We hiked out to Yocum Ridge to see the water cycle happen. As learning goes in our household, our son is a highly visual, kinesthetic learner. To do the science of nature, he likes to be in it.
Yocum Ridge is literally less than 1 hour from the summit of Mt. Hood. It is a 15 mile hike round trip and a 3,600 foot elevation gain. At 7.5 miles, 3,600 seems so very minor. That is until you realize the last 3 miles are over 2000 of those feet and the next day my thighs were definitely feeling it! The Barracuda did it in stride, though, and now not only has seen the transformations of water, but better understands the concept of preserving a watershed.
As you begin hiking you are in the foreground of the mountain you will be climbing and the glacier is large enough you can watch yourself get closer to it. You literally follow the tributary of the Sandy river, back up Ramona Falls, and finally get to the Yocum Ridge trail to begin hitting switchbacks till you get to the alpine meadows of Yocum Ridge.
From the ridge you can witness the glacier cleave into a crevasse and travel down the mountain to create the water we drank, the rivers we crossed, and plants we identified. The scale is mammoth. As we slept we heard the cracking ice of the glacier cleaving off all night and the thundering of the ice falling hundreds of feet below.
The nights are crisp and clear up on the mountain (in the low teens) so the stars really come out to further our child's wonder. It is important to us that he experience the world on a level to which he realizes the city is a bit of a burn on the landscape. We want him to realize that nature exists in spite of the work human's have done against it and in fact, it still nurtures them. It is hard to leave a place like this without feeling humbled.