Updated: Nov 8, 2022
An unexpected adventure out in the snow in Mount Hood National Forest.
It was a sunny winter day and I felt the forest calling to me. I decided to hop in my car with my day pack and my lunch. I drove down Hwy 224 towards Ripplebrook following the winding road that mirrors the river. It’s always such a beautiful and relaxing drive. I wanted to see if maybe I could make it to Anvil Lake. I knew it had snowed recently so I wasn’t expecting that I’d be able to, but I at least wanted to try.
I took FS-58 and made my way up the foothills of Mt Hood. I started to hit snow as I got within a half mile from where FS-57 breaks off from the road. It was still driveable so I continued on 58 as it started to steadily climb upwards. I got to the turn off for the road that leads to Anvil when the tires started to slip pretty bad. The rest of the road was uphill so I decided to turn around there.
I pulled off at a road that was blocked with a berm and got out of my car. I was planning on just taking some pictures of the road and trees covered in snow then starting my drive home. But in the distance I could hear the soft roar of a river… it’s steady, soft song kinda tugged at the impulsive side of me. I pulled out my map and looked to see where the river was coming from and what the terrain around it looked like. The snow was about 1-1 1/2 ft deep which means it would leave tracks and the weather was supposed to be good well into the night. So I grabbed my map and backpack. Put my warm hiking clothes on and set off on my spontaneous adventure.
The whole way to the river was downhill and there was a dry creek that ran down the hill that I knew would meet up with the river. So I decided to follow that down. Overall it was pretty fool proof to make my way there and back without getting lost. I found the dry creek and made sure to stomp good tracks in. I’d occasionally look back to make sure they were easily visible and so I knew what it looked like on the way back. I felt so exhilarated from the prospects of making my own trail. I felt like I was walking through a beautiful winter wonderland. The snow was so fluffy and soft.
At one point in the creek I came across a large amount of animal tracks. It looked like deer. As I made my way down the hill in the creek bed I’d occasionally have to duck, and yes, even crawl around bushes or low hanging tree branches. At one point there was a good 8 foot drop in the creek. There was a sturdy log on the edge that was parallel to it so I walked it like a high beam.
When I got close to the base of the bottom of the hill the river was definitely louder. There was one last obstacle, a 5 ft area of medium sized boulders to traverse. I was able to climb over them and a couple logs then I made my way pretty easy to the river. To my amazement there was a perfect little waterfall across the entire stream. There was a log that must have fallen a while ago and blocked the flow of the water. So the water flowed over it now.
It was so beautiful especially with all the snow and ice surrounding it. I took pictures and just enjoyed the cool discovery I happened across. A couple hundred feet up or down the river and I wouldn’t have even know this existed. I decided to head back and was easily able to find my way back. There was one section that was a little more sketchy going up then down, but I was able to make it through without any problems.
Once I got back to my car I decided to walk past the berm and up the hill/old road to see where it went. The powder was so freaking fluffy. It was fun to kick up. As I neared the top of the hill the road curved to the right. That was when I ran into a trail of pretty fresh coyote tracks. During the summer I’d seen one in this area so I wasn’t too surprised. It was going in the opposite direction as me so I wasn’t too worried about running into it.
I continued down the road and it led to a little gravel pit type area. The sun was filtering through the trees with an orange-y golden glow. I took some pictures and just took it all in. Whenever I go outdoors I love taking pictures, but after I’m done I always try and take a moment to just breathe in what I’m seeing and experiencing. I want to remember how it felt while I was there, not just that I took a picture. I want to capture moments I experience, not just capture a pretty place and not connect to it.
I went back down the road and climbed into my car. I ate up pretty quickly the remainder of my lunch (probably in less than a minute.) Then I made my way back down the road towards home.
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