Tuesday, February 10th, 2009
On Friday, the four of us (Porch, Bomber, Sam and I) met up at 5am and drove to the other side of Mt. Hood. I had rented the Flag Point fire tower for 3 days. Reservations for this and other cool locations can be made on Recreation.gov. On the way we stopped in Hood River for coffee. Porch also picked up a set of chains.
The idea was to drive 44 until as far as it was plowed. Everything I had read led me to believe that it would be plowed the 10 miles to Billy Bob Sno-Park (great name). Not only was it completely unplowed, but there was a snow cat extracting an F150 that had tried to get up the road… This turned the 8 mile snowshoe into 18.
Continued below the images…
So everyone else bailed
Not that I can blame them.
After driving back to Hood River for lunch with the group, I headed back to the trail head alone, quickly repacked and started walking. Around 4pm it had started getting dark and the weather was turning. However, I was content to bivy in the snow with 10 miles already behind me. It was a very cold and long night. I woke well before dawn and had to wait for the sun to rise.
The weather on Saturday was clear and crisp. I reached the fire tower in the early afternoon and quickly climbed to see all the views.
- To the west Mt Hood stands tall.
- To the north: Adams and Ranier.
- To the south: Jefferson, 3-fingered Jack and the 3-sisters.
- to the East: the vast plains of eastern Oregon
That night, timberline lit up the side of Hood. By morning clouds had swept in around 3000 feet (The tower sits at 5600′). This made Eastern Oregon look like a vast sea with only a few island peaks sticking out.
It was beautiful, but lonely…
On Sunday, I split and hauled up wood – the next few people should be good :)
Didn’t expect to be alone, or I would have brought a book. So, I started working through all of the literature that had been left over the years at the tower: First there was Popular Science, then the New Yorker, then a “Joy of sex” book that someone had left from the 1970. Surprisingly, that one didn’t make me feel less alone.
That night the weather turned rough and the tower started to swayed violently. Woke up several times. In the morning there were 2 new inches of powder and it had dropped to 20 degrees below freezing.
18 miles back and 2 hour ride home
I was not looking forward to this, but it actually went well. I pushed on hard and made it to the car in just 6 hours. On the way, I spotted many sets of animal tracks: rabbit, cougar and k9 (probably coyote). The only real issue was that extreme cold immediately froze the drinking tube. Had to unpack each time I needed water.
Nice solo weekend
The “solo” part was unexpected, but fun. I don’t do it much.
Can’t recommend the fire tower enough. Even if you only get one night. Even if you have to do the full 18 miles and camp half way. Even then, the place is worth the trouble.