On Mount Hood: A Biography of Oregon's Perilous Peak
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On Mount Hood is a contemporary, first-person narrative biography of Oregon's greatest mountain, featuring stories full of adventure and tragedy, history and geology, people and places, trivia and lore. The mountain itself helps create the notorious Oregon rains and deep alpine snows, and paved the way for snowboarding in the mid 1980s. Its forests provide some of the purest drinking water in the world, and its snowy peak captures the attention of the nation almost every time it wreaks fatal havoc on climbers seeking the summit. On Mount Hood builds a compelling story of a legendary mountain and its impact on the people who live in its shadow, and includes interviews with a forest activist, a volcanologist, and a para-rescue jumper. Jon Bell has been writing from his home base in Oregon since the late 1990s. His work has appeared in Backpacker, The Oregonian, The Rowing News, Oregon Coast, and many other publications. He lives in Lake Oswego, OR.
all based on sheer size, Portland. HARD TO BELIEVE that the primary source of drinking water for more than 860,000 Oregonians—more than 20 percent of the entire state—is, at its headwaters in the northwestern foothills of Mount Hood, little more than a shallow, translucent stream just a few feet wide. Named after the runaway cattle that chased land surveyors through the nearby forest in the late 1800s, the Bull Run River emanates from a serene mountain lake of the same name with an immaculate
Himalayas head not to Mount Hood in the winter—which can nonetheless be brutal in its own right—but to the hulking mass of volcanic enormity that is Mount Rainier. But if you ask a little kid to draw a mountain, he won’t conjure up Rainier’s globular greatness. He’ll draw a textbook Mount Hood. Every time. BEGINNINGS Youth, what man’s age is like to be doth show; We may our ends by our beginnings know. —SIR JOHN DENHAM, “Of Prudence” THE EARLIEST PAGES of Mount Hood’s story
was never a problem for Lady, the 200-pound Bruel always chickened out on the descent and had to be rescued from the summit by ski patroller Hank Lewis three different times. After Lady and Bruel, huskies became the lodge’s mascot of choice, but Kohnstamm went back to Saint Bernards in the 1960s with Heidi and Bruno. Since then, there’s always been a Heidi and/or a Bruno roaming the lodge, though these days they live with longtime employees, not in the lodge. In October 2010, three-year-old
felt alive and strong, tense with the energy of anticipation. Everyone was there on Hood’s south side, huddled around the climbing register in Timberline’s Wy’east Day Lodge: ten students, two assistant guides, and a climb leader, all of us a party of Ptarmigans, the local mountaineering club that as of 2009 had embarked on indefinite hiatus after more than forty years of Cascade enjoyment. But this was 1999 and the club was invigorated, as were all of us who were there at 6,000 feet about to
that burger and beer at Calamity Jane’s. Drip. We don’t talk much, and what with the clouds socking everything in, there’s little to see save for the droplets drip, drip, dripping off the corn lilies and bear grass and strands of old-man’s beard lichen draped on the branches overhead. At least Oliver’s having fun. Now that he’s on the trail and able to bound, his step has sprung and he’s not bothered at all by the water that’s beading off his coat as he races up and back, up and back. As we’re