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The best Mount Hood sledding for 2016

Last year, it was all we could do to find a little snow for sledding. This year, thankfully, that’s not the case.

According to state hydrologists, we’ve already exceeded last year’s snowpack, and it’s only January.

That’s good news for skiers, snowboarders and sledders, who’ve been flocking to Mount Hood to partake. We did as much last weekend on an annual sledding foray to White River.

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While there was plenty of traffic, there was also plenty of snow, and that’s really all that mattered.

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Here’s a list of some of the best sledding spots on Mount Hood for 2016.

  • White River Sno-Park — About 4 miles north of US 26 on Oregon 35 just south of Mt. Hood Meadows, the White River Sno-Park is great for easy, fun and free sledding on Mount Hood with little ones. The closest hill is just a five-minute walk up the snowy road from the parking lot; bigger and better hills are just a little farther along. Because it’s also a popular skiing and snowshoeing spot, White River can be a touch crowded, but it’s expansive enough that there’s room enough for everyone. And with an incredible view of the mountain as backdrop, there’s little to complain about. (It doesn’t cost anything to sled here other than a Sno-Park permit. If you buy a permit from a DMV, they’re $3; most vendors that sell them jack them up to $5.)
  • Little John Sno-Park — At 3,700 feet just 30 miles south of Hood River on Oregon 35, this free Sno-Park (free sledding on Mount Hood except for the Sno-Park permit) is fairly low in elevation, so if it’s a low snow year the pickings can be slim. But when there is snow, the sledding looks like good fun. There’s also an old log warming hut. The Forest Service only allows plastic sleds and tubes.
  • Summit Ski Area — Mount Hood’s oldest ski area is also home to a tubing area. You can’t bring your own sled, but for $20, you get a tube from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends. For weekdays, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., it’s $15. frM-F; kids 48″ and under are $10. Summit is just east of Government Camp. Summit also operates Snow Bunny, a little Sno-Park next door, where you can tube (not sled) for $15 all day.
  • Cooper Spur Mountain Resort — A sleepy but quaint little resort on the beautiful north side of Mount Hood, Cooper Spur is home to a tubing park with a rope tow. Ten bucks for the morning or afternoon, which includes some great views of the north side of Mount Hood on the drive up from Hood River.
  • Mt. Hood Skibowl — The closest ski area to Portland is also home to a snow tubing area. Cost is $25 for adults for three hours, $19 for juniors; an all-day tube ticket is $50. The area includes a tube conveyor for heading back up the hill. In addition to regular tubing, Skibowl also offers Cosmic Tubing on weekend nights with laser lights, black lights, music and more.
  • Other Sno Parks and Areas — The Forest Service also lists Sledding and Tubing as activities at these other Mount Hood Sno Parks: Government Camp Summit Sno Park and Multorpor Sno Park. I’ve also seen reports of sledding opportunities at Trillium Lake, near the Hemlock Trail in Government Camp and elsewhere.

Mount Hood — for a deal

There is no denying that North Drinkware’s Oregon Pint — and its second glass, the Washington Pint — is pretty sweet, especially if you’re a fan of Mount Hood and the Cascades.

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But the now $45 price tag is a pretty big commitment. Not to discredit all the labor and craftsmanship and creativity that goes into each glass. I appreciate that and treat the glass I got this summer with great care. I love it. The price is, nonetheless, part of the equation.

This weekend, though, North is offering an opportunity to grab some of its fine pints, albeit in slightly different conditions, at a smokin’ deal — just $20 each.

The Portland company is hosting a two-day “When North Goes South” sale, which will offer 800 second-quality Oregon and Washington pints for sale for $20 apiece. According to the company, the glasses “may have slight imperfections such as being a little too heavy, having a wider or slightly wavy lip, bubbles in the glass, etc… and did not meet production standards to be a first quality glass.” Many of the imperfections, North notes, are hardly recognizable.

“I personally prefer the seconds, as the glasses have a little extra character from being handmade,” said North co-founder Leigh Capozzi in an email to me this morning.

For $20, it sounds like a deal to me.

The sale is happening from 1-5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5 and from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 6 at 1219 Southeast Ivon Street in Portland. For more info, visit http://northdrinkware.com.

On Mount Hood at the Lake Oswego Library

This weekend, looking to drum up some early holiday cheer while also focusing on local creativity, the Lake Oswego Public Library is hosting Keeping It LOcal. 

