Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Mirror Lake to Tom, Dick and Harry Summit Hike

The fam at the summit of Tom, Dick and Harry Mountain (yes really...)
My poor husband has been sick for three weeks so we've been canceling plans left and right and practicing laying low.  He's finally feeling better so we went on a family hike today to Mirror Lake - our last big outing before school starts.

One good thing about Mirror Lake is easy access to the trailhead.  The trailhead is literally right off Highway 26 before Mt. Hood Meadows.  You turn a corner as you're climbing the mountain and BOOM.  There's the trailhead parking.  The fact that the trailhead parking is on the side of a highway is also kind of bad.  It's pretty dangerous to get in and out of the parking area and it's usually very crowded.  A Northwest Forest Pass is required to park at the trailhead.  Or you can drive down to the next pull-out on the highway, park for free, and walk back to the trailhead.

There is no drinking water at the trailhead or on the trail.  Pack in your own water and/or bring a filter and filter it from the lake.  The trailhead has two outhouses and my advice is to not go near them.  They were almost overflowing and clearly hadn't been serviced in a long time.  BRING YOUR OWN TOLIET PAPER and pee in the woods.

The hike to Mirror Lake is only 1.4 miles (2.8 round trip).  It's a steady incline through thick and beautiful forest all the way to the lake. The grade of the incline isn't steep though.  Our hiking book rated this portion of the hike as easy, but I'd say it falls more into the easy-to-moderate category.
Sisters taking a break
We brought our dog Dusty with us today, something we only do on occassion when we're hiking.  She's a bit of a prima donna (I think she secretly thinks she's a human) and doesn't have a lot of experience in the wilderness so we choose carefully the hikes we bring her on.  This one was great because the trail was wide enough for her to not trip us or other hikers and she loved saying hi to all the other dogs and hikers on the trail.
Yep - she's cute!
Mirror Lake is smaller than I expected, but is quiet, quaint and really serene.  Newly built staircases branch out from the main hiking trail, leading hikers down to the water's edge. The lake is shallow with a muddy bottom. Wading close to shore was kind of dirty, but the kids who went all in loved swimming out into the relatively shallow lake.  Mirror Lake also has some camp sites on the bluff around the perimeter of the lake, making it a prime spot for a quick and easy backpacking trip.
Rock pile at one of the trail switchbacks
We took a short snack break on the water's edge and continued our hike on the Tom, Dick and Harry trail. It's another 1.8 miles (3.6 miles round trip) of a steady, uphill climb to the summit.  This portion of the hike is rated moderate. There is a really great viewpoint on a rocky ledge about halfway up the mountain that gives a little teaser of the views that await at the summit.
viewpoint about halfway to the summit.
The summit was super rocky - some of them jagged and pointy, others round and smooth like recliners - and it provided awesome views of Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Hood (that was cloaked in cloud cover today), Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainer (also in cloud cover), and the foothills around all these big peaks.  It also has a bird's eye view of Mirror Lake which looks itty bitty from way up top.  If you look really closely you can see hikers walking around the edge of Mirror Lake.
Mt. Hood and Mirror Lake
Mt. Jefferson
Alli and the foothills around us
Mirror Lake - look closely.  Can you see the hikers on the trail?
Bird's eye view of the lake
It was a pretty sweet spot to take a little rest. Curt, Dusty, Katie and Paige snuggled into a rounded out rock facing Mt. Hood.  Grant went exploring and chucked giant rocks off the summit.  Alli explored for a while and then snuggled up with the rest of the family.  We all enjoyed the cooling breeze and the beautiful view.
Grant throwing rocks
Family Resting Spot 
We stopped at the lake again on the way back down.  Grant and Alli swam out into the lake to retrieve a giant log then floated it all over the lake while Katie and Paige played on the shore.  The girls made a new friend who asked her mom if they could hike back to our cars with us, so they did.  They were Russian and taught us how to say "Hi" in Russian.
Grant and Alli on a log they floated around the lake
Both hikes combined totaled 6.4 miles, but this hike didn't feel terribly long because the lake broke up our journey on the way up and the way back.  Some of our children (who will remain nameless to protect their identity) whined and complained quite a bit in the first hour, but that was a personal choice and not because this trail was too hard for them. Mirror Lake is a great hike for kids in elementary school and older because there aren't any dangerous parts, but it requires having some endurance if you want to hike all the way to the top.

If you go, have your kids carry their own backpack stocked with water, a change of clothes and a towel, a whistle and garbage bag in case they get lost, and more snacks than you think they will need. They get thirsty and hungry in the woods.  Watch your step on the trail.  It's easy to trip over rocks and tree roots.  Finally, there was a wasp nest just off the edge of the trail about 1/3 of mile into our hike.T he wasps were dive bombing and stinging hikers but we made it through unscathed.  Thank you Jesus since Katie is allergic to bees.
Another great adventure
Happy hiking!

No comments:

Post a Comment