Sunday, February 5, 2023

Sunny Day on Mt. Hood

Winter sunrises on Mt. Hood are the best.  The mountain is draped in her best winter white, the sky often has interesting clouds, and the sun doesn't rise until well after 7 o'clock, so one doesn't have to get up quite as early.  After capturing a nice sunrise last January, I decided it was time for another try.  So I diligently searched the forecasts for a clear morning.  Finally, spying a promising weather day, I set my alarm for a pre-dawn wake up.

Mt Hood before sunrise

It's always tough for me to rise early, but the hope of a colorful sky motivated me out of bed and on the road.  On this day, I arrived at Timberline Lodge with plenty of time to hike up the groomed climber's trail for a closer vantage.  Thinking I wouldn't need traction on a packed trail, I stupidly left my snowshoes in the car.  But getting to a good viewpoint required some off-trail post-holing through a foot of fresh powder.  Those snowshoes would've come in handy!

Brightening sky to the south

After arriving at my desired viewpoint, I then waited impatiently in the cold for the sun to make it's appearance.  The sky to the south and east began to turn colors first, so I pointed my camera in that direction.  There's always a great view of Mt. Jefferson and the Three Sisters on the southern skyline.


Finally the sun broke above the horizon.  Mt. Hood lit up in lovely pink alpenglow.  I had to work fast, as this hue was fleeting.  I captured several frames of the rose-colored mountain before it began to fade.

Not sure what this building was but it made a good photo subject

After the sunrise show was over, I slowly began the trek back down the groomed snowcat track to my car.  The early morning light was so good, I couldn't resist capturing few more images of nearby sights.  I spotted a small, round building nearby.  I didn't know what the building was used for, but the light on it was so good, I took a bunch of photos anyway.

First tracks

As a walked back down the snowcat track, I was mesmerized by the beautiful view to the south.  There was a single ski track down the groomed track, and I thought it made a good image.  We skiers live for first tracks!

Vintage snowcat outside of Timberline Lodge

Timberline ski area has an army of snowcats that groom the ski runs.  When not in use, the snowcats are parked outside of Timberline Lodge.  In addition to the modern machines, there's also a vintage Tucker snowcat sitting in the lot.  I don't think it's ever used - the snowcat seems to function as a photo op.  Which is what I did - walking around the little orange 'cat documenting it from all angles.

Mt Hood and White River

Sunrise now successfully captured, the morning was still early.  But I didn't drive all the way up to the mountain just to turn around and head home.  It was time to find a nearby trail.  So I headed over to White River Snopark, one of my favorite winter playgrounds.

White River Canyon views

The White River Canyon is a popular place for winter recreation.  There's a nearby sledding hill for families.  Trails take skiers and snowshoers deeper into the canyon.  I could see remnants of the past weekend snowplay, as evidenced by the many snowmen of all sizes near the parking lot.

Heavily used snowshoe track

But I was here to hike up the canyon.  Strapping on my snowshoes, I set out, following a well-trod path through the snow.  The sun shone brightly upon the forest, the glare off the white snow forcing me to don sunglasses.

This poor little tree was struggling to stay above the snow

But after enduring days of rainy, gray skies this solar energy was most welcome.  Mt. Hood's white peak stood prominently against the clear blue sky.  The snowy forest sparkled in the sunlight.  What a wonderful day to be outside!

Wonderful views

I hiked about a mile and a half up the canyon.  After climbing the steep sledding hill, the path veered through a thick forest with occasional views of the mountain.  At 1.5 miles, the forest cleared and I was treated to an amazing view of Mt. Hood and the surrounding foothills.

Lunchtime break

A perfect place for a break!  I eased myself onto the snow and enjoyed a snack of hot tea, ginger cookies, and a cliff bar.  I watched two snowshoers try to navigate the extremely steep slope up nearby Boy Scout Ridge.  They got about halfway before conditions got too dicey - the snow was sliding out from underneath them - so the couple turned around and gingerly made their way back down.

Ripples on the snow surface

No steep slope climbing for me!  Break finished, I began to retrace my steps through the woods.  I contemplated slogging down to the river valley, but there didn't appear to be a good access point.  Then I met up with a man on snowshoes.  He pointed me to a gentle path down from the bluff that followed White River back to the parking area.  I followed the man's tracks down the embankment and after sliding down the last small dropoff, arrived at river level.

Snow-covered trees

It was fun to walk in the wide-open river valley.  Views stretched back to Mt. Hood in one direction, and towards the forested foothills in the other.  Although the snow was marred by many ski and snowshoe tracks, it was still a pretty scene.  White River wound through the valley, it's waters visible through the snow.  Although the river water wasn't frozen, most of the rocks had an icy coating, and there were plenty of icicles on the sides.

White River's icy banks

I arrived back at my car tired from my trek, but rejuvenated by all the beauty.  I'm glad I made the effort to get up early, not only to witness sunrise on Mt. Hood, but also to take a side trip through a lovely winter wonderland.


  1. ...gorgeous, I've been there several times in the summer and there was still snow by the lodge.

  2. All I can say is wow and kudos to your determination and patience to get these beautiful shots.

    Mersad Donko Photography

  3. What lovely photos! You picked a pretty morning to go!

  4. Oh this looks so dreamy! That photo of the snow covered trees is lovely with the shadows and the patterns in the wind swept snow. Being an early bird on this day got you a priceless experience!

  5. Oh my goodness, how could one not love Mt Hood? A spectacular, magical day!

  6. What a wonderful trail to snowshoe, Linda. Your photos are all beautiful.
    Do you ever worry about avalanches? They seems to happen often in Colorado after heavy snowfall.

  7. Thanks for the awesome photos of Mt. Hood. I really miss the mountains in the Pacific Northwest. I'll be up to visit my sister from Feb. 28 to March 6. I don't have snowshoes, but I'd love to hike with you if we can find a time.


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