If you're okay with that, then read on......
|Obligatory trail sign photo|
When my friend John sent out his weekly hiking invitation, the destination was Burnt Lake and East Zig Zag Mountain. A lovely little trail on Mt. Hood's west side, it had been a couple years since I'd been there. The flowers on East Zig Zag are usually good this time of year, and Burnt Lake is known for it's picture-perfect reflections of Mt. Hood. Okay John, count me in!
|Beautiful Burnt Lake|
Sunday morning found Bear and I at the trailhead with John and four of his friends. Although the weatherman promised a hot day, we began in the cool shade of thick woods. Our trail followed the top of a bank, with Burnt Lake Creek gurgling down below. After two miles through this lovely forest, the trail made a turn by a small waterfall and climbed for another mile. We passed huge Douglas Fir and Cedar trees, and lots of old burned-out stumps from an ancient fire (that gave Burnt Lake its name).
|Perfect Mt. Hood reflection on Burnt Lake|
Then our group arrived at the lake. Oh, Burnt lake is such a lovely place! Circled by huckleberry bushes and tall Douglas Firs, it makes a peaceful lunch or camping spot.
But the best thing about Burnt Lake is its amazing view of Mt. Hood. John led his hiking troupe around to the west end of the lake to the perfect vantage point.
|One more reflection shot!|
The calm morning waters gave a perfect reflection of Mt. Hood. Super-duper photo op!
|Heading up the steep trail to East Zig Zag Mountain|
After gazing across the lake upon our favorite mountain, and enjoying a quick snack, it was time to shoulder our backpacks for the climb up to East Zig Zag Mountain. Not only did this trail climb quite steeply to our destination, parts of it also followed an exposed ridgeline. No shade anymore! And we quickly found out the midday sun was getting hot.
|Burnt Lake, far below|
But - oh the views! From a saddle just below East Zig Zag's summit was a jaw-dropping view of Mt. Hood with tiny Burnt Lake at its base. Wow, we really did do some climbing.
|Still a few tiger lilies|
The final climb to East Zig Zag was hot. Not so fun for poor Bear. His tongue was hanging out as far as it would go, and he was panting heavily. But after lots of sweat and effort my dog and I arrived on the rocky summit.
|Lunch with a view|
It was a glorious place for lunch! Mt. Hood was front and center. Some flowers were blooming (although not as many as usual - the bloom was early this year). And far away in the distance we could glimpse Mt. Jefferson to the south, and Mt. Adams and St. Helens to the north.
|These purple flowers formed a circular pattern|
I gave Bear a big drink of water and some dog food, and scarfed down my own sandwich (with some assistance from my pup). Then it was time to pick up that camera and capture some scenery!
|Bear rests in the shade|
Bear was content to wait for me in the shade.
Our lunch spot was peaceful and idyllic. Flowers swayed in the breeze. A few butterflies flitted around (but never landed long enough for a photo). Mt. Hood and it's glaciers glittered in the sun. And best of all, we had the summit to ourselves the entire time.
|Me, the guys, and Mt. Hood|
But all good lunches must come to and end, and when other hiking parties started to arrive, we knew it was time to go.
|Heading back down the trail|
After sweating up to the summit, it was great to have an easy downhill cruise back to Burnt Lake. But I made the guys stop at the saddle for some group photos. Mt. Hood made the perfect backdrop.
|One last glimpse of the mountain|
Returning to the lake, we found it full of people. Many of them were splashing in the water. The lake surface was chopped up from the swimmers, so no reflection photos this time (good thing I got them in the morning before the place got busy). Being very hot and sweaty by then, jumping in that cool water looked like a great idea.
But my party was ready to get back, so after letting Bear have a good drink, we headed for the trailhead. We didn't get very far before John and I got distracted by some pretty yellow monkey flowers blooming near a spring.
|John checks out a huge burned-out tree|
By the time we reached the final two mile portion of the trail, everyone was hot and tired, and just wanted to be done. Bear, instead of bounding up and down the trail, marched slowly between John and I. Virginia, one of our hiking party, said that this last bit of trail seemed to be a victim of the "trail stretchers" - when a trail that you galloped over in the morning, seems to go on forever on your return trip.
That was certainly the case. Those were the longest two miles I think I have ever hiked. Trying hard not to ask John (who had a gps) how much further, a half mile from the parking area, I finally broke down and uttered the words "Are we there yet?"
|Afternoon light on the leaves|
Finally, our vehicles came into view. Everyone agreed to head to the local convenience store for some ice-cold drinks. A good reward after a hot hike.
But for me, the wonderful views, good workout, and great companionship were the better reward.
Stats for the day: 9.6 miles, 2400 feet elevation gain.
Linking to: Tuesday Muse and Sweet Shot Tuesday.