Mirror Lake is a moderate hike of 3.8 mile out and back hike to a beautiful lake with reflections of Mt. Hood. This picture was taken at the summit of Ton, Dick and Harry which will add an additional 5.2 miles onto your out and back however, it is worth the extra miles.
There’s something about setting out early morning for a hike. Taking to the highway towards Mt. Hood, through Sandy, Oregon, and it’s slower pace into the mountains is incredibly appealing. We arrived at the trail head, two brothers and my dad.
Hitting the trail, beginning a paved path we weaved back and forth until finding ourselves deeper in the trees. Crossing a wooden bridge the cement and gravel faded into bark mulch. Now, the hike had begun.
Along the trail we hear birds chirp, and see squirrels weave through the trees, and the sun bleeds through the canopies. Topics emerged, a conversation developed recounting old hikes and memories we revisited nostalgically. Laughing to ourselves and discussing the progression of the world, finance, economy, these things tend to emerge when we’re together.
Before long we exit the trees and there it was: Mirror Lake. The water with few ripples, something stagnant and untampered with until the steady stream of hikers hit this highly frequented trail. The Lake was ours for a moment.
We had much further to go. The shot my dad came for was intended to be made at the top. With the valley there to the right, the narrow trail straight ahead. Branches hung at our heads and sword ferns and small assorted flowers at our feet. The tree roots formed stairs like some jungle-gym.
We reached the top. Mt. Hood ahead of us on the other side of the valley and Mirror Lake below. A couple from Humboldt County, California who were alone at the top with their two boxers. We exchanged conversations about the differences in precipitation and the greenery of Northern California compared to Oregon. Most are pretty friendly out there on the trail. They took off, “nice to meet you, take care.” What I love about being in nature is there are no socioeconomic issues, everyone is equal amongst Gods incredible creations.
We sat down and ate PB & J’s my pops prepared with Hawaiian sweet rolls. Here we were eating nectarines and sipping on a water bottle passed one to another when the chipmunks crept in. I found them entertaining and the experience something spiritual: in escaping the city, these “wild chipmunks” came asking for food. Seriously, the furry little guys sat down in front of us like dogs begging for a treat. May as well have stuck their little hands out.
There were no clouds in the sky and my dad was nervous about how the photos would come out as overcast skies are more enticing to those viewing the final photographs. This didn’t keep him from firing the shutter off.
My brother and I knew that once the tripod as out we’d better make our selves at home. We found some rocks to take a nap. As Ansel Adams says, there were photographs “to be made.”
My dad went off to find himself a creative angle to capture the mountains and the lake below. Hikers found their way to the top taking selfies and claimed their rock to snack and grab lunch. They caught their breath occasionally breaking social walls and engaging in some cross-talk and casual banter.
“Is that mount Rainer or Adams or Jefferson?” The questions almost all the adults seemed to ask at the top. My brother and I thought “they’re rocks, and that’s a mountain along with the others”, us humans giving names to things.
I slept on a rock with my brother, gracious to share such a thing. Hours later my face was burnt. But hell, what a nap. We woke up laughing as my dad snapped a photo of us brothers laying there together. I opened my eyes, “what’s up, pops? Did you get the photo?” A man there with his new fiance laughed as he mentioned his concern: an older guy with a camera snapping pictures of young men asleep on a rock, “I was worried that they didn't know you.” We all laughed at the situation that would have been odd if we weren’t related.
With the climb and a few hours on top of the plateau feeding chipmunks nectarine pits, sunburnt, we headed down. We encountered many hikers greeting most. The lake now being used by a family who had paused to swim around.
At a comfortable returning pace we dream't of cheeseburgers, my dad threw out “Let’s get some Calamity Janes, I heard those burgers are huge.” That was enough convincing for me. With the car found, and our minds on burgers we made our way back towards Portland. At cruising speed, state troopers pulling people over hoping it wasn’t our unlucky day.
My dad was right about the burgers, they were huge. Two-thirds of a pound ground beef, classic toppings, a pile of fries served in cast-iron skillets. Nice touch. Captain America on the T.V. above and a Mr. Pibb. What a way to wrap up our adventure. We got the photos.