Friday, July 12, 2013

Silver Star Mountain via Ed's Trail

This week our family went on an epic, memory-making adventure to Silver Star Mountain.  Hiking books are like real estate listings.  If you read enough of them, you start to pick up on The Code: fancy wording that covers up potential pitfalls.  When I was scoping for a hike, Silver Star Mountain via Ed's Trail really caught my eye.  It sounded incredible, but The Code signified that this would not be a hike I could take the kids on by myself.  We would need Curt's Man Power to get us there and back safely.  We also would need to have the "obey or you could die" talk with the kids.

Let me give you a few examples.
1.  The Road to the Trailhead
      ***  Hiking Books say:  "The road to the trailhead became so degraded that a high clearance vehicle is required," and "The trailhead is at the end of this narrow, bumpy road."
     ***  Translation:  "This death-defying, single lane trail through the woods masquerades as a two-lane, Forest Service road.  Be prepared for car-swallowing pot holes, steep inclines,  a ton of white knuckle, handle grabbing, and desperate prayers for safety."  
a wider section of the road on the way back 
I may be exaggerating slightly, but not much.  The junctions between Forest Service roads are marked with spray paint on trees.  The few times we passed cars coming the other direction, we had to fold our mirrors in and back down the steep terrain to find an opening wide enough for two cars to squeeze by each other.  It took us one full hour to travel nine miles to the trailhead on this road.  By the time we arrived Curt and I had some gray hairs and the girls had a collection of leaves they'd pulled off the tree branches that smacked their faces through the window.  The road to the trailhead is a huge deterrent for us ever going back.

2.  The Safety of the Trail
     ***  Hiking books say:  "There is a short steep section on Ed's Trail that requires a bit of scrambling where a slip could be very dangerous.  Avoid this route when wet or icy," and "The trail takes off up the ridge face, becoming nearly a climb in spots as you scramble up through the rocks to a view of two-humped Silver Star up ahead.  Dramatic, huh?"
    *** Translation:  "Ed's Trail is a narrow, single file path that traverses the ridge top of  a mountain with relatively steep drop offs into gorgeous mountain meadows the entire way.  If that didn't make you nervous, the hand over foot climb up the ridge face will make you appreciate your safety when you reach the top."
Ed's Trail approaching the ridge we hiked along

my family hiking

climbing up the steep scramble
I wasn't exaggerating on the width of the trail or the scramble portion of the hike.  There were definitely a few elements of this hike where a mis-step could cause serious injury.  However...

This hike was I N C R E D I B L E!!!!!!!!!  It seriously felt like we were on an adventure that people would pay thousands of dollars to achieve.  

The kids were less than thrilled with the idea of a hike as our Sabbath.  The hike starts off with a little bit of a steep incline and we definitely fielded some initial whining.  But once we started on Ed's Trail, the beauty, vastness, and awesomeness (now I'm making up words) overwhelmed even the grouchiest child.  No one could believe that we were traversing the top of a mountain ridge on a narrow footpath.  All whining stopped as we were filled with wonder that such a place really existed.
the start of Ed's Trail was just up from this viewpoint

look at the cloud casting a shadow on the mountain

there were some big mountain peaks hiding in the clouds behind the kids and Curt.  
The trail was seldom smooth so we alternated between carefully choosing each step and taking time to take in the views from 360 degrees.  Most of the Washington peaks (St. Helens and Rainer) were hiding in clouds, but Mt. Hood was illuminated in a celestial glow the entire time we were hiking.  It was crazy beautiful!
Katie and Curt are standing on the trail here even though it looks like they're about to vanish into thin air.
Mt. Hood shining through the clouds
We hiked through a natural rock arch and took a resting break in a little cave just past the arch.  The scramble up the rock face, while dangerous, was actually really fun.  Even Paige thought it was cool.
the rock arch
A cloud bank rolled in while we were hiking.  By the time we reached what was supposed to be the most awe-inspiring view of the hike we were socked in by the clouds.  The temperature dropped at least ten degrees and we could feel the damp moisture of the clouds on our exposed skin.  Talk about a surreal experience!
we had just walked through those clouds in the background

here's where the sun was trying to come out

sisters - I love this photo
We looped back on the other side of the ridge, using the wider and safer old Jeep trail to take us back to our car.  The sun tried hard to burn off the clouds and we enjoyed the show:  clouds swirling and dancing, sunlight peeking through then completely disappearing.  Wild flowers of all shapes, sizes and colors consumed the meadows and even the craggy rock faces.
Mt. Hood played peek-a-boo with us the entire hike

flowers, vast mountains, and a big bank of clouds

My only regret was not having time to meander.  We didn't plan for the last nine miles of driving to take an hour so we arrived at the trailhead at 5 p.m.  The hiking books give this hike a three hour average time allotment which meant we had no time to waste if we wanted to hike and get back off that hideous road before darkness fell. 

I would love to come back and do Ed's Trail again on a day when all the mountains are out to play.  I'm just not sure we want to tackle that road again.  This may be our one and only trip to Silver Star Mountain.  Thank you Jesus that it was an awesome adventure.


  1. Hi Jodi! Glad to have stumbled upon your blog! I was wondering if you feature guest postings. Thanks and have a great day!

    1. Hi Hannah. I don't do guest posts. This blog is just my reflections about life and my family.