Since last fall I haven’t been able to get outdoors very much as we’d been on the housing search. I feel incredibly fortunate to have been able to buy a home here, but with that said the home buying process for us was a horror show I’m not keen to repeat anytime soon. That’s all settled now (thankfully) and I can plan some trips again.
Our plan was to take the Tilly Jane trail up to Cooper Spur and try to camp near the shelter depending on the conditions for an overnight. When we arrived, the trail was a solid sheet of ice.
As we ascended, it warmed up and we slowly started to encounter spots of bare trail and eventually snow again as we got up as high as the Tilly Jane A-frame. We brought snowshoes and quite honestly, didn’t need them. Everything was ice or boot packed and I wore my Hillsound trail crampons for 95% of our entire hike. The short 4 miles or so uphill were difficult, I’ve gotten really out of shape! The spikes were admittedly a “just in case” item that I ended up using nearly the entire trip.
From Cloud Cap Campground, we ascended up a ridge just west of Cooper Spur following a skier trail up to around 6300′. There was no wind whatsoever and we setup camp in a nice flat spot with a view to the north across the Hood River Valley and into southern WA. Elliot Glacier and Mt Hood were right behind us in full view.
As soon as we turned in for the night the wind started howling and didn’t let up. It was a warm wind and it felt well above freezing. The winds were so bad our pyramid shelter was failing, so at 1am we had to build a snow wall around 3 of the edges. That was a game changer and sealed us in from the wind quite nicely. Close to dawn however, we discovered that the warm winds melted the snow walls by around 80% and all the wind was coming in again.
We got some nice shots in spite of the winds, packed up and headed down to Cloud Cap to make coffee. Even more of the trail was melted out on the way down, there were puddles, mud, and much less snow. These were basically mid-spring conditions in a normal year. As we descended back into the clouds, the temp dropped and we ran into icy trail once again.
Definitely a good trip and a little kick in the ass to get back into shape again. Its really too bad the conditions are what they are this winter. Its too warm and we just aren’t getting enough snow. The upcoming forecast promises significant snowfall and I hope it holds, maybe I can even squeeze in another over-nighter before the month is out.