Mt. Hood: Mirror Lake and Tom Dick & Harry Mountain

  • Easy and really beautiful dayhike with great views on Mt. Hood + Mt. Rainier, Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Jefferson in the distance.
  • About 3.2 miles up, same way back down. 6.4ml total.
  • Gently uphill. 
  • Come early as it’s a popular hike and the TH parking lot fills quickly.
  • Big thank you to Wired for helping me find this hike!!!

    We drive up in the clouds and get one of the last spots at the trailhead to Mirror Lake. Despite of the 20 cars parked, we hardly meet anyone on the way up to Mirror Lake. I feel like walking through some exotic yet strangely familiar forest. Pinetrees are towering high but underneath rhododendrons bloom. Birds sing and it’s magical.

    The trail zigzags up gently and before we know it we’re at mirror lake. There’s not much to see in the mirror, but my own face. Maybe that’s enough. Maybe that’s what it’s about. Looking into the mirror of my own nature might be just the right thing to do while waiting for the clouds to set the mountain free.

    An then there he is. Mt. Hood. Such a beauty. The clouds kiss him goodbye and we hike on, up the ridge to Tom, Dick and Harry Mountain. 2 long switchbacks. Smooth. With beautiful views back on Hood. Wildflowers bloom. Mosquitoes too. A well. Soon we’re on top and the view is breathtaking. I just stand there and think of the journey of the past months. 4 months ago I was learning to walk again. Now I am standing here. I can’t lift my leg properly yet and use it like ‘normal’ but I made it up here. And that’s fucking awesome. 

    At Mirror Lake I receive Goaltechs message with a dinner invitation. So kind. We happily say yes. Goaltech gave us his Happy Hiker Award two years ago while we were hiking the PCT. We only met for 10 minutes along the trail in California, his trailmagic and kindness stayed longer. 


    In the evening we drive up to Timberline Lodge and meet Goaltech and his daughters at the Rams head bar. We have dinner with a view of the sunset on Mt. Jefferson and we talk trail trail trail. It’s wonderful. How great it is to connect with people around the world, sharing the same passion. I have experienced so much kindness in this community. But some, like Goaltech, really stand out. Tomorrow he and his daughters hike up Mt. Hood, almost to the summit. Pretty badass. And it’s so good to see parents take their kids into nature, up mountains, on trails and spend time outdoors together. It gives me hope for the future.

    Well fed (both body and soul) we drive back down to our campsite along muddy creek. The moon is out and ‘shining’ when we go to bed and I have a good nights sleep (one of the best since surgery actually). Ah I love sleep. And mountains. And birds. And pillows. And life!

    Eagle Creek Trail & Tunnel Falls

    • Eagle Creek Trailhead – camp at 7 1/2 miles camp – Eagle Creek TH;
    • passing Punchbowl falls, High Bridge, Tunnel Falls, Crossover Falls. 
    • Total miles: 15-16. (Definitely doable in a day too if you have a healthy body)
    • Trail condition: gently uphill, some steep dropp offs

    We are parked under the Bridge of the Gods. I’m not walking across. I am under it. Sitting in a car. I feel a sting in my heart. A big part of me just wants to grab my pack and head out on the PCT. Northbound, southbound, who the hell cares. Just “bound”. Meeting the trail feels like meeting an old love you never quite stopped loving. There’s a heartbreak, yet a sweetness too. A longing. Maybe a belonging.

    Instead we drive towards the Eagle Creek Trailhead, which makes the heartbreak a little less painful. I’ve been wanting to hike under Tunnel Falls for such a long time. Today will be the day… if my body allows it. My first hike, seven months after surgery. And to be honest, I don’t mind right now that I can’t hike long distances. At this point in my life I am just so so damn grateful that I cán walk. It’s been so hard learning to walk again. And even though every step still hurts, I walk with such joy and such gratitude. Ah. It’s all a miracle. I just love every part of the movement. Lifting my leg, stretching it forward, putting my foot down, shifting my balance, … A fucking miracle… and hard work, but noone ever said miracles don’t need to be worked for (or did someone, a well I guess someone did)…

    My surgeon gave me his ‘go’ to start hiking, no heavy backpack though, and nothing above 9 miles. So we go for 8 and Roots carries part of my stuff. 

