|The grand dame herself - Mt.Adams|
Fresh from my South Dakota journey, I was hankering for a hike one of my beloved PNW mountains. The Portland Hikers website posted a trip report on Mt. Adams' Shorthorn Trail. The photos and description were so enticing, I knew I had to pay a visit.
|The trail started in an recent burn area|
Mt. Adams, located across the river in Washington State, is a long drive from Portland. It took me nearly 2 1/2 hours to reach the trailhead. But I woke up early, put in some good music, and in no time was bumping along the rough gravel road near my destination.
|Blackened bark peeling from the trees|
The Shorthorn Trail starts at the Morrison Creek Campground. The entire area, including the campground, was charred in a 2012 wildfire. I noticed the campsites all had new picnic tables, and the bathroom looked like it had been recently installed. But the trees left standing were all gray and dead. It appeared the Forest Service had been cutting down the burned trunks, as there were piles of logs scattered throughout the area. Not a very scenic place to camp, but on the plus side you'd have unlimited firewood!
|Beautiful marshy meadow|
I hit the trail, climbing through the blackened forest. Although the trees were dead, I saw many birds flitting about. I even spotted a pair of woodpeckers combing through the gray trunks. The path climbed, steeply at times, offering occasional tiny glimpses of Mt. Adams through the trees. A carrot to keep me going!
|Happy to see this sign!|
It was a long, nearly viewless three miles. At first I enjoyed checking out the burned trees, all shedding their blackened bark (it was like the trees were all stripping off their clothes!) But aside from that, the only excitement was traversing a vivid green marshy meadow, and then crossing a steep, gravelly stream bed. But soon after this creek, I climbed one last slope, and there before me was the Round the Mountain Trail.
|Amazing Mt. Adams view from Round the Mountain Trail|
It was here I got my first grand view of Mt. Adam's bulky summit. Spectacular!
|One of many creek crossings|
Thankfully, the Round the Mountain Trail is fairly level, with minimal elevation gains and losses. I headed westward on this trail. Mostly above treeline, I was treated to some great panoramic views of the adjacent hills and mountains.
|Vibrant pink monkeyflowers|
I crossed several gushing mountain streams, all originating from melting glaciers. Each crossing offered stunning views of Adams as you looked up toward the rocky banks. A couple creeks were also lined with green vegetation and vivid pink monkeyflowers.
|Every creek crossing had stunning mountain views|
Stream crossings are not my favorite part of hiking. I always get nervous when I have to rock-hop over cold, fast-moving water. But through the years I've discovered the crossings always look much worse than they really are. Such was the case with all the creeks I encountered this day.
|Looking back towards Mt. Hood|
Two miles down Round the Mountain Trail was a path leading to a tiny mountain pond - Lookingglass Lake. The hike recap I'd read described this little lake as incredibly scenic. When the wind wasn't blowing it was supposed to create perfect reflections of Mt. Adams on it's glassy surface.
It took longer than expected to reach the spur trail to Lookingglass Lake. I was starting to think I'd missed the turnoff when I spotted the sign. One more mile! The path dived downhill through a lush meadow. I noticed remnants of a large wildflower bloom. Then I spied bright orange butterflies flitting through the shrived flower petals. It took a few minutes, and a lot of patience, but one friendly butterfly did stop, and lingered long enough to allow a few images.
|I finally spy Lookingglass Lake|
This trail wound steeply downhill, recrossing the same stream multiple times. I began to tire of rock-hopping and started to wade through the water instead (it wasn't very deep). This last mile seemed to take an eternity. More than once I questioned if this was the right trail. But then I spotted a lovely blue-green lake through the forest.
|Green grass brightens the lakeshore|
Ohhh.....was it ever beautiful! Surrounded by lush green grasses, the lake itself was a shining teal color. Although surrounded by ghostly gray dead trees (sadly the forest fire passed this way too) it was still very stunning.
|Perfect mountain reflection!|
Following the shoreline to its opposite end, I was happy to discover that perfect reflection I'd come so far to find.
|Gentians blooming around the lake|
Lucky for me, the winds were calm. The lake's glassy surface gave a perfect mirror image of Mt. Adams, towering high above. The burned out forest, although not as scenic, did open up more views of this mountain.
|Mt. Adams fills the sky|
After taking the obligatory dozens of photos, I sat on a log, ate my lunch, and enjoyed the scenery.
|More great reflections|
I could've lingered at Lookingglass Lake all afternoon. But, after a peaceful hour, I knew it was time to head back. I finished the loop around the lake, following a faint trail until it petered out into a marsh. Not watching where I was going, I ended up stepping into knee-deep water (cleverly hidden by a bed of thick moss). My boots filled with water. Although my feet got wet, the icy cold water felt good on my tired feet. The day was getting warm, and anything cold was most welcome!
|Colorful creek crossing|
I climbed back up until again reuniting with Round the Mountain Trail. Retracing my steps, I crossed back over the same streams. Now that my feet were wet, stream crossings became a snap. I didn't worry about rock hopping, and instead plowed right through the water. One particular stream was lined with rust-colored rocks (must've been some iron minerals in them) and was especially scenic.
|Rock cairns mark crossing points|
A few stream crossings were marked with cute little rock cairns. This one, with it's multicolored rocks, was my favorite.
|Clear, glacial stream|
I enjoyed my trek back on Round the Mountain Trail. Although it ducked back into the forest in a few places, for the most part, I was treated to endless open views, of the surrounding foothills, Mt. Adams, and the adjacent peaks of Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helens.
|Back through the burn zone|
Hitting the last junction, I began the final leg of my journey, down the Shorthorn Trail. Trekking back down through the viewless burned-out forest seemed endless. My feet were hurting, the temps toasty. Dust billowed up from my footsteps. This part wasn't much fun at all. I was never so happy to see the campground and my car.
|A wonderful place!|
I've discovered another magical place on Mt. Adams. Lookingglass Lake is definitely another jewel on Mt. Adams' crown.
Stats for the day: 12 miles, 1800' elevation gain.
Sharing with: Our World Tuesday and Wednesday Around the World.