A spectacular view at Hood River Mountain

Swatting away blackberry bushes and other overgrown bushes I could only wonder if I had picked the right trail when I decided to hike Hood River Mountain. I couldn’t see anything other than crowding bushes and trees, which thankfully were shielding me from the wind roaring past overhead.

I was just hoping that at some point it would be worth the effort.

The answer: Yes. Yes, yes and yes again.

As I approached the end of the 600 feet in elevation gain and near the top, the blackberries gave way to fragrant lilac bushes, and glimpses of sunlight through the canopy.

Then you hit the summit and the only possible word is WOW.

The canopy of trees shielding you from whipping wind is gone, but so is the brush obscuring your view.

And it is an amazing view.

The entire Hood River Valley opens up before you, and you can see from the Columbia clear to Mount Hood.

On the river you can see tiny wakes being kicked up across the waves — kiteboarders and windsurfers dancing over the water.

To the west you can see the Cascade foothills poking through the mist; to the north Mount Adams and in front of you, the roofs of agricultural buildings glinting in the sunlight and a dark green carpet of fields.

It’s simply magnificent. Rolling out like a welcome mat for Mount Hood are purple wildflowers that dot the summit of Hood River Mountain and the ridge that extends from it.

I lingered at the top for awhile, relaxing as much as I could when I was not occupied with running after my hat, which was repeatedly blown off my head.

After reaching the top, you have two options: You can either go back the way you came up, or you can continue along the ridge which heads to the south.

The ridge will eventually take you down a gravel access road for vehicles coming up to service the microwave antennae on the ridge. It does present a brief view of the river and the eastern Washington side. It does also present an interesting contrast, as you seem to be entering the eastern half of the state more and more with each step.

The gravel path eventually links up with Elder Road, which takes you back to the trail head, and unless you want to hike back down a road, I recommend just coming back down the way you came in.

However, if you want to bike the trail, I recommend riding up Elder Road, and then riding down the trail from there.

The trail is too narrow on some of the uphill portions to safely ride, and you would have to walk the bike up; and on the narrow trail, that may not be too fun.

However you decide to go up the Hood River Mountain trail, the view at the top is completely worth the three mile round trip hike, and one you will not soon forget.

Getting there: From Hood River, go south on Highway 35. Take a left at Eastside drive and then another left on The Old Dalles Drive. Follow the road for about two miles. Just before the road turns into Elder Road on a sharp south turn. The trail head on is on the right, and there is room for three or so cars at the trail head.

There is no cost for using the trail.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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