If you can’t take the heat… get out of the city

Sunday saw record-high temperatures, beautiful blue skies, and my first hike since breaking my ankle! My friend Paul (author of The Guide) was in town, and seeing as he’s both an exceptionally experienced hiker/backpacker and understanding of what it means to be recovering from serious injury, I asked for his recommendation on a hike in the area that would be somewhat challenging but not too bad. After a bit of back and forth, we settled on Tom Dick and Harry Mountain, out in the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness. I had heard much about this hike, but had never been. Time to redress that insult to my local Oregon wildlands!

We set out from Portland around 7:30, and got to the trailhead at 8:30. The limited parking was already almost full, and the day was already quite warm. We strapped on our various braces – both of us now have dodgy ankles – and set off.

The first mile and a half or so, to the loop around Mirror Lake, is not hard. The trail is

1 - Mirror Lake
Mt. Hood and Mirror Lake

well-maintained and very cushiony, with only one section where protruding rocks require attention to footing. (Another friend retwisted her ankle, coming back down from TD&H Mtn, in this spot. I was determined not to do the same!) When we got to the lake, we headed around the west side, along the boardwalk. The marsh around was full of flowers – including my new-favorite flower for fun name, the Dodecatheon hendersonii – and BUGS. Lots of bugs. So while it was nice to see the view of Mt. Hood across Mirror Lake, we didn’t linger.

Instead, we joined back up with the trail up TD&H. Truthfully, it’s just not that hard a trail. There were one or two sections where it was rocky enough that I stepped very carefully, and in warm, very humid weather with no breeze it was a bit stifling. Overall, though… well, at one point I actually asked Paul, “um, when does it get steep?” The answer: never, not really. It gets steeper and rockier as you near the top of TD&H, but not too much so at any point.

The views – and breeze – at the top were spectacular. (We only went as far as the top of the first of the three little peaks, since to get to the other two involves going over a lot of very rocky terrain.)

The view from the top. Mountains (L to R): St. Helens, Rainier, Adams, Hood, Jefferson

Mt. Hood loomed large, with Zigzag Canyon facing us and Palmer visible around to the right. But what really staggered me was that we could see four other mountains – Adams, St. Helens, Jefferson, and Rainier. I’ve never had that experience before, never been to one of the lookout points along the Cascades where you can spin in a circle and see hundreds of miles, see the Cascade Volcanic Arc stretching away in both directions. It was glorious!

3 - Me and Hood
Enjoying the view

The hike down started out frustrating – because I had to keep such a slow pace, being hyper-careful about how I placed my feet in the rocky/steep(er) part – and finished achey, as my ankles finally started to really complain about being made to walk nearly six and a half miles over uneven terrain. Fortunately, the parking area at the trailhead is bounded by a rushing, damncoldbecausesnowmelt stream; dipping my feet and ankles in that stream for even just a few seconds was plenty close enough to icing them for my tastes!

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