Sunday, October 22, 2006

Hiking on Mount Hood

A few weeks ago my husband and I went to Oregon to visit our son who attends college in Portland. All three of us took a day hike on Mount Hood - our mountain. A pleasant 45-mile drive east-southeast from Portland, the majestic Mount Hood is the tallest mountain in Oregon and the fourth highest peak in the Cascade Mountain Range which runs north to south from British Columbia through Washington and Oregon ending in Northern California.

First some stats and history: Mount Hood is 11,237 feet tall (or 3,426 meters if you prefer). It is a stratovolcano -- that is, a volcano composed of explosively erupted cinders and ash with occasional lava flows. Mount Hood's main cone is about 500,000 years old. Regarding its volcanic history, it has had only four eruptive periods in the last 15,000 years. The most "recent" of those was 250-180 years ago. Though its eruptions have been few and far between, future volcanic activity is not outside the realm of possibility and would endanger the communities on its flank.

We began our hike at the Timberline Lodge, a National Historic Landmark completed in 1938 as a WPA project during the Depression. It is a magnificent structure which speaks to the rugged elegance of the high peaks of the western United States. Poke around the Timberline Lodge website and you will see exactly what I mean.

We began our day riding the ski lift which originates just east of the lodge. This lift, according to Alpenglow Ski History, was built in 1938 and was probably the second chairlift in America, following the one in Sun Valley which was built in 1936. The Mount Hood lift was named the Magic Mile because it originated above treeline and extended for nearly a mile. Fascinating details on its construction are described by Thomas P. Deering, Jr. in his 1986 Master's thesis entitled Mountain Architecture: An Alternative Design Proposal for the Wy'East Day Lodge, Mount Hood Oregon (Master of Architecture Thesis, University of Washington). The lift we took is actually the third incarnation of the Magic Mile chairlift. Like the original, it originates at 5,924 feet and took us up to the small buildings in the middle of the mountain slope, just beneath the glacier. (It's easier to see the buildings if you click on the picture to make it larger.) The elevation of those buildings is 7,015 feet.

At the higher elevation, the glaciers were accessible. My son hiked on the nearest glacier for a bit.

We all hiked upwards from the chairlift. Here is a picture of me and my son at about 7,600 feet with Mount Hood's peak still 4,000 feet above us.

Here is my husband looking at the view from the chairlift.

At about 6000 feet, we hiked the Timberline Trail through wooded areas . . .

and through two glacial canyons - the Sand and the Little Zigzag. Here are my husband and son on their way out of Little Zigzag Canyon. The camera angle makes this canyon looks enormous, but keep in mind its name.

Next we went through an area where shrubs provided beautiful fall colors to contrast with the evergreens.

The enormous expanse of the (big) Zigzag Canyon with its 750 foot drop down to the Zigzag River was breathtaking. We lingered here for some time - soaking in the splendor, eating our apples and trail mix, and taking some pictures. Who could resist?

After the hike we returned tired and hungry to the Timberline Lodge and found ourselves some comfortable sofas with an exquisite mountain view in the Rams Head Bar. We ordered hearty sandwiches with mulled cider and Guinness and remained there gazing out at the snowy peak long after we finished our meal. My son drove us back to the motel where we all fell exhausted into bed, satisfied with our efforts and the time spent together.

(All the photos in this post are mine.)

© 2006, Linda Mason Hood
Truffles, Turtles & Tunes Copyright Statement

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Teacher Man

I just finished reading Teacher Man by Frank McCourt. The book recounts his experiences as a NYC highschool teacher of grammar, literature, and creative writing. McCourt is a grand Irish story teller. Frequently the tales he tells have to do with making an authentic connection with the students in his classroom. He seems to have tried to dig through the well constructed teenage facade to catch a glimpse of the individual person inside.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Sunday: Itchenor

Before diving into my Itchenor post, let me apologize for how long it has taken me to blog my way through London. A 9-day trip has lasted nearly 11 weeks! I guess you might say I got carried away. You would also be correct in assuming that everyday life distracted me many times. Anyway, this posts concludes my London series. Thanks for your patience with my snail's pace. Researching the posts, I learned as much afterwards as I did when I was there. And now, down to business!

The last full day of my London trip was spent in Itchenor, a coastal town on the Chichester Harbor in West Sussex. The name Itchenor is Saxon in origin: Icca was the name of the Saxon chief who resettled the area after the collapse of Roman Britain around 400 AD. Ora is a Saxon word which means "a bank on the shore." Over the years shipbuilding and sailing activity have played a prominent role in the life of this town. The connection to the sea is evident in the naming of the little Norman church, built in 1175 AD, which was dedicated to St. Nicholas, the patron saint of seamen.

The St. Nicholas Church with its adjoining cemetery was the first place Maurene and I stopped on our Sunday morning walk. The vicar and a woman who tends to the church were setting up for the service. They showed us around and generously gave us some postcards and a pamphlet of historical information about the chapel.

The church is quite small – a rectangular building 50 feet long and 16 feet 6 inches wide with no structural division between the nave (where the congregation sits) and the chancel (where the altar stands). Like most ancient buildings, the chapel has undergone many restorations and elements from many eras are visible. The oldest windows, pictured below, are from the 13th century. (Note the vicar, trying to disappear into the wall on the left there.)

The little chapel was very peaceful, lovely in its simplicity. I wish there had been time to stay for the service, but it was a beautiful day and we needed to keep to our schedule. As the St. Nicholas Church receded into the background, we communed with God and nature as we made our way down the road toward the Chichester Harbor.

Maurene took a shortcut down this walled path…

which opened up onto the majestic harbor view!!

Just up from the marina sits the picturesque pub below, The Ship Inn. According to one internet site I read, it is the only pub in Itchenor.

On our way back to our hostess’s house, we walked through a nature preserve.

Betty, our hostess, had a swimming pool, and after walking all morning Maurene and I were happy to join her for a dip in the pool. The mischievious Sindy did not join us.

Betty served us a nice lunch before we went back to the Chichester train station to catch the London train.

My last night was a nostalgic remembrance of the my first two nights in London. Maurene and I walked around the St. Katherine’s Dock area near the Dickens Inn and looked at the Queen’s swans.

Then we went to an Indian restaurant for dinner. I spent the night with Maurene and her Abyssinian cat named Peri.

The conclusion of my London blog series would not be complete without a special thank-you to Maurene. She waited patiently when I got lost on the tube and was late. She had cash on hand when my British currency ran out. (We settled up at the end of the week.) She gave good directions and suggestions and had boundless energy and enthusiasm. She suggested the weekend in Chichester. She was the perfect traveling companion. She made it possible for me to turn a business trip into a simultaneous vacation. So, thank you, Maurene. I hope someday we can have more travel adventures together – soon!

(P.S. All the photos in this post are mine.)

© 2006, Linda Mason Hood
Truffles, Turtles & Tunes Copyright Statement