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Night Ride around Mt. Hood

Last night I took a motorcycle ride, from about 10pm to 2am.

I rode east on I84 along the Columbia River to the city of Hood River (which sits at the mouth of the Hood River as it dumps into the Columbia in the county of Hood River) and onto Highway 35. I headed south on Highway 35 around the back side of Mt. Hood to Highway 26 where I turned West. At Government Camp I split off and climb up to TimberLine Lodge, then back down to Government Camp and back onto highway 26 and towards home, making a complete loop around Mt. Hood.

The trip was about 175 miles total.

Going up into the gorge on the freeway was very quiet, very few cars for a Tuesday night... A few barges on the Columbia looked like iridescent ghosts with their couple lights shimmering from the tugs and the big black barge they push. The moon bounced off the small waves that are ever-present on the Columbia.

On Highway 35 I could smell the forest fires, especially since Highway 35 was just recently re-opened after the Mt. Hood. Complex fire. Riding along the Hood River in the bright moonlight was beautiful. I only passed a couple cars on the whole 40 or so miles on highway 35. The moonlight on the cascades of the river was wonderful.

The drive goes much faster in dry weather, as I am used to doing it to go skiing and there is a big difference between dry pavement and snow-pack...

Timberline Lodge was great as well. It is fantastic in daytime any time of year, but surreal at night. It was just after midnight by this time, and I hiked around on the trails. Mt. Hood was ghostly in the near full moon, and the stars were a little washed out due to the bright moonlight. There was no wind, an not a stir from any creature or person. Some of the trails were so quiet I could hear my heart beat. I sat for a while gazing up at the lights on the top of the Palmer glacier ski lift and a little lower at Silcox hut. The moon and stars were fantastic above the timberline at just over 6000 feet... It was a perfect temperature, cool but not cold. I would recommend a night stay at Timberline Lodge, and lots of late night walks...

The ride back down to Sandy was uneventful, however the area around ZigZag and Rhododendron was the coldest part of the whole trip. Downright frigid (you notice the temperature changes much more on a motorcycle).

After over 100 miles driving in wilderness area, I come within inches of hitting a dear in downtown Sandy, as a doe leaps from behind a parked car in the one-way grid.

On the way back through Gresham and into Portland I watch the cops bust people as the bars let out the drunks, and the streets are quiet all the way home.

All in all, a great night ride around the mountain. Although I could have planned better and worn warmer gear - but I didn't know where I was headed until I was half way there...

Oh, and earplugs hurt a little as you make large changes in elevation... (Like 3000 vertical feet in under 10 miles).

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