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Elk Meadows

Sunday, January 08, 2012
This weekend I went snowshoeing with my adventure buddy and a friend of his up on Mt. Hood to Elk Meadows. Well, the plan was to go snowshoeing; it ended up being a lot of hiking while carrying the snowshoes because there just isn't that much snow out there! With a base of between 37" and 43", there's a lot of bare ground, especially when climbing up the hills. Having so little snow at this point in the season makes me worry.

Still, we had fun. It would have been more fun had, when trying to jump across a stream, I actually made it across. In this case, with my snowshoes tied to my pack (which weighed 30-40 lbs!) I tried to follow in the footsteps of my companions and, despite every fiber of my being telling me what a bad idea it was, I jumped after them. Thank goodness they were there to catch me; my food landed and immediately slipped out from underneath me. After slamming my face into the icy snow, they grabbed my arms before I could land in the water and hoisted me up. That part, I'll admit, wasn't so fun. My face hurt from the fresh scratches and it spoiled my attitude for a while.

The view of Mt. Hood from Elk Meadows

After falling on my face, we had a couple more streams to cross, then we headed up the hill. We gained probably 700 or so feet of elevation in less than a mile; it was steeper than it sounds. Also, there's really only one way up that we could find; the face of the hill is so steep that the switchbacked trail is the only way to the top that doesn't end in a cliff face. Of course, as I mentioned, there was no snow on that path, so we ended up hiking most of it. My attitude wasn't improving at all during that; I like snowshoeing and I like hiking, but I like doing just one or the other, not constantly having to switch between them.

Once at the top, however, we were in a respectable amount of snow and my mood improved considerably as we headed toward the meadow. It didn't take us long to get there at all and, once we did, we were treated to a fantastic view of Mt. Hood while we ate lunch.

The view of Mt. Hood from Elk Meadows

After that, it was a quick trip down with a more successful hop over a couple streams. All told, we did about 5.7 miles, thought it was more challenging than it sounds due to the nature of the elevation climb (it happened all at once), the fact that we had to hike some of it, and the extra weight I was carrying in my pack. Fun? Yes. However, I'm not sure that, given the condition of the stream crossings, I'd want to do it again.

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