I’ve heard about the pain, the traffic snarls, the dust and darkness and exhaustion. But I’ve also heard about the fun and the camaraderie and the experience that comes from running in Hood to Coast, the roughly 200-mile relay that starts high up on Mount Hood and finishes on the sandy beaches of Seaside on the Pacific Ocean.
It’s always been an intrigue to me, and while I’ve wanted to join a team for years, I never have. This year, however, the opportunity finally arose.
Actually, it came up last year, during a happy hour at Kelly’s Olympian with my colleagues from the Portland Business Journal. I believe it was Elizabeth Hayes who offhandedly suggested that we all do it. I was instantly in, as was just about everyone else, though I’m not sure we expected to win the lottery that you have to enter to grab one of the 1,050 available team slots.
But we did, and months later, Hood to Coast 2017 is upon the 12 of us, along with several generous volunteers who have signed on to help out all the runners. Our first runner heads down from Timberline Lodge at about 11:30 Friday morning and, if all goes as planned, we’ll run across the finish line as a team at the beach in Seaside late on Saturday afternoon.
Our team name? Run of the Press, which has some old-school journalism connotations.
Hood to Coast 2017. Friday. Here we go.
I suppose this is the season we should have bought spring passes for Timberline Lodge & Ski Area, seeing as how it’s still flush with snow in June while all the other resorts have long since closed.
But there’s no complaining. We spent a snowy, snowy weekend at Timberline back in March for Spencer’s birthday, stayed for a week in Government Camp for spring break and skied at Mt. Hood Meadows five of seven days, and made the most of an epic spring ski season that went strong until Meadows closed for the year on May 6.
It was a great season. On Mount Hood, they all are.
There was a chance that Stacy Allison, the first American woman to climb Mt. Everest, wasn’t going to make it to the kickoff event for this year’s Climb for Clean Air program last night. She was on her way back from Denver, and the timing of it all made it a little uncertain.
But she made it — in time to catch some pics from a Hood slideshow even — and added another notch to the list of pretty incredible people that we’ve met over the years.
Cheney did the climb through a program of the American Lung Association called the Climb for Clean Air. Through that, climbers raise funds for the ALA while training and, ultimately, climbing Northwest peaks.
It’s a cool program and one that I recently wrote about for the Business Journal in a Q&A with Stacy Allison, the first American woman to summit Everest. She’s a Portlander and has been involved in the climbing program for years.
There’s a kickoff party for the hike leaders, assistants and past and present participants this Tuesday at the Lucky Labrador in Northwest Portland. I’ll be there with some climbing pics and tales (and, of course, a few books) to get people in the mountain mood.
While the Mt. Hood climb is all filled up for this year — you can still sign up for the wait list — there are spots still available for the Rainier and Baker climbs. Find out more at www.climbforcleanair.com.
We haven’t been up to Mount Hood for any sledding yet this winter, but a few inches a couple weeks ago made for some decent runs right here in the neighborhood.
All that’s gone now. But Hood is seeing some mammoth snowfall this year, and the sledding’s bound to be good. Here are some some of the best sledding spots on Mount Hood for 2017.
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 $4; most vendors that sell them jack them up a buck or two.)
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.
Whenever I‘ve climbed Mount Hood, one of my goals with my pack has always been to go fairly light. Maybe a bigger camera, an extra layer or two for the weather, a little more food. But for the most part, the bare essentials usually has done me just fine.
Hauling a book to the summit? I don’t think it’s ever crossed my mind.
But that’s just what my colleague at the Portland Business Journal, photographer Cathy Cheney, did last month when she climbed to the top of Hood for the American Lung Association’s annual Climb for Clean Air.
In a post for the Business Journal, Cheney wrote about how the opportunity to climb Hood had come to her out of the blue, at a time when she was up for a challenge and ready to step out of her comfort zone. So she signed up, trained for almost six months, and found herself standing atop the 11,245-foot summit of Mount Hood — and raising $3,400 for the ALA along the way — in early June.
While she was getting herself in shape for the climb, Cheney also picked up a copy of On Mount Hood, which I signed for her and used to wish her well.
The morning after her successful climb, Cheney sent me a photo I never would have expected:
Apparently she had room in her pack for the copy of the book. It made it to the summit with her, but 40-mile-an-hour winds prevented prolonged photo ops at the top, so this one’s from a little ways down from the summit.
Even so, I can almost guarantee On Mount Hood has never been that high on Mount Hood before.
Now it has. Congrats, Cathy!