Submitted by: Ben McKinley
It seems the world is only getting more complicated with the evolving pandemic and the explosive racial tension across the country. It's impacting us all in different and disruptive ways. I've found that a return to nature is the best medicine for me. Fortunately, Mt. Hood National Forest and all the designated trailheads and access points are starting to open up as of Friday of last week. I was able to spend Memorial Day weekend on Mt. Hood and took advantage of Timberline's reopening as well as a number of lower elevation trails and wanted to share some of these experiences.
As many know, this is primetime volcano climbing and skiing weather. After fresh snow and some natural and human triggered avalanches, things should start to settle into an isothermic pattern of freeze/thaw each day. This allows for more predictable snow travel that benefits from early starts and timing of the corn cycle each day. Beware of late morning and afternoon rock and icefall from thawing. That said, you can ski to/from the parking lot at Timberline and Meadows. You'll have to walk a bit from Cooper Spur and other lower elevation access points. We skied from Illumination Saddle (9,300') and enjoyed 1,500' of smooth dry snow on our last tour before it got sticky. So good for the soul.
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The trails around Government Camp (3900') are mostly cooked out and ready for action. We ran the Crosstown Trail in Govy and ran to Trillium Lake on the Barlow Trail and encountered minimal snow. Route finding was a breeze and the dirt is in great shape. I expect higher elevation trails to hold more snow while anything below 4,000' should be good to go. Keep in mind that the pent up desire is significant so consider less travelled trails to avoid too much physical contact with other outdoor users.
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Mt Hood Meadows does ask that we park only on the access road and avoid parking in their gated lots. Let's be sure to honor resort and National Forest requests as restrictions ease up so we can keep this positive trend going. Typical variable weather is expected to continue so keep an eye on forecasts and be sure to carry necessary navigation, safety and nourishment when you do venture out. We've seen a couple rescues on Mt Hood that have garnered a lot of attention. It's important that we all continue to embrace the mellow and avoid risking a rescue situation that would require people to work in close proximity with each other. It's also critical that we go in prepared to Leave No Trace, which includes proper disposal of trash and human waste. If you need a refresher on human waste, check this out. Hope to see you all on the mountain soon!