If you’ve spent time involved in activities in nature, like hiking or boating, you know how the “same” nature experience can be so different from one day to the next and even from one minute to the next.
The wind shifts, a storm front passes through, the day goes from sunlight to dusk to darkness. All of those changes affect your experience.
Changes of nature happened during my two days of hiking at Mt. Hood, about 20 miles from Portland, Oregon.
Zigzag Trail in the fog and mist
The first day was foggy with light rain. We started at Timberline Lodge and hike along the Pacific Coast Trail. Our goal was to reach the Zigzag Overlook.
Because of the fog, Mt. Hood wasn’t visible at all. The dense fog and wind closed the Magic Mile, the aerial ski lift from Timberline Lodge to the lower section of the mountain.
We hiked through the forest and through sloping meadows. Wildflowers were along the trail.
As we continued hiking and the fog grew thicker, we realized it was unlikely that we would see the Zigzag River at Zigzag Overlook. The river is fed by the Zigzag Glacier at Mount Hood.
As we neared the overlook, my hiking companion said, “I’d like to see the river if just for a moment.”
And when we reached the overlook, the clouds magically opened, providing a view of the river, which we could hear roaring in the canyon below.
Before I could get my camera out, the clouds closed.
Mountaineer Trail in blue skies and wind
By the next day, the storm had passed. The sky was bright blue with large clouds blowing through the sky.
While we hiked, sometimes Mt. Hood was fully visible. Sometimes the mountain top was partially hidden by clouds. Sometimes the mountain top disappeared completely in the clouds.
We hiked the Mountaineer Trail, with a very steep mile of the trail paralleling the Magic Mile ski lift.
We were glad to have our hiking sticks for the climb. Depending on the wind and the sun, we added or took off layers of clothing.
When you see Mt. Hood from the distance, the top is rounded. But when you climb to the ski area, you see that the top is level, not rounded. Mt. Hood is a volcano, with its last eruption in 1907. The mountainside is covered with lava rocks.
Hiking the Mountaineer Trail was a combination of hiking across a moonscape of lava rocks and trekking along a glacier. The hike was beautiful but cold and very windy, even on a sunny July day.
Both days were great for hiking – but each in a different way.