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Off-Road Adventures-Exploring Mount Hood National Forest, Oregon USA

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Updated June 12, 2016

Going on off-road adventures in the Mount Hood National Forest in Oregon USA is a bit like Christopher Columbus sailing uncharted seas and bumping into America.  When we journey into the unknown wilderness, we discover incredible places. 

We sallied forth into the foothills (lesser volcanic mountains) of the Cascade Range, off the southwest slope of Mt. Hood, Oregon USA in search of autumn wonder.

This alpine lake is a show-stopper any season of the year.

I’m always camera ready so I can share nature’s delights with you.  For my birthday last year my family pooled their resources, did their research and gave me a shiny red camera (yes, red is my favorite color).

With some cash gifts I received I choose a red camera bag to sling over my shoulder on hikes.  I splurged on a couple of extra batteries so I would never be caught without the ability to photograph a special find.  To corral all the extra paraphernalia that go with digital cameras, I purchased a molded case to throw into my tote or suitcase when I travel; there’s plenty of room inside to protect my camera while en route.

Weaving our way through a changing forest via rugged gravel roads, we scaled a mountain top yielding awe-inspiring vistas. (Some of our off-road adventures include dodging pot holes big enough to swallow our rig!)

Like jewels in oncoming bleakness, delicate flora resists frosty nights.

No off-road adventures into the forest are complete without encountering at least one species of wildlife.  On this trip, the grouse were strutting along the edges of the road after gizzard fodder (gravel bits).  They are flighty creatures, startling easily and flying up into the trees to hide; very difficult to photograph as they’re always on the move and their non-descriptive markings make great camouflage. 

Off-road adventures are where you find them.  I recently discovered a new setting on my camera which plays with light and color (I have no idea what the name of the setting is as I’m an amateur photographer).  Of my dozen shots of this interesting scene of bleached tree roots, blue sky and golden brilliance, this is the best photo . . . needs work, but I’m learning.

Autumn Alder Art

Dampness and leaf mold, a timeless teasing of the senses . . . crisp mountain air, crystalline frost, leaves flitting and falling softly with whispering breezes, the soothing sounds of cascading waters . . . . Autumn touches an Alder grove in the Mount Hood National Forest, Oregon USA.

We plunged deeply into a steep walled canyon, where discussion ensued, “Alder or River Birch trees?”  Upon closer inspection, we found the picturesque groves to be Alder.

Off-Road Adventures
Wilderness Preparation

Spring chases the snow from these higher elevations usually by the end of June, with snow returning again in mid-October.  Because the area is so remote and there are no nearby services or conveniences, come with a full tank of fuel, warm clothing, extra food and plenty of drinking water as none is available.  In autumn, winter and early spring these areas are infrequently traveled.   Be prepared to pack out trash and to take care of personal needs in the forest; bring a small hand shovel and biodegradable toilet paper.  No cell phone signal or service is available.  Autumn is hunting season in the Mt. Hood National Forest; please use caution.

I wonder about the history of this old moss covered bridge where the creek reveals her ever changing character. 

The lazy creek falls into a narrow gorge and shoots out the other side, foamy and in a hurry, tumbling rocks in the rapids.

Huge volcanic protrusions bulge from the ground and . . . 

 . . . Surprise!  We find another waterfall hidden deep in the cleft behind twiggy brush along the road!

We travel deeper into the canyon.

The walls close in on the canyon even more!

I envisioned Moses striking the rock with his staff to bring forth water for the Israelites while they wandered in the wilderness. Imagine what off-road adventures they must have had!

This wildlife trail set my mind to thinking.  What animals use it, it’s so well worn.  When do they use it?  Where does it lead?  How far does it go?  Is it ancient or new?  Will I encounter wildlife if I follow it?  Has any human ever followed this trail?  I wonder what’s beyond what I can see.  What stories might be told by this trail?

Someday I’m going to follow such a trail until it disappears.  Yet, am I brave enough to face bare-bones wilderness, stumble upon a black bear or risk being stalked by a cougar, as I have before?  I’m not as young, nimble or fearless as I once was. . . . Someday I’m going to follow such a trail until it disappears.

A gate across the road brings our trip by wheels to an end.  We circumvent the gate and continue on foot; so much more to see!

A day spent here is like finding precious treasure.

Dampness and leaf mold, a timeless teasing of the senses.

The crisp mountain air, hoar frost, leaves flitting and falling softly with whispering breezes, the soothing sounds of cascading waters . . . 

 . . . a hushing upon paradise just before a snowy sleep.

More Oregon Road Trips You Might Enjoy . . . 

An Off Road Trip Secret--Olallie Scenic Area, Oregon USA

Clackamas River Recreation Area

Elkhorn Drive Scenic Byway--A Wild West Gold Rush!

Exploring Like Christopher Columbus

Molalla River Corridor & Table Rock Wilderness

Oregon Central Coast

Oregon City--Pioneering the Past

The Columbia River Gorge--Historic Columbia River Highway, Eastern Section

The Historic Columbia River Highway--Historic Columbia River Highway, Western Section

The Snake River Oregon--Road Tripping Up-streme!

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