We got a late start on Mother’s Day this year. Not for brunch or lunch or a walk through the gardens, but for the mountain. I’m lucky, and so are the kids, that Amy is an adventurous mother, one who I think would rather be out skiing, climbing a mountain or creating some other kind of memorable experience on Mother’s Day — or any day.
This year’s plan was to chuck the canoe on the car, load up the fishing gear and head for Timothy Lake, a sprawling expanse of mountain lake that sits in the far off southeastern shadow of Hood. We didn’t hit the road until after 11 on Sunday morning, and with a stop at Joe’s Donuts, we weren’t looking to hit the water until well into the afternoon.
But our agenda was open, the day was clear enough and the hours of sunlight this time of year mean you can linger plenty long. With that in mind, we decided not to head straight for Timothy Lake, but to instead scout out a lake we’ve cruised passed countless times over the years but never stopped to see. Called Frog Lake, it’s just off Highway 26 past the Highway 35 junction. Though it’s a little more subtle than some of the other lakes around, Frog Lake has its own unique beauty, and a view of Mount Hood that’s all its own.
We didn’t stay long, but now we know Frog Lake.
Off we headed toward Timothy Lake, first veering a few miles off the route to grab a look at a fascinating little Oregon wonder: Little Crater Lake. This picture does it no justice — I’m not sure a smartphone will ever really be able to capture the true, natural turquoise and blue hues of this incredible spring-fed lake — but I grabbed a shot just for the record.
It’s been years since we’ve been back to Timothy Lake. In fact, we’ve yet to take the kids there, so it seemed like a good time to refresh ourselves and introduce them to it. I wasn’t expecting any surprises, but as we were driving around the lake’s southern shores looking for an easy access for the boat, what should tumble out of the forest but an honest to goodness black bear. Now, I’ve been all over the Mount Hood National Forest in my 18 years in Oregon, but I’ve only seen one bear in that time. That one was running up the Forest Service road ahead of a tour bus I was on during an exploration of the Bull Run Watershed back when I was researching for On Mount Hood. This one bounded right out of the trees about 50 feet in front of us, galloped across the road and plunged back into the woods. He was in view just long enough for all of us to see him and for me to drop a reactionary profanity underscoring my amazement. Crazy how exhilarating that 10-second snapshot was.
Out on the lake, we were among just a handful of like-minded folks who decided that Mother’s Day was a great day for Timothy Lake. And it was.
The kids didn’t catch anything — no one did — but we didn’t need to. Being out on the lake, with the mountain in the background and the sun breaking through just enough to warm was plenty. We paddled back on the edge of a thunderstorm, loaded up and pointed homeward. But we had one more new experience to add to the day still: dinner at the Skyway Bar and Grill, a funky roadside attraction that, like Frog Lake, we’ve been passing for years but have never explored. We were told that It’s named after the famed Mount Hood Skiway, an old city bus converted into a cable tram that ran from Government Camp to Timberline for a few years in the 1950s.
After some incredible barbecue, fries and macaroni and cheese in front of a crackling fire, we’ve found a new mountain favorite.
And that was Mother’s Day 2015 — an adventure all around.
Sure, why not…
Though I’ve not yet celebrated New Year’s on Mount Hood, I’ve always wanted to. The setting, the snow, the festivities, it all just seems very inviting.
We won’t be up on the mountain for the holiday again this year, but for anyone who might be, there’s plenty to choose from.
Timberline Lodge — The mountain’s landmark lodge ushers in the new year with style: two dinner seatings in its Cascade Dining Room, dancing, champagne toasts and more. There’s also late-night skiing and snowboarding on into 2013, and at midnight, a one-of-a-kind fireworks display:
Mt. Hood Meadows — The ski area teams up with Widmer Brothers Brewing to ring in the new year with skiing and riding till midnight, a dinner buffet, live music from Keegan Smith and The Fam, and fireworks beginning at 10 p.m.