    I feel good, wearing my hiking clothes, my dirty old Tshirt and dirty girl gaiters with holes in them. My tight shorts are a bit loose around my left leg. The muscles haven’t grown back yet. My poor little leggy. Time to make it strong again. I put on my backpack but I don’t close my hipbelt tightly. My screws are sticking out on the front site of my hip bone and can’t stand any pressure. 

    The Eagle Creek Trail starts smooth and gently. The trail is easy to walk and hardly goes uphill even though it does cause soon I can see the creek well below and the drop offs are great if you’re not afraid of heights. The trail is carved into the rocks, beautifully made. We wonder who did all this hard work. We should find out and honor them.

    We reach Punchbowl Falls together with a ton of dayhikers. After 2,5 miles I need to go lay down. Gone are the days I could walk 17 miles without a break. A well, life changes. It’s not less good. Life is beautiful in a new way, compared to the way it was before my body… hm… how do I put this… I’m having a hard time using the word ‘disabled’. I don’t know what my body is right now, but it’s still pretty awesome. I lay down for 20 minutes, watch the falls and the people, and then we head on towards high bridge.

    As soon as we’re past Punchbowl Falls the dayhike crowd is gone. And the trail gets more beautiful with every step. I talk to the flowers, we meet 2 small snakes and I’m amazed by the flora that is so similar to the flora at home. I know their names and their medicine. How cool is that? And then we even hear familiar bird voices. They almost sing the same song, it’s just another dialect. Hey Zaunkönig! Hey Amsel!

    At the next bridge crossing the creek and another 2 miles on, I need my next break. We go lay down next to the creek. I dig a hole for my butt and lay down on the pebbles. Seriously feels like heaven. Someone yells down from the bridge. Are you guys hiking the PCT? The water is too loud to talk so he comes down. I saw your Gossamer Gear pack and… Holy shit, it’s Lint! How cool is that. We met 2 years ago along the PCT and never got the chance to talk. Ha this world is small!  He’s a whirlwind of “wild life” and good vibes and one of the craziest hikers I ever met, having hiked the triple crown three frikkin’ times! After 15 minutes of “serious” hiker talk, he continues his hike back down while we head up. Tunnel Falls. I’m filled with anticipation.

    And then there it is. Even though I’ve seen many pictures of it, it’s impressive. Pictures never compare to the real thing. Walking through the water drips down from the tunnel ‘ceiling’ and coming out on the other side feels like a welcome shower on a hot day. The trail is wet and narrow and kind of magical. Too soon I’m passed it and for once I’m happy we’re taking the same way back tomorrow. The loop going back along the PCT would be too much for my body so instead I get to hike underneath tunnel falls twice. There’s always something good to find. 

    I wake up at night, half asleep. Is it raining? I hear something. That’s no rain, Root says, that’s a mouse eating through our foodbag. We’re so dumm hanging our food just on a treebranch. Should’ve known our little fellow creatures are smart here. We take the food inside. Roots beloved Zpacks foodbag has holes now and we sleep on.

    We wake up early but are lazy in camp (ah no need to hurry, we’re short distance hiking). 2 early bird hikers pass. Good morning world! 

    The way back down is nowhere near boring. It’s just as beautiful as yesterday. Different. Cause the sun is shining in a different angle. Nothing is ever the same. Just like the river. Just like the light and shadow walking through and making everything look new. Crossover Falls. Tunnel Falls. Wow! 

    I feel full arriving back at the trailhead. Full of happiness, joy and most of all gratitude. I am so damn lucky.

      The Beauty in Brokenness

      Did you ever feel broken?  

      Do you know that frozen second of time where you can see a cup falling down, not yet having touched the floor? That second where you hold your breath, where time stands still and you know it’s too late to fight what is meant to be, that sacred in between of an old life that is about to fall apart and a new life in which the puzzle pieces are trying to find the place that has been theirs all along.

      Maybe you cover your ears with your hands not to hear the cringing sound of breaking porcelain, crushing bones and shattering hearts. Maybe you close your eyes not to see the damage that is about to happen right in front of you. Or maybe you just stand there and that moment of all or nothing becomes your world. Maybe just for a while.

