Right off the 26, past Government camp, in the Mount Hood Recreational Area is a set of lakes that are both beautiful and accessible year round. We did not know this going in, and thought that maybe we could find some solitude during our first snowshoeing session. While we found a gorgeous hike leading to a frozen lake and an incoming storm, solitude we did not find.
Twin Lakes is a relatively flat 7 mile hike to a couple of lakes that hang out near Mount Hood. In the winter they can freeze, but the altitude doesn’t make this a guarantee- More on that later.
When we pulled into the Frog Lake Sno-Park we were immediately dismayed as the lot was almost full. Our fear was that “our escape from Portland and be alone in nature” plan was going to turn into a “excuse me, pardon, trying to get through Club Twin Lakes packed with people” plan. However, we found out there was a dog sled race happening that day, which is where the cars came from.
Heading the opposite way, towards Twin Lakes, we certainly weren’t alone, but it wasn’t anywhere near as crowded as we feared.
The path was clearly marked with little blue diamonds and packed down pretty solid, but we decided to snowshoe it just to be safe. The snow pack was at least 4 feet as Geoff’s trekking pole slipped off the snow pack and sunk up to the handle at one point. The snowshoes turned out to be a great investment, and probably saved at least one of us from a cold, wet experience.
The trees alone were worth the hike. The diversity in the forest is something that always blows us both away, and this hike was no different.
Once we got to the first lake we sat down to eat a snack. Geoff pulled out his Clif Bar, unwrapped it and turned away for a second. There was a slight feathery sound, and when he turned around again his Clif Bar was half gone. Looking around, it wasn’t in the snow, and he didn’t eat it. What happened?
Dava then pulled one out of her bag, and immediately these little gray birds started swooping around her trying to steal whatever it was she had in her hand. Brave little guys! We did what we could to not feed them, but they were fast and came out of nowhere. It was cool and scary and Hitchcockian.
Once we were hydrated and snacked, we walked out onto the frozen lake where what looked like many other people had already walked.
We made it about 50 feet in until we came across a human sized hole in the lake. Poking at the ice with our poles a bit we found that the lake was NOT completely frozen and was quite slushy. I made sure no one was in that hole and then we backed out carefully. This is a serious lesson for us- Just because there’s snow on the lake doesn’t mean it’s frozen!
It was getting late, and the weather started taking a turn for the worse, so we packed it in, packed it up and headed back. It always seems to me that the trip back is faster, and has a subtle sadness to it. The adventure is coming to a close, and the time away is coming to an end. The best things in life leave you wanting more, and that’s what makes adventuring so amazing.
On the drive back down the mountain we got stuck in brutal ski traffic and decided to detour to the Timberline Lodge for dinner. This was a great choice, as we hiked a bit up the mountain and grabbed some night shots of our buddy, Mount Hood.