OREGON—The Lost Lake
A place with the word “lost” included in its name generally isn’t one of the easier locations to access. Such was the case with the drive to our next campground. It could have been a very scenic, Sunday afternoon tour of the Oregon countryside, but driving in a heavy rainfall added to the difficulty of the trip. Yes, we hadn’t escaped the rainfall . . . it followed us into Hood River, hung around while we toured the town and had lunch, and then continued unabated all the way up the switchbacking mountain road to the Lost Lake Campground at the end of the road. We were two wet ducks when we finally found a spot, after having a little mishap of getting one side of the Airstream’s tires caught in a depression while looking for a site. Not able to back out or pull forward without incurring damage to the trailer, Chris had to unhitch, readjust the angle of the truck in order to tow the trailer in a more desirable angle. All this while it was pouring cats and dogs. But we eventually got settled in, revved up the furnace and dried out. Surprisingly, we later discovered we had actually selected about the best campsite in the entire place. And we had the entire campground of about 100 sites to ourselves . . . What? Oregonians afraid of a little wet weather???
We do enjoy camping in the rain . . . within reason, of course. We love the sound of rainfall on the Airstream’s roof. We love waking up to the sound. We even like sitting out under our canopy during a nice spring shower. But now that we were in another idyllic Oregon location where Mt.Hood reigned over the area, we were getting a little frustrated (one of us more than the other). After breakfast we once again donned our raingear and set out to see what we could possibly see through the mist, low-lying clouds and rainfall.
We weren’t alone. There was, in fact, a General Store selling basic provisions, and renting out a handful of cabins. Run by a couple of very friendly proprietors, we felt as if we were meeting the last two people left on earth. We quickly engaged them in good conversation, learning about Lost Lake and the surrounding area.
The lake is full of trout . . . rainbows, browns, and kokanee salmon. Good fishing right from the shore, or from one of their rented boats. Plenty of trails to take too. Around the lake, through an old growth virgin stand of trees, even up the mountainside. A good drive can be taken along a forest service road leading up to Lolo Pass where the meadows open up to give an outstanding view of Mt. Hood. More great trails to take from the pass. Lots to do . . . when the weather improves. Predicted to clear up in about 2 or 3 days. Until then—just stay dry and wait it out. Oregon weather is always changing.
So we returned to the camper. Chris read and Melinda organized her photos. Then we ate lunch. Sometime later we heard a strange sound . . . silence. No raindrops plummeting the roof. We were encouraged and decided to risk an outdoor activity. We geared up and headed out.
At first we thought we’d just wander down the lakeside trail a short distance, but when the rainfall didn’t appear to be returning, we kept going. Pretty soon, we were far enough around the lake that it didn’t make sense to backtrack. We decided to risk taking the entire 3.5-mile loop.
It was an outstandingly beautiful trail. With the lake as the centerpiece, the hillsides leading out from it were cloaked in a mantle of various shades of greens, saturated all the more by the wet conditions. At one time, a crew had obviously invested a lot of time and labor constructing boardwalks across marshy areas, lining stones along the pathways, and using logs to make steps over uneven ground. We thoroughly enjoyed our hike, and glad that we had brought out cameras along.
The trees don’t grow like this in Indiana. We were astounded by the size of the cedars, firs and hemlocks we were walking past. It was like being in a primordial forest and there were a lot of exclamations coming from Melinda who was bringing up the rear. And we had it all to ourselves.
Maybe the photos describe it best . . .
But getting the views of Mount Hood from Lost Lake, another classic view that people come from all around to witness, doesn’t seem to be in the cards for us. Instead of seeing the peak reflected in this clear mountain lake, a setting depicted in many postcard and calendar photos, we see only low clouds and mist obscuring the view. We stood on the lakeshore at a spot aptly named Panoramic Point and looked out over the water, envisioning what hid from our sight.
To the native people of the region, the mountain is known as Wy’East, son of the Great Spirit. Anglo explorers with the Vancouver Expedition named the peak Mount Hood in honor of an English navy Admiral. Standing at 11,239 feet, it is the highest mountain in the state, the fourth highest in the Cascade Range and dominates the horizon for miles around. It is one of the most beautiful and symmetrical of the Cascade volcanoes. Twelve glaciers extend to near the timberline on all its sides. Alpine meadows, waterfalls, glaciers, hot springs and more than 4,000 miles of streams and 60 lakes fill its forest.
Mt.Hood is the country’s most-climbed glacier peak. Climbers typically set out for the 8-hour round trip from Timberline Lodge. Climbing equipment and special precautions are necessary. It’s safe to climb the mountain only from May through early July. Climbers start out around 2am, aiming to reach the summit by mid-morning and be off the mountain when the afternoon sun increases the chance of an avalanche. It is a formidable peak.
Our second day began as the day before . . . more rain. Heavier, in fact. With some windy conditions mixed in. Chris had hopes for some fishing action, but every sport has its limits. We’re hanging around this morning to see what materializes, but the predictions aren’t in our favor. We’ll probably just give up and head out a day sooner than expected. Maybe it’ll be somewhat drier down at lower elevations. At least we probably won’t be lost within the clouds.
From the wet Northwest,
Chris and Melinda