Lisa, that is awesome! Mt. Hood is so amazing; I'll be up there, myself, all summer, bagging the rest of the trails that connect to Timberline Trail. It's the closest place that offers above-treeline views and actual geothermal activity. I'll be scoping out fumeroles as I hike. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fumarole
Regarding summiting Mt. Hood: know how to tell when you are ready to summit something? When it seems like the most natural thing in the world to do and you are so excited, you look forward to it constantly. If your mind is mostly filled with fear and what-if's, you're not in the sweet spot yet. When you get to the place of "I was MADE to do this! Why haven't I done this earlier?" you know you're there. You can get someone else to teach you climbing technique but only you can train you mentally, and trust me, that's the biggest part of scaling a mountain. Ain't nothing like standing on that summit, girl! You're gonna love it! Woo-HOO!
Plenty of good stuff to do on Hood in the meantime--as soon as they open up Cloud Cap Road to vehicles this spring, get up to Cooper Spur and hang out as much as you can at elevation. It will condition your body as well as acclimate your mind to that kind of topography. When it feels "normal" to be hangin' out with eagles and glaciers and rocky precipices, it'll be an easy walk over to the wilder side. Barrett Spur is another fun little pointy spot that you can get to from Elk Cove Trail, Pinnacle Ridge Trail, or Vista Ridge Trail. The roads for those will suck for a while yet, though. If you can get to the Sisters, I have a lot of friends who like to train there, too. Then, there's always the ultimate, Smith Rock. http://www.smithrock.com/
Thanks Baby Herc! Sounds like you have some awesome hikes planned out for this summer! I am not sure if I am quite at the sweet spot yet, unfortunately. I need some more time to get in better shape I think to not have the "can I really haul my fat ass up a mountiain?" thoughts. If they do the trip again next year I will be ready for it though! I really want to move out the Pacific NW sometime, to have all that amazing stuff out in your backyard to play in would be so cool! Ocean and mountains, doesn't get better than that. But its not like I lose if I don't go on the Mt. Hood trip, the other option is a week long kayaking trip down the Main Salmon River in Idaho, so still an amazing trip!