JAN 5, 2014 Wow! Let’s just say today’s Starway Trailhead hike was a workout.  Worked my butt and hamstrings all the way up and my quads all the way down. It was a 9.8 (round trip) mile hike. I’d say about 5 of those miles were straight up! With an elevation gain of almost 3000 feet, whew! I love hard hikes like this, especially when there’s such a beautiful pay off at the end.  It’s usually just Kevin and I but I had the joy of hiking with two more friends today too! To best describe it from it is one of the best 360-degree summits within a day’s drive of Portland, boasting a rocky, exposed viewpoint of five major cascade volcanoes.

_MG_4292Before we get to the hike, I just wanted to share this photo I took at a viewpoint we stopped at.  I am not usually a morning person but I had the joy of seeing all the frost sprinkled around Oregon this morning.  We stopped to view this waterfall and check out the scenery. No picture of the waterfall but I liked this photo, so wanted to share. The rocks were coated in ice and it was absolutely gorgeous! Next time I’ll get a better shot of the falls.

_MG_4307 _MG_4296Back to back, a few photos after we cleared some of the uphill battle. It gave us a little reprieve and was OH SO WORTH IT! My goal as a photographer is to eventually get good enough so I can share these amazing places I visit. These pictures really give it no justice.

_MG_4319This is one of my old friends Cassie! She owns a really awesome shop on Hawthorne called MagBig, go check it out if you’re ever shopping in Portland. Couldn’t help but steal a portrait with my 35mm and her beautiful coloring. Love you Cass!

_MG_4330There is no better feeling than reaching the Summit. But..this isn’t the Summit, yet! However, it meant the end of the consistent steep climb upwards. I can see why they named it the Starway, you literally feel like you’re walking straight up into the heavens the whole hike up.  Let me tell you, it sure felt like it too.

_MG_4332See all the dead flowers? I’m not sure what they are called but the trail head description says that “it is also a great wildflower area in the spring, and has tons of huckleberries in the fall. Further, there are enough unique and sometimes fanciful rock outcrops along your journey that you’ll wish you brought a geologist along!” I definitely want to come back and do this hike in the Spring. I can’t even begin to imagine how gorgeous it is with all those colors.

_MG_4340I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I get when I see snow. I LOVE hiking in it (such a Florida girl.) I love how it looks, the glisten from the sun, the crunch under my feet. It’s just so magical.  I squealed when we got a bit higher because it was everywhere. There were a few more uphill climbs after the wild flower fake summit.  At one point we had to hike straight up in the snow and hold onto trees so we wouldn’t slide down.  Felt very adventurous today!

_MG_4345I feel like I’m really getting good at photography again. I do enjoy editing photos but there quite a few here today that I honestly didn’t even feel needed tweaking and this was one of them.  This was the view as we climbed up a pretty steep snowy pass. If I looked above me I could see my hiking buddies already at the top twirling around.  I couldn’t wait to get to the Summit but had to stop and take in the beauty of the snow first.

_MG_4361Once at the top you could see 5 volcanoes/mountains including Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helens.  The view was absolutely breathtaking. I felt like I was in another country, or a REI ad.  I can’t tell you how worth it these long/hard hikes are. The sense of accomplishment and prized views are totally worth every moment. We enjoyed our lunches with a million dollar view, frozen fingertips and stolen photos of the world we are so blessed to live in (no editing.)

_MG_4367Kevin was our driver today as well as navigator for the trail head. I don’t know how we forgot to ask our friends to take a picture of us together. I was kicking myself all evening for forgetting to ask! Grrrrr…..maybe once our GoPro arrives we can manage more couples photos.

_MG_4402 _MG_4388“Let us step into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, adventure.”
J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince