One of the great blessings in life is a knowledgable friend who will tell it to you straight when you've screwed up. And who hangs in there, politely, gently, even when you insist that you haven't. My friend Doug the Mountain Climber (right) played this role for me yesterday as he corrected my post about that second mountain silhouette I saw from the fifth floor of the airport parking garage Thursday morning.
The peak I saw was a rounded dome with a point in the center, which I concluded must have been Mount Washington, based on views like this one. Doug kindly assured me, in a comment on the blog and again in an e-mail, that it had to have been Mount Jefferson. Here's what he said in the e-mail:
Off blog, there is simply no way what you saw from PDX was Mt. Washington. I'll give you the tax schtuff (most of it, anyway), but dibs on the local mountain thang -- I've summited Washington four or five times. The photo you referenced is taken from due west, approximately due east from Harrisburg and just a little south of Brownsville and Sweet Home (nearly 2 hours south on I-5). Washington's north-facing profile is actually quite sharp and does not look like a pinnacle atop a larger mountain. One cannot see Washington from the Salem area; Jefferson is tough enough. Just for fun, try flying south over the Cascades on Google Earth and see what you think. Between the high points in between PDX and the mountain, its relatively modest elevation, and the curvature of the earth over 100+ miles, there is simply no way for it to be visible from PDX at ground level.
From PDX, Jefferson is the likely choice, largely because it actually is visible from Portland under the right circumstances and because its northern profile fits your description. Attached are a couple of shots of Jeff from the north. The first is from ~9,000 on Mt. Hood, the second from "Jeff Park," a gorgeous area of alpine lakes at 6,000' just north of the mountain.
Sure enough, if you look at Doug's second picture, there is that dome with the spike in the middle that I had seen:
It's funny, because at my angle of view that morning, I didn't see the larger part of the mountain (left rear) at all. Only that pointed dome stood out black against the brilliant dawn sky.
As I write this, Doug's probably up prowling around on Mount Hood. I wish him a wonderful climb and an uneventful return.