On a particularly dreary day in December a few years back, I set out on a trek through a mild sprinkling of rain with my old high school adventuring buddy, Patrick. We had arrived at an abandoned logging road that, according to several internet sources, was the trailhead. We had been hoping that the weather would clear up, but despite our best efforts at telling the clouds to depart, the misty drizzle continued unabated and the clouds sank even lower into the Columbia River Gorge.
The trail started out as all mountainous hiking paths do, with a series of switchbacks, extreme elevation gains, and sparse level ground.
The trail ran along part of the Pacific Crest Trail, that 2,500 mile long trail that stretches from Mexico to Canada.
As we continued to climb up, we began to see rays of sunshine drifting through the thinning cloud layer.
By 3 pm, we climbed out of the forest, and were met by a phenomenal sight. Like pure cotton rising from the earth, the vast cloud layer now lay below us.
After ascending the precarious scree field, we thought that we had reached the summit…but alas, we had only come to a false summit and still had a ways to go.
Eventually, after about a mile of straight uphill climbing, our painful lungs required us to take a breather and gaze upon the beauty that lay below us. We could barely see the cloud-covered false summit hiding in the depths as the winds picked up and flung the clouds by at remarkable speeds.
In the distance, Mt. Hood looked upon us from the Oregon side of the gorge with his fresh carpet of snow.
We continued along a meandering path that led to a rocky ledge.
In the far distance, we could make out the snow covered mountains of Mt. Adams to our northeast, Mt. Ranier and the North Cascades to our far north, and that old flatulent volcano of Mt. St. Helens to our northwest.
We turned our attention back to the basalt cliffs below us and, mesmerized, wished we could jump off into the clouds.
With the sun beginning to set, we decided to depart from this magical place.
After leaving the rocky outcropping, we carefully picked our way along the trail and, in a mad dash to beat the ever-hastening evening shadows, we half-ran, half-tumbled the four miles back down to the trailhead. We made it home in time for dinner.
Adventure awaits. So go out and explore!