I arrived at Trillium Lake Campground near Mount Hood on 9/30 around 4, it was still raining as it had been the whole ride since Silverton. The first come first serve campground was nearly empty so I drove around a few times looking for a site as the rain continued.

I found the perfect site and waited an hour or so to setup while the rain died down. I eventually got setup and cooked a chicken breast and some asparagus on the grill. The evening was finished off with some of the local craft beers I had been collecting on my trip sitting around a fire. I realized this was actually the first campfire I had had since the 1st week of my trip in Yellowstone. There had been a campfire ban in effect thru all of Washington due to the lack of rain this summer. The fire was such a treat to have that I would have otherwise taken for granted if not for the ban in Washington. I took in the heat and watched the flames dance with each for a couple hours

 Before going to bed took a walk down to the lake the is the namesake of the campground. The sky had cleared up since the rain stopped and I had the most bright and beautiful view of the stars I have seen in since I can’t remember. I forgot stars could get this bright, they sky was light up like a Christmas tree. I loved this view and stayed for a bit before walking back to my tent to sleep for the night.

It was a cold night dipping down to 32 degrees. I had the gear for it, but I still felt it. I was cold in the morning and right about what I was about to make some coffee I thought to myself… why not start another fire? I had been so stifled by the fire restrictions in Washington it didn’t even occur to me earlier. The morning fire was wonderful and a perfect match with some coffee to warm up in the morning.

I had been using AllTrails on my phone to research trails before I came here and the night before. I also had a talk with the camp hosts the night before about trails. The had recommended the Mirror Lake loop and Tom, Dick and Harry Trail. It was only a 10-minute drive from my campsite and was also one of the trails I had bookmarked.

I drove to the trailhead around 11 after the temperature rose a bit. This trail was marked as 9 miles and difficult. The trail started paved and after a mile or so eventually became a very wide well maintained dirt trail that could comfortably accommodate 3 people walking side by side. This trail was a steep incline, but the lack of obstacles made it an easy hike. I continued a l more miles and came to the Mirror Lake and then an intersection that took you to a loop around the lake or continued to the trail to the Tom, Dick and Harry Mountain peak. Decision time, do I take the long way around Mirror Lake now or the way back? This part of the trail was a bit busy so I chose the latter.

I continued onto the Tom, Dick and Harry part of the trail when I met the intersection. This part became more difficult and narrowed to a single person wide trail with a mix of rocks and compact dirt, much different than the smooth surface that had brought me here. The incline of the trail was more noticeable as the rockiness of the trail provided more obstacles

This part of the trail consisted of a series of switch backs as I hiked higher and higher. As I ascended, I ran across areas that were very rocky on the edge of a sharp cliff. I had to pay extra attention to my footing as the rocks dominated the trail and the dirt grounds disappeared. I took a few more breaks than normal as the combination of the steep ascent and the rocky trail became more apparent. This part of the trail reminded me of the trail I took at Sol Doc Valley with its terrain and switch backs.

I turned a corner and approached a summit surrounded by rocks. I saw some people up top and entered climbing mode as opposed to difficult hiking mode. This trail had become exerting, but this was the first part where I was climbing more than hiking. I wondered what the summit had to offer as I approached.

When I reached the top, I was completely stunned. I forgot to mention earlier that it was a perfectly clear day when I started this hike. I had forgotten about this as most of my hike up was thru a dense forest that didn’t offer any but quick views of the sky as I traversed the switch backs.

I was offered the most stunning view of Mt Hood with the clear skies. As I turned my head, I realized it was not only Mt Hood I was offered a view of, it was most every mountain top in a couple hundred radius. I see Mt Adams, Mt Rainier, Mt Helen. I turn my head more and I see Mt Olympus, I saw 7 or so  mountain peaks from here. Simply amazing and awe inspiring. On a clear day this view challenges Hurricane Ridge for its abundance of mountain tops viewable. I got so lucky with this weather. A sky this clear is not a regular occurrence and I was lucky enough to be here today.

I sat here for at least a half hour after taking some pictures in awe of what I was witnessing and taking it all in. After a while I took a look at AllTrails which is my trail map app on my phone and realized I was at the west peak of the Tom, Dick and Harry mountain and I could hike half a mile to the east peak. How could I resist after this view?

I descended down the rocky peak slowly so I didn’t loose my footing. I eventually found the trail east. This was not a trail per say like I had been used to this trip. I was entering a full back country trail that was extremely rocky and was not clearly marked. It was difficult not to lose my way. I felt like a ranger from Lord of the Rings looking for clues to where this actual trail was. Id look for footprints, foliage that had been disturbed or any sign of which was to go. I was not in Kansas anymore; I was doing some real hiking now. No more kids’ games. The rocky terrain was treacherous. At parts of the trail I would need to put my hiking pole down to look for rocks that were sturdy, and then 1 foot at a time to test the balance of the rocky path.

I continued for half a mile and I must admit I had to bring up All Trails a few times to not loose my way. I hesitate to even call the route I was following a trail. This route was definitely the route less traveled.  I only saw 1 person on my way up who was a man I chatted with at the previous peak. I reached my final destination often having difficulty finding my footing and wondering what I had gotten myself into.

I finally reached the east peak and was given the best view of Mt Hood I had all day. However, that was the only view I had at this peak. None of the other mountain tops I had seen early were visible. I see now why this route is not taken much. But I must admit I really liked the challenge and isolation of this route. This was easily the most technical climb I had done yet and now see why this hike was rated hard. I was glad I had spent so many months doing physical therapy and strengthening exercises getting my body ready for this challenge. This will help prepare me for future climbs and give me an idea what my limits are.

I was able to find my way back down the ‘trail’ a little easier than my way up remembering some landmarks I had seen. I made my way down the steep decent as a quicker pace then my hike up. On my way back I talked to a man who was setting up camp to spend the night in front of the crystal clear sky with an amazing view of Mount Hood. Ok, I was super jealous.. if the view of the stars was anything like last night he would be in for a star gazing treat. I got me thinking about buying a lightweight camping setup so I could do in the future.

I approached the intersection of the Mirror Lake loop and figured I should take the longer loop around since I had skipped it earlier. What a great idea to wait until the crowd died down to do this. I now know what this is called Mirror Lake. The water was calm and with the clear sky I saw a reflection matching Mt Hood on top of the lake. This was a really cool sight, and I took some photos and some more GoPro footage to use for later

I finished my downhill hike on the easy walking trails and returned to my campsite to grill some chicken and sit around the heat of the campfire remembering my awesome day. This is actually the first blog post I am writing while enjoying a campfire. Campfires are awesome. I so missed this when I was in Washington. I camped 10 days or so there with no campfires due to the restrictions.

I got up the next morning and started a campfire and am streaming Badger Game as I finish this post. This is tailgating in style!. I am actually liking the 9am game so I can watch and get some more hiking in!

TLDR: Campfires are back. Amazing hike with a view that rivals Hurricane Ridge.

Full Photo Album – https://photos.app.goo.gl/nNrkupR5arrR6c7i7

Highlights

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