Mt Hood Timberline Loop

The Timberline Trail makes a 40 mile or so loop around Mt Hood and after 8 years in the area, it was finally time to hike it. Unfortunately the weather did not cooperate. One of our group had planned to do only 2 of the 3 days due to a family obligation and had left a car at Timberline Lodge. After hours of walking in 40-degree rain on day 2, that made for an easy bail for the rest of us and we took advantage of it. Still, we got two mostly cloudy days in.

We started at Cloud Cap Campground, where it was about 40 degrees and sunny

Mt. Hood had gotten a sheen of snow in recent days

This meant that the officially closed Eliot Crossing was right at the start. From Cloud Cap Campground, you hike up the eastern-bound Timberline Trail and take a right at a rock cairn a little ways up to get on the ridge. After hiking a rough but well-defined trail down a ways it gets a little steeper and there is a rope. I didn't feel the need to use it but my hiking partners used it.

Our biggest challenge actually was crossing Eliot Creek, not because the water level was high, but because all the rocks were covered with ice!

We walked up-stream a ways to where the sun was on the rocks and were thus able to chip the ice off with our trekking polls. After walking along a bench on the west side, we got to the climb. This side view gives a better sense of it than pictures looking directly across.

Here are some pics of Betsy and Linda going up

Good views of Mt Hood again, we wouldn't get many more of these

There was still some snow on the trail, even on sunny east facing sections

Farther west, around Elk Cove, we entered the clouds for good. The two ponds further along were fringed with interesting colors

Hours later after more cloudy and windy but dry hiking, we reached the Muddy Fork

There's a mountain up there somewhere

After which we found our campsite. We got a 3 minute sprinkle while setting up our tents

The next morning we crossed a repaired section of the Timberline Trail

Obligatory shot of Ramona Falls

After an easy step across the Sandy River (a little ways upstream of the trail), we entered the canyon of Rushing Water Creek. The light rains started there and rarely let up the rest of the day. As we climbed higher the temps cooled into the low 40s and probably the high 30s. Near the top of that we got a view of the Sandy River Canyon just before we entered the cloud deck ourselves.

From there it was still miles to the Timberline Lodge. The forecast on our phones said the next day would be sunny but it also said that there was only a slight (20%) chance of showers that afternoon. Since it been raining pretty continuously for 5 hours, we were skeptical of the forecast. After getting a bowl of hot soup in us and warming up in the lodge, the prospect of going back out and setting up camp in the cold rain did not compare well with the easy out of the car sitting in the lot. So rather than one person leaving and two finishing the loop, we all left. It did end up being sunny the next day. Oh well, the mountain is still there for a future try at it.