Friday, March 6, 2015

Mt. Hood: Mazama Ridge and McNeil Point

Mt. Hood
I haven't done much writing about the Pacific Northwest, but since I'm moving to Portland in September I figured I might as well get a start.

Mazama Ridge is one of the more popular routes up the north side of Mt. Hood, the tallest mountain in Oregon and one of the only places in the state where skiing is offered year round. It is one of the Cascade Mountains, the ring of volcanos that stretch from Lassen in California into British Columbia. Mt. Hood is the most accessible of these volcanos, being so close to Portland, and as a result is also one of the most dangerous, seeing several fatalities every year.

I visited in mid-august, the time of year when the flowers begin to bloom and the weather is most pleasant. The timberline here is about 5500 feet, any higher above that the snow becomes too deep and stays too long to allow trees to grow. The warming climate means that snow is melting sooner and the snowpack is smaller, boding ill for the glaciers and rivers in the future. Anyway, the trail from Mazama ridge is very steep, and it is also one of the most popular routes to McNeil Point, one of the finest viewpoints on this part of the mountain. Lots of flowers were blooming, avalanche lily, old man of the mountain, lupine, and indian paintbrush were abundant. Weather was perfect and the clarity of the air was surprising, considering a massive wildfire was burning near Bend at the time we were up the mountain.