:: :: Geoff's Travel Home :: 2003 :: Best-Of Photography

Mt. Hood from Elk Cove

In 2003, Lenka and I took several days off to traverse the Timberline Trail 360 circuit around Mt. Hood. The hike was a great experience, that allowed us to feel the massiveness of Hood like never before.  

Lupine and Hood

We started off with heavy packs, filled with food for the entire 5 day trip. We left with much depleted packs, and many pounds lighter. Both of us experience incredible weight loss and body fat loss.

The picture to the right is what we looked like after we took the quick jaunt up Top Spur to get to the Timberline Trail at the beginning. 

Lenka Model Shot

Luckily, we were able to hit the mountain as the wildflowers were just past peaking. It was a non-stop photo opportunity -- but with many miles allocated for each day, it was hard to control the desire to take snapshots around each beautiful corner. Good thing we brought the heft Pojar plant guide -- a heavy task when multiplying its weight ammortorized against each step over the 41 miles around the mountain. 

Fields Getting Ready for the View
The hefty Wildflower Guide Hood and Flowers, #29
Helens to Adams
Sunset on Hood

One of the real treats of the trip was to have several nights in a row to experience sunset on Mt. Hood. When the glow of the sunset rolls quickly across with alpenglow over Mt. Hood's peak, my body relaxes and the body naturally basks in the crispness of the moment. The glow usually lasts only minutes, but it permeates the senses given the size of the volcanic peak in the landscape. It is one of the sublime treats of nature that can be easily accessed, but never captured in imagery to the same extent.  

Scroll right -----> Move from Mt. Hood in alpen glow -----> To Sunset -----> To Helens, Rainer and Adams sharing the glow of the end of another day
Helens, Rainer, and Adams in Sunset Silhouette Hood's Strength
Micro and Macro

Of all frustrations, our film developer lost three of our rolls of film from the trip. Luckily, we had a few gems make it through.

With the 40+ mile hike to traverse the entire 360 degree circuit around Hood at timberline, the shear size of Mt. Hood really was impressed upon us. When you are looking at Hood, especially when on it via one of the many hikes, you have a natural tendency to look at the mountain and think that you are seeing half of it in front of you, with the opposite half on the other side. Reality is, however, that you see only a small (20%) of the mountain at any time, due to the strong ridgelines that fall from its peak.

In honor of this newly emphasized massiveness of the mountain, we took a lot of panoramic images for later reconstruction on the PC. This includes the one to the left and the 360 below. The latter is from a viewpoint normally accessed from the East Zig Zag hike. It shows a full 360 view of Mt. Hood, Mt. Jefferson, Mt. St. Helens, and (I think) Mt. Rainer. 

East Zig Zag 360
Trails through Meadows Ah, the sore feet in glacier streams!

We were stupid enough to attempt the hike with zero training. We actually had very few hikes that summer, and hit the trail cold. Let there be no doubt, it was a body-numbing bone-crenching spirit-exhausting pilgrimage. 

East Zig Zag View
Scouting ahead for the other side River Crossing
Tiring Triumph!

The trail deviated some 5? thousand feet between its lowest and highest points over the entire 40 miles length. The real killer, however, were the large canyons that required large repeated hikes up and down. Much of the trail was crossing over these ridgelines, with usually two very large drainages to cross each day. There were two good [as in, demanding] river fordings in the southeast side that required extra caution and navigation. To the left is one such valley that lenka dubbed "the valley of death" from a hike the year before. This year it was just another big, desolate glacier-fed valley inside Hood's rain shadow. 

Volcanic Proof

After years of hiking to Hood's meadows, I realized that I never really ventured on the mountain's east and southeast sides. It was starkly evident why after rounding the corner into Hood's natural rain shadow. All meadows, flowers, and trees disappeared and we were reminded of the starkness and destruction inherent to the volcano that we were on, as witness by the large image above. Note the small moon rising above it, on the left (No, it's not a smudge).  

Hunkering down with nature

It was on this southeast side we found ourselves tapped out, stressed to get more miles under our feet, the sun going down and a fierce, and a bitter and cold alpine wind tossing our daily consciousness clean to the core of simply determination to keep moving under nothing but stark resoluteness. As night got too far advanced, we were forced to camp for the night before hitting the shelter of tree line. We had to set our tent on the one scrub of brush we could find, which ironically was near the highest altitude for the entire circuit. The night was spent with only our bodies barely holding the tent down in the unfailing alpine wind. It was the mental high/low point of the hike, and a good portion of the reason to take hikes like this. 

Nature's Triumph to Herself: The Alpine Lupine
Getting back to treeline

One phenomenon that I have always envied from those who have watched the sunrise/set on the peak of hood is the chance to glimpse the shadow of the volcanic peak extending out into the valley and plains way below, all the way to the horizon. Its something amazing to stand at a point and see your shadow extend from you to the horizon and even into the sky.

That night when we hit the roughest low, we also glimpsed a similar shadow, producing a great high to witness the phenomenon. Amidst the struggle and determination, we first saw the line extending from the peak to our right all the way down to distant desert high plains below, like a giant natural gondola that can be slid along from glacier to desert sand. The contrast between the environments mirrored the contrast in the magnitude of the two visual moments before us: the sublime extending beauty along this razor shadiw and the stark survivalist existentialism of life in the bitter wind and desolution under our feet. These contrasts emphasized my personal beliefs on the nature of living life to the fullest. When you can feel the highs and the lows in the same breaths, in the same moments of living, that is when you are living life to the fullest. 

We left Mt. Hood lighter with freedom and weight, but heavier with the depth of the experience.  


(c) Geoffrey Peters and Lenka J.,, 2003. For more information regarding this web page, please contact
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