Of course not!
|This way to the lookout!|
Nope - if you're me, you simply find a shady trail high on Mt. Hood. And bonus points if you can convince two friends to join you.
That's why me, and my buddies John and Young rose early one hot June morning for a quick trudge up to the Devils Peak Lookout via the Cool Creek Trail. Although a hefty climb of 3200 feet in 4.5 miles, the trail wound through thick woods. I hoped this shady forest would be enough to ward off the sun's blazing rays.
It had been a few years since I'd visited this trail. But the memories of slogging up a steep incline came roaring back from step one. This hike is no joke. The relentless climbing started right from the trailhead.
|Pretty in pink|
My friends and I slogged through the thick forest, puffing and sweating. In the first quarter mile, both Young and I had already shed our long sleeve shirts. Then, Young zipped off her pant legs. Barely eight o'clock in the morning and things were already heating up.
|Thick forest means lots of shade|
From previous trips, I knew rhododenrons bloomed thick and furious in these woods. I kept hoping we'd find a bit of pink beauty for our cameras.
|Roots from a huge fir tree|
And - boy did we! After climbing the first mile with nothing much to see, the rhodie show began in a big way.
The forest was full of tall rhodie bushes - all sporting huge pink blossoms.
|Lots to photograph|
Poor John - all forward progress ground to a screeching halt, as Young and I grabbed for our cameras. He joked that Young and I were so alike in our photography interests that we must've been secret sisters separated at birth.
Oh yeah - the rhodie show was as grand as I remembered. The colorful blooms brightened up the dense, green forest. It made our steep uphill slog so much nicer.
|A few blowdowns to scramble under|
As we trekked towards the top, my friends and I encountered a few blowdown trees across the trail. Always a challenge to traverse, we climbed over some, hiked around others, and once and a great while, had to do the limbo and crawl under.
As we neared the top, a few other wildflowers added color to the forest. These bright purple phlox were a welcome surprise.
|Devils Peak Lookout|
Boy, the climbing seemed to go on forever! Young and I, hot and sweaty, slowly inched upward. I kept thinking the summit couldn't be much further....but then we'd see the trail leading up another steep grade. The last mile was truly the longest I'd hiked in a long time.
|Finding a shady lunch spot|
But happily we finally leveled out onto an old road. A short side trail led to the summit and it's famous fire lookout tower. I was never so happy to see it!
|Can you spot Mt. Jefferson?|
But first things first. Before any tower exploration, my friends and I needed some rest and refueling. Time for lunch! John found a nice shady spot on a nearby ridge. We relaxed and took in marvelous views of the adjacent hills and mountains.
|Front row Mt. Hood view|
Mt. Hood put on the best show of all. Our lunch spot provided a fine in-your-face view of my favorite mountain.
|Back to the lookout|
After a nice break, Young and I climbed back up the rocky ridge to check out Devils Peak Lookout Tower.
The tower has been decommissioned for some time. Now maintained by volunteers it's open for overnight stays, first come first serve.
|Young explores the tower|
Young and I peeked inside. The tower is fully furnished with a bed, stove, and bookshelf. Over the years, people have left various items for other visitors. We spotted a lantern, lots of propane canisters, bottles of drinking water, a good selection of books, maps, and even two sleeping bags! Best of all there's a killer view of Mt. Hood from the tower's front door.
|I even got John in a photo!|
From the front porch, I shot copious photos of surrounding scenery. Then Young posed at the railing, so I snuck John into the frame too (he hates being in photos, tee-hee).
|Soaking in the view|
After spending a quality hour high on Devils Peak, the promise of a cold beer lured us back down. It was noon, and temps were soaring, so we welcomed the downhill trip through a cool forested trail. Despite the shade, it was still a hot trek. We encountered at least a dozen hikers struggling uphill in the heat. My friends and I were very thankful for the early start and doubly glad we weren't climbing right now.
|Classic mountain and rhodie pic|
A frosty beer tastes even better after climbing a mountain in blazing hot temperatures. My friends and I agreed we'd definitely earned it today!
Despite the heat, it was good to be outside enjoying the amazing Pacific NW.
Sharing with: Through My Lens