Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Paradise Park Hike

Two weekends ago, I took advantage of the cooler weather and hiked up to Paradise Park, high on Mt. Hood. I'd hiked to this area once before, taking the trail west from Timberline Lodge. But a friend had told me of another trail, Paradise Park Trail No. 778, which was longer, but shaded. And it didn't have the two mile uphill at the end of the hike, as the trail from Timberline Lodge does! So, always eager to try something new, I decided this would be my route.

I packed up Bear in my car, and took off early Sunday morning. The weather was cloudy, but nice and cool - perfect for hiking. I accessed the trail off of Hwy 26 from Kiwanas Camp Rd. There is a very nice primitive campground at the trailhead, beside a picturesque rushing stream. As I started up the trail, I noticed the vegetation was covered in heavy dew. The dew on these lupine leaves sparkled like small diamonds. The trail was uphill and long! It was six long miles until I hit the Pacific Crest Trail. The trail was well graded and went through some nice woods, but there wasn't very many views, and after six miles, I was ready for something interesting to look at!

I soon got my wish. After crossing the PCT, I began to see flowers. The flowers got more numerous, until I finally came upon a large field of lupine. The lupine appeared to be at its peak, and it was stunning!

This is the cutest doggy photo you will ever see! I love Bear's expression. It is so him!

After about a half mile or so, I came upon the junction of the Paradise Loop trail. I had arrived at Paradise Park! And this "Paradise Loop" trail sign is so true!

I followed the Paradise Loop trail though lovely fields of flowers. There were lupine, paintbrush, cat's ear, old man of the mountain, and others I couldn't identify. This is definitely a good flower year up on Hood.

With so much of nature's beauty, it took me a long time to hike the next mile. I took lots and lots of photos! The flower fields were outstanding!

We crossed a small creek flowing with glacial meltwater, and Bear paused for a drink.

I stopped for lunch at a campsite next to the remains of an old stone shelter. There was only a remnant of one of the shelter walls that was left. It made me sad to think this shelter had fallen into ruin. I ate lunch, and then propped my camera on an adjacent stump for an attempt at some self-portraits. Bear decided to wander in the way of the camera lens at the last moment!

On the way back, I tried out my "L" lens for some flower close-ups. I have always loved paintbrush, and there were some good specimens out there on this day.

The red paintbrush was so numerous, it looked like large red dots from afar. I caught Bear just as he licked his nose in this shot.

The old man of the mountain flowers are really cool. They look like something out of a Dr. Seuss book (remember the truffula trees in "The Lorax?") Some people think these plants look like hippies.

One more shot of the paintbrush - just because it was so stunning that day!

After being in clouds most of the day, the mountain began to come out. As I began my descent down the long trail, I got one good view of Mt. Hood. This is the south side of Hood and Zigzag Canyon. Even though I had 6 long downhill miles before me, I was glad I didn't have to cross that canyon on my return trip. I can handle 6 miles at the end of the hike, especially if they are all downhill!

I made it back to my car with a tired dog, and a camera full of photos. Total mileage that day - about 14 or so. Total elevation gain - about 2900 feet. Time spent up on my favorite mountain - priceless.

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