A Cool Vista Ridge Morning


The Pinnacle, 5226 ft

Just a few days ago I headed up to the Mazama trailhead on the north side of Mount Hood, with the intent of camping on the way to Barrett Spur. Late into the afternoon, the temperature was 90 degrees at the trailhead and I sweated through my sunscreen before I got my gear ready. Not looking forward to heat stress from the steep climb through the baking slopes of the ridge, I changed those plans.  So it was with delight that I arrived to the (very crowded) Vista Ridge trailhead Sunday morning in a cloud, mist condensing on my windshield and a temperature reading of 50 degrees.

I was in a fine mist until passing the Wilderness board and the junction heading off to Owl Point. The early morning sun cut across layers of clouds as I ascended through the remains of forest destroyed by the 2011 Dollar Lake fire, the canopy-less forest of silver, debarked, standing dead trees carpeted by a vibrant undergrowth of berries and wildflowers.


As I followed the ridgeline north, I played a game with the flocks of Pine Siskins where they would pose magnificently on stalks of Fireweed mere feet away and then flit away before I could get my camera ready. Even so I managed to capture some looks at them, along with the ever present Juncos, and even some flocks of scraggly Mountain Bluebirds. Looking east across the expanse of land burned by the Dollar Lake fire, The Pinnacle juts prominently up as a landmark.


Pine Siskin


Dark-eyed Junco


Mountain Bluebird

After crossing into forest spared from the fires, a layering of clouds settled around as I neared the Timberline Junction. Avalanche Lilies still bloomed through here, flowering later than the grand expanse that bloom throughout the burned forest lower down the ridge, and earlier in spring after the snow recedes.


Clouds cleared above the Timberline Trail, and remained high for most of the rest of the day as I explored glacier moraines in the area. Warm afternoon light cut across Vista Ridge from the west when I returned hours later, climbing up from Eden Park, the air temperatures still a pleasant 60 degrees.