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|John, our fearless leader!|
My ex-coworker and good friend John is an avid hiker. Almost every week, he gets together a group of people for a trek on one of the numerous trails around Portland. John has been a volunteer with the Mazamas, a local mountain climbing education club, for many years. He knows a lot of folks in the hiking/mountain climbing community, and always gathers the nicest and most interesting people for his hikes.
|Our group sets off through the forest|
Between marathon training and vacations, I haven't hiked with John for awhile. I kept getting hiking invite emails, and then receiving the photos after his trips. Since John is retired, he has the luxury of mid-week hikes (and tortures me at work sending photos from these outings!)
|Group photo against a blue sky|
Last Friday was a day off of work. Lately it's been all rain and gray skies around here, especially when it coincides with a weekend day. But - miraculously - the forecast called for clear skies and NO RAIN! John sent an email invite to hike on Friday and I happily accepted.
|Wonderful Hood view|
John chose a trail along McIntyre Ridge, a lovely wooded spine in the Mt. Hood National Forest, near the town of Sandy. It follows a ridgeline until a junction with the Douglas Trail, which takes one to the overgrown summit of an old lookout site at Wildcat Mountain.
|Great place for a break|
There are many ways to access this trail. John chose to drive down an ancient forest service road until its end at a rocky turn around. The parking area was littered with debris and spent shotgun shells. I was a little nervous about leaving my car here!
|This viewpoint came complete with a bench|
It was hunting season, so everyone in the hiking party outfitted themselves with some sort of orange clothing item. I still had my vest from my hunter encounter in Indian Heaven, and put it to use once again.
|Even Bear was checking out the mountain|
Our party numbered ten people and one dog - John's largest group yet this year! The dry weather was definitely a factor in recruiting so many sun-starved hikers.
|My pup and I|
We started off through the forest, beginning with a short bushwack up a jeep track until reaching the intersection with the McIntyre Ridge trail. I then tagged after the long trail of hikers, climbing through lovely green forest, thick with fir, hemlock and rhododendrons. The sky was clear and blue, the temperatures warm.
|Back into the forest|
After walking through a meadow thick with beargrass plants, the trail came upon a clearing, showcasing a drop-dead gorgeous view of Mt. Hood. Someone had constructed a sturdy bench here, and it was a perfect place to enjoy the scenery.
|We reach Wildcat Mountain's summit|
Everyone took a break here. Some used the opportunity to have a snack. Some had a seat on the bench for a quick rest. But others, (like me!) whipped out cameras to capture the view. I had just as much fun taking people photos - lately most of my hikes have been solo. So nice to share this trail with a group of nice people.
|Hood peeps through the trees|
And nice people they were! I knew everyone in the group, except one, and I quickly became acquainted with George, a newcomer to "John's Hiking Club." Marching along the trail provided lots of opportunities to chat with everyone. It was nice to catch up with folks I hadn't seen in months.
|Good spot for lunch|
The group ended up at Wildcat Mountain's rhody-choked summit. We all pulled up a rock and chowed down our lunches. I had my usual PB&J, but Steve went gourmet for his lunch choice. He packed smoked salmon, crackers and cream cheese. Steve's such a nice guy, he even shared with his companions.
|The lunchtime crowd|
A gap in the trees, provided peek-a-boo glimpses of Mt. Hood, but overgrown trees prevented unobstructed views.
|Steve brings smoked salmon|
Our bellies full, everyone packed up for the trip back to the trailhead. As we headed towards the clearing, I noticed the sky clouding up. Arriving at the bench, Hood was now partially cloaked in clouds.
|A "guys photo"|
With vanishing views, John and I took some fun group shots instead. We got some "boy's photos" of all the guys lined up. Some of the men even struck their most masculine poses for me!
Then the group followed McIntyre Ridge back down the ridgeline. Although there wasn't much for fall colors here, I did find some lovely golden ferns to photograph. And a few yellow leaves appeared intermittently in the woods. Nearing the trailhead, light rain began to fall.
|A little fall color|
We arrived back at our cars to sounds of gunshots. Someone was target practicing near our vehicles. The group didn't waste any time packing and getting the heck out of there! As I drove back to Portland, the rain became heavier. Talk about good timing, we missed the downpour.
Another great day in the outdoors! And the company was exceptional. Although I don't mind hiking solo, it's so much more fun sharing the experience with others.
Stats for the day: 7 miles round-trip, 1200 feet elevation gain.
John - hope I get to join you again real soon! :)
Linking to: Share Your Cup Thursday and This or That Thursday.