Mt. Hood Skibowl — For its 25th annual gala, Skibowl will be packing in skiing and riding till 2 a.m., Cosmic Tubing until midnight, two fireworks shows, DJs, live bands, the torchlight parade featuring the Powder Hounds snow bikers and Olympic speed skier Petr Kakes, champagne toasts, a Glow in the Dark Dance Party, and tons more.
Happy New Year!
After our hike to Tamawanas Falls over the weekend, we’d worked up a bit of a hunger and a thirst. Our first stop was to Marchesi Vineyards, a charming little winery in Hood River, where we sampled a tasty pinot grigio and their 2010 primitivo, which is pretty much a zinfandel. Both were fantastic, as was the complimentary bread, cheese, and salami and the kid-friendly feel of the place.
For me, though, the ideal aprés-hike beverage is always, hands-down, a fresh, cold IPA or pale ale. And when you’re hiking the north and east sides of Mount Hood and passing through Hood River on your way back home, you’re in the land of some great examples of both.
For years, the go-to was always Full Sail, and it’s still a consistent king in my book. Their menu has gotten much better over the years as well. Just down the street, Double Mountain Brewery & Taproom threw some variety into the mix when they opened in 2007 with their Vaporizer, IRA and Hop Lava ales. They offer some nice brick-oven pizzas and sandwiches, too.
This time, we branched out a little more, and headed over the river to Everybody’s Brewing, a characteristic brew pub I’d heard about in White Salmon. Like some of the other brewers out in the Gorge, Everybody’s Brewing brews ’em up right: Country Boy IPA, Boo Brah Bitter, Goodwill IPA, and others. They also serve up classic pub fare and have a front corner for live music, which was strumming away and adding nice color the night we were there.
There’s something else that sets Everybody’s Brewing apart from many of its compatriots out in the Gorge, too; something that makes the short drive across the bridge to White Salmon even more worth it than it already is:
That’s the view from their patio.
(Image courtesy of Everybody’s Brewing.)
Over the years, we’ve spent a lot of time on Mount Hood, but also a fair amount of time driving to and from and around it. And so, after long hikes up to McNeil Point, afternoons climbing at French’s Dome, long, scenic drives around the Mount Hood loop with out-of-towners, and day trips to canoe, ski, sled, or just visit, we’ve sampled a few of the local restaurants and watering holes around the mountain. Some have been forgettable, others have become go-to favorites. A few of the latter to consider next time you’re in the area:
Anyone who’s driven by Calamity Jane’s in Sandy on their way to or from the mountain and not been at least intrigued to know what that inviting blond with the burger on the side of the road is really all about must have been asleep at the wheel. We pulled in years ago to check it out, and now no hike under 5 miles ends without a Calamity burger on the tail end. The place is homey and traditional, the menu packed with close to 40 burgers served in three different scales: the third-pound City Slicker, the two-thirds-pound Wrangler, and the just plain scary one-pounder known as the Trail Boss. Some of the burgers sound more novelty than anything —the George Washington has sour cream and pie cherries — but paired with fries and giant 34 0z Bridgeport IPAs, just about anything from Calamity’s caps off a day on the mountain in a satiating, near gut-busting way.
There came a time when it seemed as if we were running out of options for better food around the mountain. But then someone recommended El Burro Loco in Welches, and that changed that. Unassuming but friendly, this Mexican joint has fantastic, reasonably priced food, a huge beer selection — at least five different IPAs on tap last time we stopped in — and chummy staff. Great for when you’ve not earned a Calamity burger but still want some real satisfaction.
When you’re not rewarding yourself for a long and dirty day on the trail but instead seeking out a touch more refinery, 3 Rivers Grill, on the north side of the mountain in Hood River, makes an excellent choice. A little more upscale but still laced with Oregon informality, 3 Rivers sits high on a hill lot in downtown overlooking the city and the Columbia River. Outside seating is scenic and comfortable, and the salmon I had there on our first visit was something I’ve not soon forgotten.
Of course, there are a ton of other options, including breweries, pizza joints, historic lodges, and even a renowned donut shop. But this site is new. We’ve much to cover. And we will.