few cups of coffee, we hiked back and hung out with our friends at the site.  We had a nice, long, lazy day (at least I did - Barry went for a run while I took a nap) before saying goodbye to our friends and heading back home in order to make it back for work on the 5th.  I loved seeing the familiar trail in the light of a beautiful day.



Pinnacle Ridge to Elk Cove

Barry and I hiked up Pinnacle Ridge on the north side of Mount Hood this weekend.  The trail is in bad need of maintenance with downed trees crisscrossing it, bushes growing over it, and many stretches where the trail completely disappears for under debris for a bit.  We lost the trail a few times and had to backtrack to get ourselves going in the right direction again.  The hike, though, was lovely - lots of flowers, stark scenes of trees burned in the Dollar Lake fire, and views of nearby peaks.  When we got to Timberline Trail, we headed east and set up camp at Elk Cove.  Our campsite was perfect.  I read, I napped, I read some more.  We watched clouds hover over Mount Hood and settled in for a good night's sleep.

We decided that we didn't want to go back the way we'd come because the trail had been so challenging to pick through the day before, so we descended by way of the Elk Cove trail.  We were treated to stunning views of Hood and scents of amazingly fragrant wildflowers... and a two mile road hike back to the car at the trailhead where we'd started.