Trail Stories

Markael's Marys Peak Story

Marys Peak is a place of raw beauty. On a clear day, the view from the top reaches over 150 miles to Mount Rainier, with the high Cascade peaks lined up to the east and the Pacific Ocean delineating the western horizon. The mountain pierces through the lower layers of the atmosphere and often experiences different weather than the valleys below. It is usually colder on the summit, but in winter inversions the trend can reverse. Once, in the middle of a week of freezing fog in the valley, I drove as high as I could, switched to skis, and emerged into 60-degree sunshine. There is often snow on the mountain from December through April, though in warm years it may be bare even in midwinter. Deep snows and high winds keep the summit meadows clear of trees, providing both unobstructed views and an amazing diversity of native wildflowers. In June the wildflowers are at their peak, and the booming call of the spruce grouse echoes through the evening air.

I’ve been on the mountain at least 50 times during my five years in Corvallis. I’ve hiked, biked, or skied all of the trails, camped in the campground, and learned many of the trees and wildflowers. I’ve experienced hurricane-force winds, blizzards, endless plays of cloud formations, and warm still days without a wisp of cloud or a breath of wind. I’ve watched the sun rise over the Cascades and set into the Pacific, as the shadow of the peak stretches to infinity. Still I believe the mountain has more to show me, if I continue to visit with open eyes and a sense of wonder.

Markael LuterraHiker and Mountain Biker, Corvallis