Quite a lot has been going on recently that has restricted me to a few shorter hikes at weekends. Seems like business travel has really picked up a little so I’ve been spending some time on planes. One of the benefits of the last 2 years is that I have not had to travel at all. Both a benefit for me and the family and an easier time to get onto the trails. Having said that it’s hard to beat the view of mountains from 30’000 feet, especially when they are ones that you have climbed! Mount Adams looked spectacular and just a month or so earlier we made an effort to make it to the summit and there was not a lick of snow. So last weekend I made another break up to Mount Hood for a quick hike up ZigZag mountain.
The second reason hiking has been a bit limited is that I’ve been doing a little bit of home remodeling. All good stuff and slowly keeping me closer to Mount Hood but it’s also been taking some time away from the trail.
So far this fall has been very mild. The snow level has varied and not stayed consistent at all. It’s dropped to around 5000’ to leave a dusting of snow on the top of ZigZag Mountain and Hunchback Ridge, but then it’s also risen as high as 12000’ and the snow has vanished. What looked at times like a promising start to the ski season quickly evaporated to the point where the Timberline Trail was passable in many places.
However, there has been a good deal of rain and the rivers around Mount Hood have been raging. I can see the difference in the Sandy and ZigZag rivers around Welches so I imagine crossings are getting quite risky.
With that said, I’ve still been able to get out and about for some day hikes. I’ve been exploring more around ZigZag Mountain – and while the snow levels stay relatively high this seems like a good option for a few more weeks. Last weekend Hunter and I headed up the ZigZag trial. Hiking in Oregon in fall can sometimes just be surreal and magical. The dampness in the air can hang on the moss and limbs, while the fall sun streaks through the trees.
The ZigZag trail starts off of Forest Road 19. There is a small amount of parking at the trailhead and a few more spots along the road. The trail quickly passes a standard permit box. Being later in the year, permits are no longer required. The trail quickly turns into maybe half a dozen switchbacks, before following a ridgeline for a short while. Then another set of switchbacks maybe a dozen. The whole time the trail is shrouded in trees.
Eventually, a couple of openings in the trees give a view of Hunchback Ridge, but these are just snapshots. And still no view of Hood. In places, the trail passes along some fairly narrow ridges with long drop-offs on each side. After four miles of climbing, I was still a little ways from West ZigZag Lookout. The trees still clung around me and I had not made it far enough for a view of Mount Hood. Unfortunately, this was about the time I had to turn around – this would make about an 8-mile hike. Returning was of course super easy – 3000’ descent back to the trailhead.
Although not the most spectacular views – I really enjoy getting out into the wooded forest. My next goal around ZigZag mountain will be the West ZigZag Mountain Hike. This is an 11.2 mile trip with a little of a road walk in between.