Held from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 15, the event will bring 20 local authors and illustrators together to share their work, both in conversation and in commerce. Among the authors scheduled to be there: Brian Doyle, who’s book, Mink River, is one of my favorite Oregon books of all time, and Scott Sparling, whose great  book, Wire to Wireis set in a northern Michigan locale that I know and love.

I’ll be there with On Mount Hood, too.

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Doggie Dogs at Timberline Lodge

In his 11-plus years with me, Oliver has been all over Mount Hood:

Along the Sandy River . . .

Oliver on the Muddy Fork

Up to Paradise Park . . .

Through the snow of White River . . .

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All the way around the mountain on the Timberline Trail, up to McNeil Point and right up to the icy chill of Dollar Lake.

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But the one place he’s never been allowed to come along so far is Timberline Lodge. Save for the quasi-resident St. Bernards, Heidi and Bruno, Timberline has largely been off-limits to the four-legged among us.

Not any more.

Though they’re not yet marketing it full-on, Timberline has modified its pet policy to allow some rooms to be pet-friendly. At present, you have to call to get more information, but it is now an option, according to Jon Tullis, the lodge’s director of public affairs.

If he could understand that, I’m sure Oliver would be thrilled.

 

OMH Halloween Edition: Timberline Lodge and The Shining

It’s Halloween, a great day for watching Stanley Kubrick’s classic adaptation of Stephen King’s novel, The Shining. It is a great and eerie film that within the first few minutes spotlights a couple famous Oregon landmarks — Mount Hood and Timberline Lodge. 

It’s a fleeting glimpse, though, because other than the brief glance of the mountain, the lodge and a couple other minor exterior shots, there wasn’t much of the movie filmed on Mount Hood. Instead, most of it was shot at London’s Elstree Studios using massive sets, sound stages, and a full-size mockup of the lodge’s exterior.

No matter though. All it took was that short little cameo to forever brand Timberline Lodge as the Overlook Hotel from King’s book. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing.

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The Shining (and some other books…) in the gift shop at Timberline Lodge.

One other interesting fact about The Shining at Timberline Lodge: in the novel, room 217 of the Overlook Hotel is a haunted one, tainted by scandal and suicide. Rather than spook guests who might have ended up in room 217 at Timberline, the filmmakers were asked to change the room number in the movie to one that didn’t exist at Timberline. That’s why, in the movie, little Danny Torrance asks, “Mr. Hallorann, what is in Room 237?” — not 217.

Rerouting the Timberline Trail at the Eliot crossing

Anyone who’s hiked the Timberline Trail in its entirety in the past eight years or so knows that crossing the Eliot Creek on the north side of the mountain can be a bit dicey. That’s because a massive debris flow in November 2006 wiped out the established crossing, which for years had been susceptible to the mountain’s fancies anyway.As a result, the Forest Service closed the crossing, officially, if not exactly completely, rendering an uninterrupted circuit of the mountain impossible.

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The closure, however, didn’t stop people from crossing the creek; it just forced them to find other ways to get across, usually heading high up onto the Eliot Glacier  or dropping way down one side of the unstable moraine, crossing the icy cold creek, and then heading back up the other side.

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It’s doable if a bit dangerous. We did it in 2013 and found the approach to be the most difficult part. Crossing the actual creek was frigid, but all in all it wasn’t any more difficult than some of the other creeks and rivers along the 41 miles of the trail.

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Now, however, the Forest Service is looking for a fix. Original plans called for a pretty substantial suspension bridge across the Eliot, but those have, thankfully, been dropped. Plan B is a reroute of about 1.5 miles of the Timberline Trail. The new leg would head west from the Cloud Cap Saddle Trailhead and switchback down to the Eliot. There are no plans for a bridge at this new crossing, so hikers would still have to find their own way across the creek. The lower elevation of the crossing, however, would theoretically make for a better if not safer crossing than higher up.

As part of these plans, the Forest Service is also proposing the removal of existing segments of trail that have for years led to the washout crossing on both sides of the moraine. The eastern portion of that trail is actually a fantastic alternate route for going up or coming down the Cooper Spur Hike, as it affords incredible views out over the Eliot and up the north face of Hood. To lose that option would be unfortunate, even though it would probably still hang around as an unofficial footpath.

The Forest Service is currently accepting comments on its plans for the Timberline Trail, but only until 5 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 30, so if you have thoughts to share, now’s the time to do it. They can be emailed to Casey Gatz in the Hood River Ranger District at cgatz@fs.fed.us. More information about the project is also available here.