Trip Report: Hawk Mountain Backpack
Trip Report: Hawk Mountain Backpack
Next Adventure Outdoor School - July 19-20, 2014 -
There were amazing views to be had atop the summit of Hawk Mountain. Standing in a field of mountain wildflowers, Mt. Jefferson was right there in your face, with Mt. Hood to the north and the Central Oregon Cascade peaks to the south. Big plumes of white smoke billowed up behind Mt. Jefferson, evidence of wildfires raging to the east.
Next Adventure Outdoor School was there on Hawk Mountain for a 2-day Introduction to Backpacking trip last weekend for fun and learning on the trail.
We loaded and adjusted our packs and started out hiking north along the Rho Ridge trail. Beargrass and penstemon flowers lined the path, and we caught glimpses of Mt. Jefferson between the trees.
Once in camp, we went over selecting a tent site, setting up a tent, inflating sleeping pads, and fluffing up sleeping bags, and leave no trace camping principles.
After settling in to camp, we set out on a day hike along the Rho Ridge trail, winding our way through the big mountain hemlocks and silver fir trees up to a beargrass-studded meadow with views of Mt. Hood. Big helicopters passed overhead refilling buckets of water from nearby Round Lake before heading back east to fight the fires burning there.
Round Creek was the perfect spot to discuss water filtration. After talking about selecting a water source treatment options, we demonstrated the Sawyer mini squeeze filter, and how to pump with a Katadyn Hiker Pro filter.
Back in camp, conversation led to fire safety and how to build a fire in the soggy Pacific Northwest. We collected dry twigs, excavated a fire pit, and had a small back-country fire to roast our weenies on for dinner.
Then it was time for another hike. We climbed the trail up to Hawk Mountain's summit and enjoyed the amazing wildflowers and mountain views.
We trotted back down the trail before dark, and sat in camp for a camping Q&A session until the first stars came out.
We awoke the next morning in the clouds. Fog rolled through camp, never really raining, but leaving a sheen of dampness on everything.
Camp stoves were the topic of conversation over breakfast, as we used the MSR Reactor and the SnowPeak GigaPower stoves to make our morning coffee, tea and oatmeal, and discussed the pros and cons of liquid fuel verses canister stoves. Map and compass skills were covered, too.
We packed up most of our gear and stowed it in one tent before setting out for a morning hike up Hawk Mountain. The tree tops were lost in fog, and there were no mountains visible through the clouds.
The wildflowers were perkier, and we appreciated the yellow wooly sunflowers, red paintbrush, violet-blue penstemon, white buckwheat and yarrow, greenish-white sedum, and fuzzy cat's-ear lilies (among many other flowers blooming).
We held our last classroom discussion atop Hawk Mountain, sitting on rocks in the middle of the wildflowers, with the clouds swirling through the trees. We discussed active wear and foot wear: dressing for comfort, wicking materials, layering, waterproof/breathable fabrics, boots versus shoes, blister prevention, first aid, Leave No Trace, and tied together the other backpack camping topics we had covered.
We returned to camp and packed up the last of our gear and backpacked out to the trailhead. The clouds were lifting, and the shoulders of Mt. Jefferson could be seen. A picnic lunch awaited us at the trailhead. We unpacked our gear and talked a bit about care and storage of gear before loading up the van and heading back to Next Adventure in Portland.
It was a fabulous weekend of mountains, alpine wildflowers, and backpacking instruction. It was a great group, and we had a spectacular time hiking and camping on Hawk Mountain in Oregon's Mt. Hood National Forest.
Next Adventure Outdoor School has more backpack trips planned for you this summer.
Join us July 30 - August 1 for a 3-Day Backpack along Rho Ridge,
August 5-8 for a 4-Day Backpack on the Pacific Crest Trail,
August 25-27 for a 3-Day Backpack in the Olallie Lake Scenic Area,
or September 10-14 for a 5-Day Backpack on the PCT.
Can't make our scheduled trips? We can create a custom tour for you and your group when you want to go.
Contact OUTDOORSCHOOL@NEXTADVENTURE.NET for details.
Greg Hill is Lead Guide and Program Manager for Next Adventure Outdoor School, based in beautiful Portland, Oregon.
Next Adventure is a fully-insured licensed Outfitter and Guide with the State of Oregon. Next Adventure is an equal opportunity Recreation Provider operating under special use permit on the Mt. Hood National Forest and Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, USDA Forest Service.