Mirror Lake

I decided to hike up to Mirror Lake yesterday, and possibly continue on to Tom, Dick, and Harry Mountain. When I got to the trailhead about 11:20, the parking area was pretty full with cars! On a Friday morning! (I later encountered a big organized hiking group that probably accounted for about half those cars.)

The trail was, as always, a pleasant walk. The rhododendrons are just starting to bloom. They’re going to look really great in a few weeks. And although it seems a bit early for beargrass, there were a few who didn’t get the memo and were already starting to bloom.

The lake was beautiful, but buggy. Oh, the bugs were bad! I scarfed down my lunch, eating more than a few bugs, I’m sure, then threw on my mosquito head net. The clouds had mostly burned off and the remaining snow on Mt. Hood practically glowed in the sunshine. For a time the lake was still enough to reflect the mountain, but a group of guys on the other shore had set up for the day to fish and they also had an inflatable raft, so all their activity kept disturbing the lake surface.

I hiked a short ways up the Tom, Dick, and Harry trail, but just far enough to get that great view of Mt. Hood from the rock slide area. I decided that there were probably too many clouds on the horizon to make the climb up to the top worthwhile. I didn’t think I’d be able to see any mountains other than Hood and Jefferson. Besides, I’d like to save that hike for a few weeks from now when the wildflowers bust out.

All in all, a beautiful day up there. I encountered no snow at all on or off the trail, and the snow on the mountain looks like it’s melting fast. Let the hiking begin!

That beautiful reflection of Mt. Hood in Mirror Lake, complete with guys fishing

Why it's called Mirror Lake

Paintbrush was starting to bloom along the trail between Mirror Lake and TDH Mountain

Spiky

A great view of Mt. Hood from the trail up to TDH Mountain

Glowing

Anyone know about this? This trail was heading up the hill from the top leg of the zig-zag, just a few minutes before reaching the lake. I’d guess that if this keeps going, it’d intersect with the trail up to Tom, Dick, and Harry. I’ve never noticed it before, and it looks “built” not just a trail created by tramping through the woods.
Unmarked trail

Here’s another mysterious path, what looks like an old road through the woods. This is just off the trail towards the bottom of the hill, just a little ways above the spot where the trail zig-zags twice across that rock slide.
I wonder where this goes

One of the more ambitious rhododendrons. They’ll all be blooming like crazy in a few weeks!
Rhodies

Dog Mountain kicked my butt

We hiked the Dog Mountain trail today, hitting the trail nice and early at 8:45 to avoid the crowds and the heat. I haven’t done this one since I was a grumpy teenager, forced to do the trail by my parents on a really hot Memorial Day. The hike was brutal and hot and I ended up with heat exhaustion. I had such negative memories of that day that I swore I’d never go near Dog Mountain again. Well, I’ve been forced to eat my words, because the motivation of all those wildflowers was too much to resist and I hiked the trail today. The wildflowers were worth it, but man!…. that trail kicked my butt just as hard as it did the first time. We made it to the top in 2.5 hours, and made it back down in 2, probably faster than I should have pushed myself. By the end, I was just about out of water, and once again suffering from heat exhaustion. But the flowers were worth it!

The wildflowers are just past their peak and beginning to fade. Also, the trail is super dusty since it hasn’t rained in awhile. You all know this hike, so I won’t go into further details. But one thing I’ll mention that I haven’t seen mentioned anywhere else is that it’s already starting to get buggy up there. The last 15 minutes of forest hiking before emerging onto the open slopes (on the Dog Mountain Trail, not the Augspurger Trail) I was swarmed with bugs. They were most not mosquitos, but I have a few itchy spots this evening so some of them were biting. And I wish I’d had my head net to keep them out of my face! Fortunately, on the windy open slopes the bugs weren’t a problem there.

You can see the yellow carpet of summit wildflowers at the first viewpoint, there are so many of them!

Wildflowers all over

Right after emerging onto the open summit slopes from the forest.

Balsamroot everywhere!

Yellow balsamroot as far as the eye can see.
Egging me on

Mt. St. Helens in the distance with Balsamroot lining the trail to the summit.
A view to beat all views

The Balsamroot may be past its peak, but there are still lots of other wildflowers blooming, including Paintbrush.
Vivid red

Steep slopes of wildflowers above the Augspurger Trail.
Can't get enough of this