Posts Tagged ‘Cooper Spur’

Cooper Spur / Tilley Jane Area 1/22/2011

Garmin Interactive Map

3.91 miles

Elevation Gain:
1,401 ft

Min / Max Elevation:
3,803 ft / 5,213 ft

Kristin, Dexter, Myself

Cooper Spur is located on the Eastside of Mt Hood. Cooper Spur is a smaller resort (hotel/cabins) with one ski lift. The last few winters the resort itself hasn’t had the greatest snow winter with having to be closed much of the season. This side of the Mountain is a nice escape as it is much less busy compared to Highway 26 side with Timberline Lodge, Ski Bowl, Summit and Mt Hood Meadows traffic coming from Portland.


The trailhead is just above Cooper Spur Resort off of the Cloud Cap Road. This trail is popular for snowshoers, cross-country skiers, snowboarders, and climbers. Typically most people hike to the Tilley Jane Cabin area, which is about a 5 mile RT hike. During the winters the conditions beyond Tilley Jane toward Cooper Spur (Top of Spur – 9,000 ft) can be wicked windy. During the summer time the trail is heavily used by hikers as it accesses the Timberline Trail#600 (Loop around Mt Hood).



[Trail is well marked]

This area has changed dramatically over the last few years due to major wildfires. The Gnarl Ridge Fire burnt many acres leaving behind limbless trees. Prior to the fire the forest was dense and cozy feeling – now the terrain is much more open with just burnt trees standing behind. With the help of mother nature the forest’s openness provides much clearer views of the Cascade Mountain Range.


[Looking into the Valley through the burnt trees]


[Mt Hood]


[Mt St Helens]


[Mt Adams]

Sadly, there wasn’t any fresh powder or really any snow. I had packed our snowshoes thinking we may use them on a few steep parts, but it wasn’t necessary as other hikers had imprinted the trail with their large snowshoe prints creating a stairway to Tilley Jane.


[Snow Hiking]

I was surprised how little snow there was and how many bare spots lay at 5,000 ft in the dead of winter! It definitely made hiking less tiring minusing out the extra weight of snowshoes on the feet.



[Dex & I]


[Kristin & Dex]

This is a popular trail for dogs. Most of the dogs (huskies) we saw were more winter-fit compared to our short-haired friend Dexter. Dexter definitely got a workout in sprinting up and down hills investigating the trail ahead. We discovered afterwards that Dexter’s paws were a little raw due to the ‘ice’ so it might be wise to get some booties for these types of conditions in the future…




[Cloud Cap Cabin]

We decided to turn back before making it to Tilley Jane due to the sun setting. I tried reassuring Kristin that I had headlamps and it would be doable – needless to say we turned around and headed for Hood River. We hit up Big Horse Brew Pub in Hood River for a quick burger and brew before making the trek back to the city..


Timberline Loop #600 – Mt Hood, OREGON

40ish mile Round Trip (Pacific Crest Trail #2000, Timberline Trail #600)

Elevation Gain:
10,734 ft

Min/Max Elevation:
3,322 ft / 7,392 ft

Andrew, Casey, Brian, Jake, Myself

Brian’s Garmin Stats / My Garmin Stats (my watch died just before finishing)

Ah yes, the Timberline Loop. The 40-ish mile loop around the base of Mt Hood, OREGON. I have backpacked the Timberline Loop 3 times prior to attempting this outlandish goal of run-hiking it in “less than 24 hours.”

It all started when Andrew was asking me about good trails to run. I gave him some info on Ramona Falls and a few other relatively flatter

trails with good terrain. After looking through pictures and listening to my rants about how cool the TLine Loop is he came up with the crazy idea of run-hiking it in less than 24 hours.

Against my better judgment I agreed to this ridiculous idea as did Casey, Brian and Jake. Andrew seems to get us to do the craziest (also stupidest) adventures. The last time I ran into Jake was when Andrew got Casey, Jake, myself and a few others to go on a snowshoeing trip one winter.

A quick story to preface this one…

We all crammed into Andrew’s ‘other’ van with high hopes of surviving another Andrew-planned-trip. Almost to the Mountain we learn of Andrew’s van’s issues as we hit snow. We pull over as the road is getting more sketch to drive as we gained elevation. It turns out not only are the tires completely bald (bald even for completely dry and perfect roads), but the tire chains that came with the van are the wrong size and do not fit. With just a few close calls and a hell of a lot of weight in the van we made it to Government Camp.


[The Van, the snowshoers and a lot of snow!]

There was no real plan except to head up – up to Timberline Lodge that is and mostly because we couldn’t drive the van up there. For awhile we followed some trails then apparently decided that this was too ‘easy’ and started to hike in some crazy deep snow in the trees.


[Andrew gettin stuck in some deep POW]


[Trailblazing through the trees up to Timberline Lodge]


[Hangin just below the Lodge with the Mountain looming in the background]

We ended up making it up to Timberline Lodge and back to Govy all in one peice. We were lead by Andrew (the marine) going some crazy grueling militant pace.

[Snowshoe racing]

We all survived … barely, well at least enough to hit up the brewery in Government Camp – Mt Hood Brewing Company (Ice Axe Grill).

Okay, back to Timberline Loop…

Immediately once Jake and I saw one another – we remembered our last experience together with Andrew. “Good times” we both said as we prepared for the worst.

We got up to Timberline Lodge and hit the trail about 2:15am Sunday morning. Most of us were very much sleep deprived including myself. I had gotten up at 6am Saturday and had not gotten any naps in – smart, i know.

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[In climber’s registration before hitting the trail]

[2:15am, we are hardcore, or maybe idiots?]

