It’s been a while since we hiked in our own backyard, which in our case is Mount Hood. One of our favorite trails was up to Cairn Basin on the northeast flank so we thought we’d approach it from a different trailhead, a little further up Lolo Pass, instead of from Top Spur. We arrived at the Mazama Trailhead a little after 11 am on a Wednesday to find only one other car parked.
True to Portland Hiker’s description, the Mazama Trail climbs through a series of steep switchbacks through a talus slope, then continues up and up and up. Soon enough, we were out of breath when we realized we’d been “hiking” way too many miles along Oregon’s gorgeous —and flat— coastal beaches. Luckily, the temperatures were only in the 60s. We took lots of breaks as we counted 14 switchbacks through groves of rhododendrons, huckleberries and hemlocks.
The 2011 Dollar Lake Fire claimed much of this area but what is left behind is still beautiful— acres of silvery white trunks and charred stumps. After about 3 miles, the Mazama Trail joins the Timberline Trail. Here, we encountered a group of four young men carrying a large machete, a machine gun and who knows what else in their unwieldy packs, headed the same way as we were.
After some discussion and another half mile, we decided not to continue all the way to Cairn Basin after all. Young men with guns and all.