Here's one from TDH on New Years Eve, definitely the last bad decision I made in 2015. A month had passed since and I had initially wanted to write an entry for it but got carried away by a bunch of stuff and life got in the way. Anyway since I am on a long flight now and I have some time to spare after watching this cycling movie (To The Fore) that a friend recommended, which turned out pretty good.. Here we go and bear with me, its gonna be long.
I have been to TDH Mountain (Tom Dick and Harry Mountain) a good number of times that I am pretty familiar with the route up. On this particular day, forecast was partially cloudy and would have been a good day to attempt the hike. Woke up at 2am and was supposed to meet up with Rami, Justin and Lance to head over to West Skibowl to start the hike. Alarm went off and checked my messages.. Justin bailed. Great. We continued as planned, drove towards Skibowl West, got a couple glimpse of Mount Hood looking extremely awesome throughout the drive and started the 5mile hike at about 4.30am. Weather forecast was still looking great, parked at Skibowl as the trailhead was closed and added probably another half mile or so to the hike.
The initial part of the hike to Mirror Lake was pretty easy, basically tons of footprints and no need for snowshoes. After mirror lake, we usually take the route towards the back and finally to the top of TDH. However, as we hiked a little more, I realized the usual route was not there anymore. I found this open area and decided that we could just ascend from the front instead. I had also heard a couple days ago that the trail up to the top has changed recently and thus initially thought it was a good idea. The climb became really steep and really deep fast and we put on our snowshoes and pushed on. Wind speed started to pick up, clouds started moving in and it started to snow or might have been just snow that got blew from the ground back into the air. Since we could kinda see the endpoint, we kept going in the brutal thigh deep snow all the way to the top and made it in record time! 6.45am way earlier than predicted, wasn't a good idea as it meant a longer wait in the cold. The mountain is now all covered in clouds/fog and we waited at a lower point among the trees as its ridiculously windy and cold up top. I ran up a couple times to check if things started to clear. Nope no luck and it's not surprising, I have been up there a bunch of times and probably only saw Mount Hood from TDH once or twice and there would always been a piece of cloud overhanging the top of Mount Hood. Then sunrise went by... Well it never happened or at least we never saw it happen and we were all packed (since technically we never unpacked) and all ready to go and I decided to head up one last time to check and lo and behold I saw the mountain through the cloud clearing, shouted for the Rami and Lance, while I fumbled with my own gear. When I managed to get my gear out, the clouds rolled in again. haha fml.
We packed and followed our initial snowshoes track to head back down and maybe a 100 feet down, we saw the mountain in between the trees. Lance stayed while Rami and I raced back up to the top. Stayed up top in that ridiculous wind, so strong I had to stay seated down and I had initially thought Iceland's wind was bad.. Eventually I got this photo handheld, you can probably see the wind blowing the snow really hard in the foreground trees. I started making my way down and I realized, Lance and Rami were gone. I see a fork on the snowshoes trail, and I took the right trail and later realize it leads to an open space with no trail which I still think it was the path we took up and the thigh trail was just all covered and erased in snow. I panicked and backtracked and took the left trail instead and started shouting their names. I found them maybe 30 mins later and realized they have been walking in circles as well. We started trying different trails that ascend and descend and eventually still brought us back to the same place. Extremely tired and demoralizing...
Eventually Rami decided that he wanted to try finding the usual trail we would take to get up from Mirror Lake and try to take that path down. which also means we got to snowshoe all the way back up the mountain before descending again. As we were going back up, I found a bar of service and called up Chelsea to let her know to get help if she doesn't hear from us in 2 hours as our phones are basically all dying from the cold. Also told Justin we were kinda lost. :D After some descending in the direction I think we should be going, I found a trail (kinda) and was extremely glad. Messaged Chelsea and Justin that we are back on track on our way down. Another 10 mins in, hey we are back on the same path we were before and I was extremely extremely demoralized by then. %#@$. We then decided to just go ahead bushwhacking and making a new trail towards the direction of Mirror Lake. We got to a big clearing which eventually lead to a cliff and I was like erm we should turn back, we gonna fall off that cliff. We went back to the open clearing, super exhausted, dug out three snow holes and sat in it and took a rest. I was kinda sweaty from the hike and stopping was definitely a bad idea as I would start shivering real fast. I found a spot with cell service but my phone was dead. Kept my phone in my gloves in an attempt to warm it up to revive it while Lance tried to called search and rescue with his limited battery life. Whenever I could revive my phone, I will take a picture of Mount Hood and a couple images of my surroundings with some description and send it to Justin. He has an extremely excellent sense of the area around Mount Hood and would roughly know where we were at which helps.
Rami was cold and went into the forest to get some shelter. Maybe 15 mins in, I heard some voices from above but I couldn't see anyone. Shouted back but I wondered if anyone really heard me. Maybe I wasn't loud enough or maybe I was just hearing voices haha (for the record Rami heard those voices too). After waiting a little longer, I felt a little cold and thought we should keep moving as it was going to get dark soon and I don't plan on staying there overnight. Lance was getting intermittent messages from Search and Rescue (SAR) and they asked stuff like..
- SAR: "are you lost?"
- SAR: "are you on the trail?"
- I guess not? if I was, I won't be lost?
- SAR: "call back in an hour."
- my phone has like 1% left… huh? really?
So we kinda slide down that extremely steep area and continued traveling in the direction I believed where Mirror Lake was at. Crossed multiple creeks and continued to push on. Lance then got another ping..
- SAR:"can you hear the sirens?"
- SAR: "keep walking.."
We later found out that the car was basically just by the freeway waiting. Rami kept walking and at this bend, we saw people above us. Awesomeee… Hikers that were making their way back from Mirror Lake. Rami shouted and asked if they could wait for us so we could head back on the trail. We basically had walked past Mirror Lake from a lower elevation and had missed it. One of them, Brett, came down and gave us some water, lifesaver! What a relief when we found the trail. *Humming Capital Cities' Safe + Sound* Probably another mile or so to go as we made our way down with Brett and his friends. When we made it out to the trailhead, there was a police officer waiting in the car, I believe that was the siren he was talking about. Anyway, glad to be safe. Crawled back to Lance's car and headed back, what an exciting day. :D Got frost nips from all my fingers which all became blisters after... and had awesome and WARM hotpot after at Brandon and Ting's place... Lesson learnt, buy a GPS... :P