A "Stolen" Hike: McNeil Point

I’m back from a short hiatus from adventure photography, and determined to spend as much time as possible on the trails this Fall and Winter.

Here we are in mid-November, and Mt Hood has only seen a small dusting of snow. After checking the snow line this past weekend and seeing that it was mostly clear up to Government Camp, I took my dad up to one of my favorite local hikes: McNeil Point. It’s hard to believe that we still have access to this trail, which tops out over 6000 feet, at this point in the year. It felt like a stolen hike, and provided a solid physical challenge as well as outstanding views as always. Dad lives next to North Cascades, so it’s hard to impress him with a trail. But I think McNeil Point delivered.

The Tetons, By Automobile

After Jo’s brush with altitude sickness, we spent our final day in the Tetons seeing as much as we could from the car. We did a short hike/walk out to Phelps Lake, which was at the same altitude as the valley, but otherwise spent the rest of our time driving around the park, and drinking lots of Gatorade. This actually turned out to be a pretty good way to spot wildlife.

Tetons - Table Mountain

People usually behold the spectacle of the Teton range from the East looking West. But many never experience is the view from the other direction. To see it for ourselves, Jo and I climbed 4,000 feet over 7 miles to reach the 11,000’ summit of Table Mountain; an odd, flat mountaintop that puts you right next to the iconic range. We’d enjoyed Fall colors along the way, but nothing could prepare us for the view. It was truly jaw-dropping, and Joanna’s first time at 11,000’ feet.

On our way down, Jo found that she was not feeling very well. Her nausea progressed until hiking become an intolerable ordeal. We lay down a few times and took plenty of breaks, but then night began to fall and I pushed her hard to finish the hike, telling her every hiking story that I could think of at the top of my lungs to keep from startling any grizzly bears that were bedded down in the foliage along the trail. She was not very happy with me, but we made it to the trailhead. But even there, Joanna’s symptoms seemed to be worsening. It took a visit to the Emergency Room and a long night in a motel room before she began to show signs of her usual self. The following day, she expressed feeling what she called a “mountain hangover”.

A few days out, she’s joked that it was one of the most beautiful hikes she’s ever been on, followed by one of the most agonizing nights she can remember. Whichever part we end up looking back on, this is not a hike that we’ll be forgetting anytime soon!