      And then when the life of that one second comes to an end, you fall to your knees and you fight back your tears because you know that when you weep for too long it will be just too damn hard to find your sherds through the fog. And maybe you can’t find them all, maybe some remain hidden under the heaviest piece of furniture in the corner of your living room till you die and then your kids get rid of that old cupboard and just swipe away the long forgotten parts of your self with the rest of the dust. And  maybe that is just the way things should be. Continue reading

      3 Weeks post-op: Broken and delicate and growing stronger

      3 weeks. I can’t believe it’s 3 weeks already. And to be honest I don’t have much to tell.

      I have been doing… nothing really. Apart from growing bones and letting my wounds heal.  But maybe that is not “nothing”.

      2 weeks ago I came home to my parents place. I have a hospital bed in their living room, a recliner from my great aunt who died last September, as well as her wheelchair, and my grandma’s walker. I love it how my aunt seems to help me, reaching across the border of life and death.

      My days are… boring really. I spend the mornings in the recliner, pushing the backward- and forward-button a thousand times as I can’t sit in the same position for more that 10 minutes. My butt hurts. Yes sitting on broken bones hurts. And it freaks me out thinking of what my pelvis looks like under my skin. A puzzle of fractures and screws trying to settle and grow back together. Around noon a nurse comes to give me my daily shot of blood thinner. It’s hard to find much fat on my stomac (see it’s not always good to be skinny) to put the needle in and so these shots aren’t the most pleasant to me. After lunch I move to my bed cause I can no longer sit. And then I nap, watch Netflix (I’m still too exhausted to start reading, even though a bunch of wonderful books is waiting for me), nap some more and ask Daniel to help me out of bed to get to the bathroom. O my days are so exciting :cP Continue reading

      The PAO trail: Torture in order to heal

      ***PAO = Peri Acetabular Osteotomy***

      PAO trail – day zero: December 4th 2016:

      dsc_0423It’s 4 pm and I get into the car like a normal person for the last time. Today has been a day of “last times for a while”. I’m surprisingly calm when we take on the 2 hour drive to the hospital where my surgery will take place. We arrive shortly before 6pm, I get out and my stomac turns. The lady at the reception desk tells me where to go but I need to pee first. Another thing I won’t be doing on my own for a while. We arrive at the ortho unit, and it takes us a while till we find somebody who brings us to my room. I asked for a 2 person room, cause the one person rooms I just can’t afford. There’s no space left in a two person room, so they put me in a 3 person one, in the saddest place one can possible think of. Squeezed in between a closet and another sick person. No personal space what so ever, no window, absolute sadness. This must be the Harry Potter spot. Continue reading

      PAO surgery – Call for support!

      Dear All,
      In a few days (December 5th, 8am European time to be exact, midnight in California ;c)) my first surgery to treat my hip dysplasia is coming up. The surgery that will be performed is called a Periacetabular Osteotomy aka a PAO.

      Having hip dysplasia means the sockets of my hips are too shallow to properly cover the ball of my joint. This eventually results in early arthritis and pain 24/7. The pain has been debilitating in a way that not only I had to stop doing what I love on a regular basis, like hiking and doing sports, but also I can no longer sit or stand for more than 20 minutes, my range of motion is getting smaller, and over all the pain I’ve been living with the past 3 years is just exhausting for both my mind and my body.

      hip-x-rayhip-xray-jpeg

      Hip Dysplasia on both sides. The left one is worse though and is gonna be treated first.

      Continue reading

      As the world trembles

      I haven’t written for a while. And even though I am really longing for it, the moment I sit myself down in front of a blank page, a feeling of immense tiredness overcomes me. I wanna play with words, but I am to tired to play. I wanna create beauty, but the grief is much more present (which can be beauty too, I am aware of that). So many things going on, so many roads to travel, so many books to read and write and yet it seems like I can’t find the starting line.

      I want to plan hikes and I want to hike in the Sierra and in the desert and I want it to be summer already but there is no way to around winter, no way around surgery, the big dark monster slowly creeping up on me.

      There are so many things I wanna do and start, yet this monster forces me to stop, to take a break in a phase of my life where I don’t really want to stand still, where I wanna create, bring my gift to the world and be of service. Of course I know this darkness is gonna inform me, is gonna be woven into my story, will become a part of my service. The beast will dance with the beauty and when I come out on the other side of the mountain I will carry a bit of gold in my small hands. But for now, to be honest, I am fucking scared. That’s how it is. Continue reading