Saturday, October 25, 2014

Mt. Hood Backpacking Trip

Josh has had his heart set on having a family backpacking trip for a long time.  He's taken a couple trips with the older kids, but never with all of us together.  The stars managed to align with school, work and General Conference to give us a warm-weather weekend free from our usual obligations.  I was a little bummed about it falling on my birthday weekend.  Being dirty and away from my bed, going potty in the woods, plus traveling in the car with my kids don't rank up there on my birthday celebration wish-list.  But, I know we can always count on Josh (the Boy Scout that he is) to Be Prepared in every way for this adventure, and to make it the most pleasant experience he could!  He scouted out a manageable hike, proper equipment, delicious meals, a timetable, and an extra helping of patience (I think that's the most important item to pack)!

We hit the road on Thursday afternoon and spent the night in Kennewick, WA.  On the way there, we visited this awesome market called Country Mercantile, filled with fine Northwestern gourmet foods, made from the delicious produce that grows so well in the temperate WA climate.  Homemade ice cream, salsas, chips, candy, cider...  It was really amazing!  Boo said quietly and completely sincerely while walking through the chocolates, "I think this place is Chocolate Heaven."

Josh put the kids to bed, allowing me to attend a session at the Columbia River Temple.  It was beautiful, peaceful, and they had quite possibly the most gorgeous Celestial Room Chandelier I've ever seen!  I still daydream about it.

The next day we spent the morning doing a little shopping and making sure gear was packed and that we had everything we needed.  We ate a big breakfast, and made the drive to Mt. Hood, Oregon.  I was a little nervous of the threat of bears for some reason.  I was picturing us blazing our own trail in some dense, secluded side of a mountain, and having a run-in with a bear.  Nightmares of trying to outwit a bear with my children screaming and terrified had me completely distracted and apprehensive.  When we arrived to the trailhead and some 50-year-old women were unloading their small dogs and water bottles, along with their walking-sticks, my mind was set at ease!  I realized this is a well-used day hiking trail.  The beautiful, clear weather drew a lot of locals out for a day-hike, and there were lots of friendly dogs to greet, and happy people enjoying the rare sunshine.  The view of Mt. Hood was gorgeous!  The big kids had to carry a pack, and we just hoped Diddles would cooperate and not fall in the creek or wander off the edge of the trail! There was a considerable amount of whining by Boo, but that was expected.  :)
Mt Hood

Starting out at the trailhead!
The Elk Meadows Trailhead begins at Hood River Meadows and a 5.3 mile hike with 1200 ft elevation gain lands you at Elk Meadows.  We crossed several streams and then had a challenge going up the switchbacks.   Josh carried Diddles for much of the climb, and Boo had a tough time. Phrases of "I can't go any further."  "I hate this worse than the bike ride!" and "My legs aren't going to work anymore," were uttered most of the way.  When we reached the top, we met a couple coming the opposite direction who told us about a beautiful campsite right on the meadow, which was our destination!  After some snacks, we had the energy and boost to morale, knowing we were almost there!

The campsite didn't disappoint, and once we took our heavy packs off, everyone felt a little lighter.  The meadow was gorgeous!

The Meadow - look at that beautiful view!

Our campsite had many downed trees, and several large logs that created nice surfaces on which to sit, cook and eat.  We made a small fire, but the wood was so wet, it was pretty smokey!  Our dinner was pretty good, even though we were all so hungry, I'm pretty sure anything would have been good!  Josh brought some Mountain Home dinners:  Teriyaki Chicken, Chicken Alfredo and Beef and Broccoli with a raspberry crumble and hot chocolate for dessert!  He sure works hard on these trips, and did so much work helping us, and making us comfortable!

Sticks, staffs, swords...lots of fun

We were pretty tired from the long day, and it started getting cold quickly after the sun went down, so we tucked into our sleeping bags for a restless night. I wasn't cold (40's), and I think I was on the most comfortable air mattress, but I never sleep well camping.  EVER.  It makes for a rough morning when you've got to break camp and hike back down.

She loved sleeping in a tent!

The next morning after breakfast, I took the kids on a little walk around the meadow while Josh broke camp.  We were SO loud, and I didn't realize we weren't alone.  A couple were camped about a three-minute walk from us.  I didn't realize until we walked right past their site.  I'm sure they weren't planning on waking up at 7am to whooping and hollering children.  We tried to be really quiet on our return, and I avoided eye contact with the tired woman gripping her coffee mug.  So sorry!  

My favorite picture!  
 There was more excitement hiking back down, with lightened packs and the promise of a hotel pool and a hot shower beckoned us!  Boo set the pace on the downhill so we could "get this over with, and get to the pool".  We had fun finding a family set of gun-shaped sticks, and finding the best spot to cross the creek.  Again, glad Josh is so strong - he had to carry Diddles much of the way.

We stayed at the same hotel before in Hood River, OR.  After a nice, hot shower for me, and a swim in the pool for the kids, we were all ready for an early dinner! A fire-grilled Pizza place called Solstice is a spot we've hit before.  We forgot from last time that the service is pretty slow, so you're chewing on table legs by the time your food comes!  Josh particularly loves the pizza and orders the most adventurous combos on the menu:  Solstice (hot coppa, fire-roasted jalapenos pineapple chutney, mozzarella).  I ordered the Country Girl Cherry (cherries, chorizo sausage, goat cheese, mozzarella, marinara)

Waiting for dinner.  Don't worry, Josh's bottle is a root beer.  :)
 The next day was Sunday.  Josh snuck out in the night and got me some flowers, a balloon and a card, along with a coconut cream pie for my birthday (so sweet!)  We ate breakfast out on the hotel restaurant deck, overlooking the Columbia River.  I had a delicious granola with greek yogurt and honey.  It's so good!  The kids had French Toast and hot chocolate.  We watched the morning session of conference and then headed back home!

1 comment:

Liz said...

We want to do this as a family! What beautiful views! Your kids will have such good memories.