Mt. Hood ho!

The peak of Mt. Hood

Saturday reaffirmed why I chose to study geology. I went on a field trip to Mt. Hood with my geo 318 class in order learn how to identify glacial deposits and see the glaciers themselves. It was a fantastic trip. It was my first time to visit the dormant volcano in the three and a half years that I’ve lived here. As I had tweeted earlier, I truly wasn’t prepared for the sweeping views of the valley beneath us. Nor was I prepared for the decreased amount of oxygen available at 6000 ft above sea level. However, I survived the altitude sickness with nothing worse than a slight head ache. Not bad for my first time at that altitude outside of an airplane.

As was to be expected, the trip was a huge learning experience for me. When you’re taking a geology course, there is only so much the book can teach. The lectures and my text book gave me an idea of what a lateral and medial moraine looked like, but it wasn’t reinforced until I got onto the mountain and saw them first hand. The same can be said for glacial till, the polished boulders, the U-shaped valleys down below and the glaciers themselves. You can be an arm chair geologists all you want, but nothing makes sense nor coalesces into reality until you’ve seen it and touched it.

Glacial Till- My blog's namesake!

Undoubtedly, the glaciers had to be my favorite part of this whole trip. Since it was the end of Summer, their glory could only be seen in the immense moraines that were deposited on their gravity induced trip down the mountain. Come Winter, I may plan a trip back to Timberline to see the glaciers in their snow-bloated glory. After we hiked to about 8100 ft, some fellow students and I decided the quickest way back was to walk (or in some cases, slide) down the glacier. Was it the safest thing to do? Probably not. I’ll admit to having the occasional vision of a wall of snow, ice, and rock come roaring at me. But it was so much fun. There is nothing cooler than to say “I played on a glacier”.

As I reread my post and proofread it, I realize that this one sounds a bit romanticized.  Was it all fun and games? No. I ran out of water on the way down and got a nice little sunburn on my face, neck and arms. On some areas of the hike, we literally climbed our way up fine silt deposits. The stuff is easy to sink into and isn’t friendly to those trying to go over it. However, those were minor annoyances compared to what I learned and that reaffirmation of my love for geology. Chemists can keep their beakers and physicists their particle colliders. I’ll keep my rock hammer and stick to the great outdoors.

glacially polished boulder

I have more pictures from the trip. Once I get the album organized and put the captions in, I’ll add the link to this post.

8 thoughts on “Mt. Hood ho!

  1. Wow. The class hiked up to 8100 feet from Timberline Lodge? That’s a more significant hike than I’ve ever been asked to do in a Geology class. Did you guys ride up to the Silcox Hut on the lifts to take some of the elevation gain out of it?

    Not that I’d be unwilling to do a hike with 2100 feet elevation gain for class… I do that on the weekends a lot. But whenever I’ve been in a field studies class, there’s always been a significant contingent of the students who whine if we walk more than 50 yards from the van.

    Anyway, sounds like a great class! I love Mount Hood at this time of year. I’m not a big snow sports person, so I like it when the hiking trails are all open. 🙂

    • I think some of the students used the lifts. The group I was with hiked both up and down the mountain. Surprisingly there wasn’t a lot of complaining, even with the altitude adjustment. No one was required to hike up to the 8100 ft mark. It was pretty much a self guided tour and only a few of us made it to the “top”. It was a lot of fun, but very tiring. I’m still feeling it in my thighs lol

  2. Did your class hike all the way to the top of Mt. Hood? I’ve never been to Mt. Hood, so maybe that’s not as intense as it sounds, but…
    Learning in class really is different than learning out of class: indoor learning has breadth and depth, but outdoor learning has a physicality that seems necessary when studying rocks. Luckily, geology unites both those aspects!

  3. Oh, honey. We really need to get you up on Mt. Rainier sometime! Glaciers galore, and some of the most spectacular scenery you’ll ever see. Let me know if you ever make it up Seattle way, and I’ll swing you by there.

  4. Hello,
    It’s just a thought, but you might want to change the name of your blog. Till is a glacial diamict, and using the words “glacial till” is quite redundant and a pet peeve of many professors…..

    M, PhD Candidate, glacial geology

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