The Biography of Mt. Hood

We always say that Juniper Ridge is Hall’s baby. But really, it goes back even further than that, back to Mount Hood, where Hall grew up, where he first fell in love with the power of wilderness. And to this day this rugged, perilous peak— Oregon’s greatest volcano— continues to inspire and inform a large part of the Juniper Ridge Wilderness Perfume portfolio.

From our Christmas Fir Collection to the Cascade Glacier line, to our Field Lab portfolio of Timberline Trail seasonal offerings, Mount Hood represents a wilderness experience that we come back to again and again, a series of epic stories we can’t wait to tell. For us, those stories are always told through scent, through sensual experiences designed to unlock the quiet beauty of a glacier, of a river, of the wind as it moves through wildflowers. But they’re rooted in a larger story that is the landscape itself and the history that formed it. We love being a small part of that bigger picture, so we thought we’d share a little of what makes Mount Hood so worth a lifetime of love.

Of course, you’re never looking at a single mountain. To explore the natural history of Mount Hood is to explore the Cascade Mountains as a whole, and in turn, the whole of the Pacific Northwest. Studying the tall tree forests of the Pacific Northwest is to study the way conifer forests move and change from one season, year, or even millennia to the next. The beautiful narrative of this ecology is the business of Juniper Ridge, and there is no better place to start than Mount Hood, or specifically, the Timberline trail.

Quick Facts: Mount Hood is 11,240’. It’s the highest peak in Oregon and the fourth tallest in the Cascade Range. The peak is home to twelve named glaciers and snowfields. Mount Hood is considered the Oregon volcano most likely to erupt, though based on its history, an explosive eruption anytime soon is unlikely. Before its colonized history— having been first described by Lewis and Clark and later named for naval officer Alexander Hood— the old, indigenous name for the peak was Wy’east. The Timberline Trail was constructed in the 1930’s and wraps around the mountain for just under 41 miles. Its highest point is at Lamberson Spur at 7,300 ft and its lowest is 3,240 ft. It shares eleven miles with the Pacific Crest Trail on the mountain’s western face.

But long before the volcanos of the Cascades took their ragged, skyward shapes, a mass of ice nearly a half-mile thick blanketed Oregon from Mount Hood, south to Mount Mcloughlin. Then, about 700,000 years ago, the mountain we know as Hood began a long period of consistent and major eruptions, slowly forming a mountainous skyline. 600,000 years later, the largest of these eruptions blew the mountain apart and buried most of the Hood River Valley, followed by a retreat of the ice sheet 75,000 years later that left the landscape as we know it today.

Mount Hood only has about 15% of its original old-growth forests, but now, with its nearly 200,000 acres of federally protected wilderness, the forests of Mount Hood have a chance to rebound over the next century. That is unless we continue to see the type of drought conditions we saw in 2015, the worst drought in over 20 years. Water, or lack of it, is the single most important factor in the retreat and advance of Mount Hood’s conifer forests.

Even so, the incredible, natural wealth of the region around the mountain is undeniable. The great diversity of the old (over 150 years) and new forests of the place comes from the nearly twenty different species of conifers that make up the forest network— the Christmas trees: pine, fir and cedar. To really dig into what each of these words means, we recommend checking out the Latin; common names don’t help much. Douglas fir isn’t a true fir and western red cedar is not in the same plant family as Alaskan cedar, begging the question, what are common names even good for?

Below the conifers, there are well over 300 plants, shrubs, mushrooms, berries and wildflowers that make up the forest understory. Each year, we at Juniper Ridge explore a different facet of this rich forest in the formulation of our Timberline Trail Wilderness Perfume. The truth is, we could spend the next hundred years making a thousand different perfumes from this verdant paradise and still not touch all the possible combinations. In this year’s harvest we’ve included the little yellow flowers of Greene’s Goldenweed (Ericameria greenei), Mountain Yarrow (Achillea millefolium), and Goldenrod (Solidago lepida), along with conifer samples of the forest itself: spruce needle, noble fir oil, subalpine fir pitch, extractions of wolf lichen, various mosses, and even distilled infusions of glacial silt.

Building a perfume that honors all of this, that reflects the living history of Mount Hood, is how we honor our roots, both as a company and as wilderness freaks. In John Muir’s words, Mount Hood is “the pride of Oregonians,” their “mountain of mountains… the ruling spirit of the landscape.” Visible from hundreds of miles around, seeing it always reminds us of the thousands of 19th century settlers it must have guided through the last leg of their journey westward and the powerful history it has as a source of inspiration, right up through the present.

What better way to express the helpless kind of love we have for this mountain and these forests than to listen and learn from their seasonal ecologies and their deep narrative histories? The forests move and nothing remains the same. Read the mountain. Interact with Nature.