FKT: Brannon Forrester - Mt Hood Circum & Summit (OR) - 2022-08-29

Route variation
Standard route
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Total time
12h 20m 29s

Incredible weather for a Mt. Hood tour de force!  Tons of wildflowers, and clear skies gave incredible views of Hood from all sides.

I started from Timberline at 4.21am and jogged up the service road towards the ski lift.  I didn't have to put on crampons (Black Diamond Contacts; highly recommended, as they work great over running shoes or mountain boots once you size them correctly, and I have never had them come off) until around the Triangle Moraine.  There was a well traveled ramp onto the Hogsback.  The large bergschrund below the Pearly Gates forced me way to the left, scrambling up an exposed rock slope until I could hit the snow again to ascend the Old Chute, with just a little bit of bare choss to scramble at the exit.  That early in the morning it was perfect, icy in spots but mostly just good consolidated snow.  Later would be a bad idea, as there were tons of rocks in the snow and fresh rock tracks from falling debris.  I hit the summit right at sunrise for a glorious couple of minutes, then downclimbed the Chute, sidestepped my way to the Moraine, took off my crampons and jogged/scree-skied my way back to the car.

I tried to keep the pace tame for the peak, averaging 158 BPM on the ascent, but the vertical still beat up my legs a bit.  I took 7min 30sec to change out my gear at my car and then started running the Timberline trail at about 7:44am.  Being my first time on this trail, I was blown away!  After the rocky and technical Sierra trails, this was vacation running at it's best!  Soft and sandy, incredible grades where it was never crazily steep going up or down.  Incredibly runnable in other words.  I would love to come back and do just the trail with fresh legs!

The river crossings were a bit crap, as they are blown out every spring, and so the trail suddenly disappears at the edge of the drainage, and it is mostly choose your own adventure across.  With some rock hopping, it is fairly easy to keep your feet dry, but the very last one I was over it and just waded across!  Finding the trail on the other side always took some time, and by the Elliot Bench Creek I lost it completely and had to bushwack back to the trail on a steep slope, bloodying my knee in a fall along the way.  Gaia GPS is a phenomenal app that I highly recommend for this and any other area in which you are not familiar.  I rechecked my route many times along the way, as there are quite a few unmarked camper's trails.

My left hamstring was tight at the beginning of the run and slowly got worse, until around 25 miles into the trail I wasn't sure if it was going to blow up entirely.  At points I was fully limping, pushing my hands down on my right thigh in what I call my Power Limp!  I was able to rally and shuffle jog whenever I could (again, incredibly runnable, even on many of the uphills), and finish somewhat strong to bring it solidly under 13 hours.  As soon as I stopped my left leg locked up, and I quickly became the walking wounded!

Fantastic day out though, and an incredibly beautiful course.  The wildflowers were still popping, and Hood looked amazing from every angle!

I brought a Katadyn BeFree 1L filter bag, but there are so many small, crystal clear streams popping right out of the mountain side, coming so obviously from snowmelt and being filtered through the volcanic rock, I just filled directly up from these along the way.  I felt fine and still feel fine. :-)  The only dry section was up the last few climbs to Timberline (about the last 8 miles).

The stats:

To the summit: 2:06

The descent: 1:07

Changing gear: 7.5 minutes

Timberline split: about 8:58

This could definitely go well under 12! I think July after a normal snow year (this year was heavy) would allow you to crampon up sooner and avoid the scree slog, and glissade a lot of the way down.  And the Timberline is just so damn runnable!