Reading books about Oregon is one of the many ways I develop my own sense of place here. So, I try to choose books that capture other people’s experiences as well as the history and natural phenomena that make Oregon so special.
Recently I finished reading On Mount Hood: A Biography of Oregon’s Perilous Peak by Jon Bell (2011). As I said before, Mt. Hood is MY mountain, so everything I learn about it fascinates me. This book is an easy read – accessible and personal – and a quick lesson about the marvels and perils of the most summited peak in the world.
I connected immediately to his story from his very first sentence…
Mount Hood is not a story that I intentionally set out to know. It’s one that instead has slowly been built for me since the first time I laid eyes on the mountain.
Bell weaves the story of his own 41-mile trip around Hood on the Timberline Trail into a fascinating tale of volcanic eruptions, melting glaciers, waterfalls, forests, heroes and heartache as he reveals the mystery and magic that is Mt. Hood. He did his homework – researching documents and events and meeting face-to-face with people whose lives were changed by Mt. Hood.
From the Mazamas to the building of Timberline Lodge to the chilling accounts of lives lost on the mountain, Bell captures beautifully the spirit of the mountain and the people who love it.
I’ve been toying with the idea of hiking the Timberline Trail all the way around Mount Hood. It seems like a rite of passage for someone who wants to make Oregon their home. After reading this book, I’m more convinced I should do it. In the afterward, Bell explains…
After eight years of exploring Mount Hood, climbing it, camping around it, paddling the lakes at its base…I felt like I knew the mountain pretty well. But something about ticking off the Timberline Trail made me look at Mount Hood in a different way…
This is what “sense of place” is all about…knowing a place through time and experience. Seeing it from a perspective that is yours and your alone. Understanding it through seasons, terrain, weather, plants, animals and spirit.
For anyone who loves Mount Hood, this book will add to your own experience and knowledge and inspire you to spend more time with the mountain.