We started from Timberline Lodge and headed clockwise around the mountain. The trail is well define and wide. We had bright headlights that had provided adequate light. In addition, Andrew had brought his bike light he uses when cycling. This light is so incredibly bright and shines a great distance that when he is cycling cars flash him thinking he is a motorcycle with brights on.

As we hiked we could see the glow of the city, the outline of the Mountain, and from time to time animals. We spotted a 4x buck grazing on the hillside.

For the first 13 miles or so we hiked solidly in the dark. Just after Ramona Falls and just before the Muddy Fork we started to see day light. We stopped for a moment to take in the first views of the day.


[The gang]

Prior to the hike I put together a tentative plan for stops, breaks, and water refills. I feel that it is absolutely essential to take 5 minute breaks every few miles to refuel your body (food, hydration), take the weight off your back, and to rest your feet – especially when doing endurance hiking. We sort of abided by the plan… didn’t do so well at the beginning then proceeded to take more rests towards the middle and end. Just after the Muddy Fork near Bald Mountain Jake decided to check his feet and found a colossal blister on the bottom of his foot, which he proceeded to cut through with his pocket knife. This would be the beginning of our bad luck.


[Trail surgery]


[Jake trail surgery – Casey bandaging his own wounds]

Also, just before this stop Casey just about fell to his death on a slightly washed out area. Luckily whatever reflexes he did have saved him from eventually ending up in the Pacific Ocean; however, he messed his knee up pretty bad. 28 more miles to go boys, lets do it!

[Mile 15-ish checking in…]

Just beyond mile 15 Jakes blister worsened forcing him with no other choice but to hike barefooted. The combination of his tough feet and softer trail allowed him to continue on with minimal pain – what a trooper!


[McNeil Point/Carin Basin Area]

Just before arriving to the McNeil Point area I was viciously attacked by one of the biggest hornets I’d ever seen. I was wearing shorts with leggings underneath minding my own beeswax when all of a sudden this hornet latches onto my leg and stings me. I am slightly allergic and have become less allergic over the years it seems. However, the fear of being stung still exists.


[Few minutes after being stung. It proceed to swell over the next few days]

[Casey sums up our current status – we are pretty haggard at this point]


[pumping some tasty water]


[Very cool spot to stop – I ended up taking a little snooze as everyone was pumping their water]


[Not far from the Elliot Glacier wash out area – Jake leading the way in flipflops]

Jake was having a difficult time hiking with his blister situation. When we stopped at McNeil Point I took my pack off and realized that I had flipflops that he could wear. This seemed to make life much easier for the time being.

[Trail Closed]

From here you have to hike up the ridge line towards the glacier for about .25 miles or so. If you know wear to look there is a giant boulder visible with a rope anchored to it. The grade of the hill is pretty steep, but is doable without the rope. The rope just allows you to go faster and balances your body with your pack on.


[Andrew getting into position to use the rope to hike down]


[Me coming down… ]


[Gives you perspective of the steep grade – maybe 150 ft to bottom of rope]

[Elliot Glacier Washout area]

After guiding yourself down the rope about 150 feet or so you have to meander up and over boulders down around to the river. The trail markers are okay. The best thing to do is to plan out your trip from the top of the canyon. The trail on the other side of the river is viewable so it is best to know the general direction to go after rappelling and crossing the river.


[Coming up the other side]






[Andrew w/ Mt Adams in distance]

In my mind from the Elliot Glacier on is the most difficult portion of the Timberline Loop. There is much more technical hiking involved with more river crossings and elevation gains. From Elliot Glacier washout we would climb up to about 7,300 ft (about 2,000 ft of elevation gain).

From beyond the Cooper Spur Shelter the terrain is made up of fine grain sand and the area is extreme desolate looking. As you curve around the Mountain you can faintly see in the distance rock stacks marking the trail. The weather on this side of the mountain was much colder and windier – layers were in order.


We had stopped to pump water long enough for Casey to fall asleep on some rocks.

We ended up making to the Mt Hood Meadows Ski Boundary before seeing the sunset. My goal was to be across White River before dark, but with all of the blisters, bum knees, and fatigue I was okay with it. Just beyond Mt Hood Meadows my feet were toast – I had to switch to flipflops. I had some killer blisters that started after mile 5. Each step I took I could feel my heels being rubbed raw. It was such a relief to go flipflops and relieve the pressure from my heels.

The White River crossing is a little tricky because there are a few islands you have to cross over onto since the river is so wide. Luckily with Andrew’s crazy bright cycling light we were able to locate the trail markers relatively easy and make it across quickly. We all moved quick through that section because the wind off the glacier water was frigid cold.

From White River up to Timberline Lodge it is about 2 miles with 1,000 ft elevation gain. With already hiked 30 some odd miles with some intense elevation gain fatigue was setting in. The wicked mountain winds made it seem like we were climbing up Everest at times. This gave us just enough adrenaline to finish it out strong. We finished at about 9pm.

IMG_0272 IMG_0273 IMG_0277

Andrew had decided he was the least tired out of us and best suited to drive ‘the van’ home – Brian acted as co-pilot keeping him awake. Well, for us 3 in the back – we passed out in a matter of minutes.

Overall – definitely not the ideal hiking experience. In the past I’ve done the Timberline loop in a 2-3 day backpacking trip and still feel this is the best way to go. With our run-hike experience we were not able to enjoy it (with nagging injuries included). We were too worried about meeting our time versus hanging out taking in the scenery, which is really what hiking is about. As for myself I am going to retire the Timberline Loop for awhile and explore other areas…. more days and less miles! 🙂