Hello folks, long time no see. After a 6 month break from blogging I’ve decided to get back in the saddle, with a new name and a new look. Hazel – .not only is it a beautiful name, but it’s the colour of my eyes (I have vivid memories of being in Kindergarten and becoming distressed when, being asked to draw a picture of our tiny sweet faces, there was no hazel-coloured crayon for me. I mushed together green and brown -it didn’t look the best, but I felt less anxious).
Anyway, on to the post. In September Paul and I packed up some ultra-light camping gear and spent a month in the US, starting in Oregon in Portland, driving across to Bend, then into Idaho to Boise, up through the Sawtooth Wilderness, over to Grand Tetons National Park, up to Yellowstone, further north to Glacier National Park, and back to Oregon via Washington. I’m going to pick things up in Mount Hood National Forest, which was our first stop after a brilliant (non-camping) week in Portland (so brilliant, it will be difficult to contain it in one post – let me mull that over). Our first stop after Portland was in Mt Hood River, a lovely little town full of great coffee, craft beer, friendly locals, and really beautiful scenery. We had lunch at Pfriem Brewery, right on the river, then hit the road to Mt Hood National Forest.
Destination: Toll Bridge Park, a beautiful campground right on the river. This would be the first of many experiences of US campgrounds, which, compared with a lot we’ve encounted in Australia, are straight-up awesome. Care has been taken to make each site as private and functional as possible, and the National Forest/Parks systems provide incredibly great facilities. The booking system leaves a little to be desired, but with change from $20 a night, I can’t be mad. After getting our campsite sorted, we headed to the river with a couple of warmish Pfriem beers in hand, which were rapidly chilled after being dunked for a bit in the freezing Mt Hood River.
We’d intentionally not stocked up on food for the evening, intending to hit up Solera Brewery in nearly Parkdale. We knew it would be a bit of a walk and were totally up for that, especailly after spending a week in Portland growing large on all the incredible food on offer. Solera sits under the shadow of Mt Hood, and is a family-friendly establishment where food and beers are all made in-house. On our visit there was a bit of a bluesy music festival going on in the paddock out the back, so we sat back and enjoyed some beers, and the best toasted cheese sandwich I’ve ever had in my life, while a band played some chilled out tunes as the sun set over the mountain. Being Australian and erring on the side of “things will work out”, we assumed there’d be some sort of taxi/Uber service in the town that would take us from the brewery and back to our campsite 3km away. There wasn’t. Fortunately, small town hospitality is alive and well in Parkland Oregon, and one of the head brewers kindly drove us back to our campsite. Legend!
Our first night camping went off without a hitch, and in the morning we drove to the east of Mount Hood, via this highly-instagrammable field that perfectly captured how incredible it is to be surrounded by snow-capped mountains and sunshine and forests.
With brilliant blue skies and temperatures in the low-teens, it was perfect Autumn hiking weather. We hit up the Vista Ridge Trail, a hike jam-packed with stunning mountain scenery and beautiful forest paths. The trail wasn’t super-well marked and we only got lost a couple of times, but it was utterly worth it for all the chipmunks we saw along the way (and yes, Chip N Dale sing-alongs totally happened: Paul wasn’t pleased).
After looping back to the car we hit the road to Bend, driving through the lower slopes of the mountain and being utterly stunned by the incredible scenery.Stay tuned for part two, where we almost choke to death on wildfire smoke in Bend, then head east to Idaho.