When I think of Portland, Oregon, I think of the Willamette River, which runs the length of the entire state like a major freeway. A ground level experience. For some reason, I never realized that if I looked up, Mt. Hood looms much larger in its legend, until I recently went to visit a friend in a little town outside Beaverton, just down the road from Portland. You can say it -- apparently I'm geographically challenged. We were coming up the country road, about to turn into the driveway of my friend's house, when someone in the car said, "Look, you can see Mt. Hood today."
From the back seat I looked out at a hazy collection of low slung hills and wondered which one might be considered a mountain. There's a bump, maybe that's it. My standards were too low it turns out. I continued scanning the horizon half-heartedly, until I was stopped cold by the sudden appearance of a snowcapped mountain peak. A huge snowcapped mountain peak, rising up 11,000 feet from sea level it turns out, heading straight to the sky.
We do not have one of these in Chicago.
I wanted to get a picture but there wasn't time, so I put it off until the next day. By then the clouds and rain, which seemed like a daily ritual around there, had settled in and ruined my chances. Until I met one of my friend's neighbors at a soiree. She offered to send me a photo she took from her house of the sunrise over Mt. Hood, since the weather wasn't cooperating for me. Because her view is almost the same as the view my friend has, I asked her to send it. Lucky me, she sent two photos: the promised one taken at sunrise; and one that looked a lot like what I first saw from the back seat of the car, if you used a telephoto lens.
That is one huge piece of granite.
NOTE: The thoughtful woman who sent the photos offered this interesting piece of information after reading my blog: ...I know you were just speaking metaphorically about "one huge piece of granite". Mt. Hood is a dormant volcano, and so it isn't granite but mostly andesitic basalt and there are still fumaroles emitting steam, although the last eruptions were in 170-220 years ago. It is one of the volcanoes of the Cascade Range, like Mt. St. Helens, which erupted in 1980. It is a spectacular mountain and great for downhill and cross country skiing, hiking, camping, and fishing. Mt. Hood also has Timberline Lodge, a National Historic Landmark, built by the WPA in the 30's...