Experience Mount Hood on the Cooper Spur trail

In this first installment of a new series, titled “Get Out,” the adventure gets up-close and personal with Mount Hood, high up on its north face on the Cooper Spur Trail.

Hiking alongside glaciers with the summit of Hood towering above, this trail yields by far one of the best views of the Northwest (other than the view from the summit, of course).

The trail starts at Cloud Cap Inn at about 6,500 feet and ends at 8,514 feet overlooking Eliot and Newton/Clark glaciers, mounts Adams, Rainer and St. Helens to the north, the Oregon desert to the east and Mount Jefferson, the Three Sisters and Broken Top to the south.

The hike itself is a strenuous 3.4-mile climb up the loose rocky moonscape of the Cooper Spur. In early summer, snow fields cover much of the trail, while wildflowers bloom where snow has melted off, making for a unique mix of flowery, snowy, rocky terrain going up and the possibility of a fun and speedy glissade on the way down.

The trail is used by true adventurers as a route up difficult north side summit routes, which can be seen from below as tiny tick marks leading up ridiculously steep sections of the peak.

It also serves as an access point for Eliot Glacier escapades, where people with the right gear and experience can get up-close views of deep crevasses and ice fields that, sadly, have been dramatically shrinking over recent decades.

The trail links up with the Timberline Trail, which circumnavigates the mountain. The round-the-mountain route has been out of commission since 2006 when a landslide at the base of Eliot Glacier washed out a section of trail.

Determined hikers have created their own reroute of the missing link, but the section entails a steep climb up dangerously loose rock.


The trailhead is located at the top of Cooper Spur Road, at Cloud Cap Campground, a couple-hundred yards from the historic Cloud Cap Inn. From the trailhead, hikers can choose a couple of different routes up the mountain.

The Timberline Trail is marked and easy to follow (although it may disappear under snow). Not far from the wilderness area kiosk, a trail leads up to the right, which is an unmaintained trail along the Eliot Glacier moraine. This trail is used to access the glacier and is not the recommended way to the top of the spur.

The weather can change dramatically, very quickly on the mountain, so anyone embarking on this adventure needs to pack accordingly, check weather forecasts and exercise common sense. The trail is also considered very dangerous when thunderstorms are in the area.

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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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