South Side of Mount Hood

Dry Climates and Me

I can feel the air becoming drier as we hike further south into Oregon. No, seriously, my skin is reacting negatively to the lack of humidity in this region of the country. A little-known fact about me, I have a skin condition that causes painful rashes to present when I get too hot, as when wrestling or hiking. It’s easy enough to control at home, so much so that no one would really notice, but it has been a new challenge out here.

Last year’s Ice Age Trail hike through Wisconsin didn’t cause me any real problems because it’s so damn humid out there. It’s been a different story here on the west coast, where desert dominates the landscapes. What I have learned so far is that I cannot wear cotton or polyester. The best options I’ve found have been merino wool and Patagonia sun hoodies. These rashes are painful and even go so far as to create open sores that bleed. I did not know exactly how my body would react before I got here, am adjusting on the fly now that I’m learning.

As a Michigander, it’s difficult for me to understand what draws people to live in these super dry areas. If you add up the time I spent in the deserts of Pakistan, Kuwait, Idaho, and Colorado, I’ve spent a solid 5 years of my life in this type of climate (caveat: I would totally live in Colorado Springs again). Coming back to Michigan after a stay in the desert always feels like I’m walking into a Dairy Queen after 7 days on the trail. In Michigan, we have freshwater lakes surrounding us, great and small. We have regular weather events like thunderstorms and rain clouds. 

The forecast for this area of Oregon over the next 10 days is sun and more sun, dry and drier. This whole area is a tinderbox waiting for a spark. Fingers crossed for a healthy wildfire season.

Trial Details

Hiking southbound down the south side of Mount Hood was the easiest days we’ve had so far. Downhill and cool breezes made for happy days. The trail all around Mount Hood is beautifully maintained, and parts were even wide enough for us to walk side-by-side. Today was also the first time we’ve passed people on horses; much of the trail is available to both hikers and horse riders.

We will be jumping over the Lionshead fire closure tomorrow. Total miles missed will equal around 75. 

Without mentioning any names, I can say that we have passed several people who ignored the trail closure and just hike right through in a single day. No part of me wants to miss the beauty of Mount Jefferson, but it’s just not something Brianna and I are comfortable doing. Forcefully skipping miles on a long trail happens and ignoring closures would be us being selfish. Being selfish does the hiking community no favors. It’d be like pooping in the middle of someone else’s campsite while making direct eye contact with them – awkward and unnecessary.

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