Had it not been for the hunting hillbillies telling us we weren’t welcome at a dispersed camping area outside of Mount Hood, we wouldn’t have spent the next 45 minutes driving in the dark frantically searching for a place to spend the night. I studied a map and finally suggested driving up a random forest service road in search for a secluded dirt turnout. That not only worked out beautifully, but also generated a new method of searching for dispersed camping that we would end up using repeatedly in the near future.
We knew we had a slim chance of summiting Mount Hood, but we wanted confirmation from a ranger. And of course he told us we’d be crazy to climb it at that time due to constant rock and boulder fall at all hours—not only had there been a drought but the climbing season ended in July. The entire Cascade Mountain Range consists of rocks and boulders held together by gravity and snow, and now with the lack of snow, it’s really just gravity keeping it all together.
We didn’t want to spend the last minutes of our lives tumbling down a mountain or being crushed by falling boulders, so we spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing at nearby Lost Lake. Lost Lake was quite the detour from the main highway, but I knew it was the site for postcard-perfect pictures of Mount Hood.
Our goal that evening was to spend the night at the trailhead for Mount Saint Helens, so we bugged out after circling Lost Lake. We picked up fresh, local apples from a fruit stand (yay, apple season!), crossed the bridge over the Columbia River into Washington, and drove along the incredible river into the forest. With just a bit of sunlight left, we made it to the trailhead where plenty of other hikers were planning to spend the night before summiting Mount Saint Helens.