Adventures in Oregon: Mirror Lake

‘You only need one ray of light to chase all the shadows away.’-Fredrik Backman

Things I have learned this summer…summer in Bend lasts about three weeks and during those weeks, it hovers around a hundred degrees. It’s a Catch-22 because I’ve discovered that I need more weeks of it being warm but that it allows me to hike so much more. It finally cooled off enough for me to hit a new trail…Mirror Lake Trail Loop as part of the Mt. Hood National Forest. This particular trail is one of the most popular in the region and for a good reason…it’s a workout and stunning! You can see a reflection of Mt. Hood in the lake but it doesn’t look crystal clear like in a lot of stock photos. Trillum Lake also has a reflection and I’m planning on hitting that in the coming weeks, so I will let you know.

Mirror Lake is about two hours from me and it is a straight shot. I use AllTrails to get directions but Mirror Lake was also on my regular Apple Maps…so easy!The turn before the lake is the famed Timberline Lodge, the setting for the film ‘The Shining.’ Since I was there, I decided to check it out. So you know in the movie, how it’s super isolated…well, that is incorrect. It is a year round outdoorsman paradise. As the walls came crashing in, Jack and the family probably could have just asked a snowmobiler for a ride out or taken the ski lift. Due to the massive (!!!!) amount of people there and a bit of a chaotic scene, I only saw a bit of the lodge. I’ll try again…maybe!

Parking is tight at the entry point but I was able to find a spot fairly easily. I was a bit concerned that, due to the popularity of the trail, I would spend most of the hike in my mask (Oregon has mandatory face masks if physical distancing is not possible even outside-which I’m grateful for as the county I live in, even as a tourist mecca, has very low case numbers). But it wasn’t a problem. I had my mask in my pocket and just covered my mouth when people passed on the narrower trails points. I will say, make sure you wear proper shoes. I love (!!!) my Danner Trail 2650 and the traction is amazing. The trail up is steep at some points and rocky (it is rated moderate) and I could have used a bit more ankle support (Danner makes these shoes as a higher profile and am considering upgrading to those…I only wear the Trail shoes during the summer months and will use my Danner Cascades once it gets a bit colder).

The trail is a loop (which you know I love) and so easy to navigate! It is about 2 miles in and 2 miles out. The loop around the lake (more like a pond) is about half a mile. The hike in is mostly up hill with a rise in elevation of about 750 feet. It is mostly shaded with peaks of sunlight. Some parts, it looks like the forest is on fire due to the radiance off some of the red wood tree stumps (I don’t know if they are actually redwoods or just red wood…I don’t know much about trees lol). I wore a t-shirt and shorts but had my trusty fleece from my dad and wore that a few times.

Once you reach the top, you come across the lake and the loop around. You can go right or left. To the right, you’ll walk through a field of flowers and wow! Cue the Tom Petty! The pathway is tight and was glad it wasn’t too crowded as there would be zero physical distancing! There are a couple points to see the reflection of Mt. Hood on the lake. One was crowded with a family but I was able to still get a shot or two and another plank to walk out on. I simply just waited my turn. Further along the path, I found the most lovely spot. I sat on a log, alone on the beach, and ate a cliff bar. My therapist and I have been working on my staying in the moment. I have a tendency to allow my mind to wander and begin incessant planning/worrying. The tool is to take a few minutes and just feel the world around you. How you physical space feels, the sounds around you, the movement of your breath. It’s worked really well. I was joined by a couple of chipmunks and I think they felt my calm! I sat there for about 30 minutes just taking it all in.

It was a really wonderful day and much needed as I had a really frustrating week. I really miss my Saturdays in New York but am so incredibly grateful for days like this, especially in a world that feels so overwhelming! Now to figure out where my next Sunday on the Trails will be! If you have recommendations, please let me know via comment or my Instagram!

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