In his 11-plus years with me, Oliver has been all over Mount Hood:
Along the Sandy River . . .
Up to Paradise Park . . .
Through the snow of White River . . .
All the way around the mountain on the Timberline Trail, up to McNeil Point and right up to the icy chill of Dollar Lake.
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.
In the picture of my office below, can you pick out the Mount Hood fixtures? There are two, not including the print on the wall. OK, the first may be kind of a stretch. It’s my black lab there on the floor, Oliver, who’s a fixture in my office all day long as I’m working away. He loves getting up on the mountain as much as anyone, so that’s his connection. The other is the actual light fixture that hangs from the ceiling. It once lit one of the fireplace rooms at Timberline Lodge. Amy and I won it at a fund-raising auction for the Friends of Timberline last fall, and after finally updating my office earlier this spring, I installed it overhead. Even though it’s a super unique fixture, largely because of its history, it’s not one that is original to Timberline Lodge. According to Linny Adamson, longtime curator at the lodge, these lights were in many of the rooms in the 1970s if not before. She sent me a picture that shows one of the rooms with this fixture in 1976. As Amy and I left the Friends event last fall with the light in our hands, Jeff Kohnstamm, president of RLK and Company, which operates the lodge, joked that it might have been the very light that lit his bedroom growing up. Son of Richard Kohnstamm, the man largely credited with saving Timberline from ruin in the 1950s, Jeff grew up at Timberline in the 1960s and spent many a night there as a kid. Adamson said that in about 1986, she and others working at the lodge found some of the original light fixtures in the attic. The Forest Service gave them permission to remove the newer ones and re-install the originals, which they did just in time for Timberline’s 50th anniversary celebration. And because of that, one of the replacement fixtures now lights my office with a little bit of Timberline glow.
I hate to hop on the gifty bandwagon and all this time of year, but I got a super cool early Christmas gift a couple months ago that I’ve been eyeballing for years now. And to me, it’s one worth sharing.
Amy got it for me when we stayed up at Timberline Lodge back in October as part of the Friends of Timberline annual dinner, which was just grand.
I’ve seen and admired them in the gift shop at Timberline for years, and then when I was working on the Mount Hood book, I actually met the guy who makes them — and he ended up in the book, too. So that, along with the fact that I love nothing more than an a blazing fire this time of year, made this particular gift pretty unique.
It’s the Ram’s Head Fire Poker, a hand-forged wrought iron beauty fashioned after some of the larger fireplace tools at Timberline. (Glad I got one, as it looks like they’re sold out right now.) I’m not 100 percent sure, but there’s a pretty good chance this one was made by Darryl Nelson, the renowned Northwest blacksmith who has done much of the restoration and replication work at Timberline, including these fireplace tools.
It was Darryl who I met up at Silcox Hut one day while researching the book. He shared some great stories with me, including one about people occasionally stealing these pokers out of the guest rooms. (A few folks have even reportedly tried to hustle them out of the lodge by tossing them out their window into the snow; they often can’t find them after they’ve checked out, and only in the summer, when all the snow melts, do lodge staff come across them.)
The ram’s head is, of course, one of the animal symbols prominent throughout the lodge, along with beavers, eagles, marmots, coyotes, deer, and so many others.
So anyway, I’m set for this year already. I’ve used my gift quite a few times already this season, and no doubt will put it to good use throughout the rest of the cold weather this year, next year and many more to come.
I think it’s the kind of gift that’s going to be around and appreciated by myself and others this time of year for a long, long time.
For years now, I have been wanting and meaning to get involved in some kind of community service effort to give back a little bit with some of my free time. Sure, I’ve donated books here and there, I put a little time in at my daughter’s school, but it’s been pretty unfocused so far.
Part of that has to do with a limited amount of hours to spare from what seems like a pretty spoken-for supply. But part of it also has to do with the fact that I just haven’t quite found something that syncs well with what I care about and what I can do. It’s probably just that I haven’t thought about it hard enough, but who knows.
This summer, however, something stared me straight in the face and pointed me in the right direction. It came in mid August during a book event at Timberline Lodge with a few other authors. It was a beautiful summer day. The mountain was out in full, the lodge was bustling with tourists and summer camp skiers and Pacific Crest Trail hikers from all over the world. I sat outside on Timberline’s back patio talking about the mountain with people and feeling like a lucky person to have such a direct connection to the lodge and the mountain.
So I’m sitting there, on the back patio of Timberline Lodge, staring at incredible Mount Hood, not to mention talking to Sarah Munro, author of Timberline Lodge: The History, Art, and Craft of an American Icon, and thinking, too, about how I can get involved with something that really matters to me, and it finally dawns on me — Duh, how about the Friends of Timberline?
Founded in 1975 to conserve and restore the art and furnishings of the lodge, the Friends of Timberline have been involved in a range of projects that, essentially, care for the lodge, its artwork and furniture, and its history. Among their more recent efforts, they completed the first phase of a project to light up some of the artwork in the lodge, and they restored the outdoor amphitheater and front steps. Over the years, the Friends have also been involved with public outreach, story and photo archives, and pathways and landscaping outside the lodge, among many other projects.
It’s such an obvious choice for me, for all the reasons already mentioned, but also because the Friends had invited me to speak at their annual meeting and fund-raiser at the lodge this past Saturday. Amy and I went up there on Saturday — another beautiful mountain day — and had a great time talking with so many fans of Mount Hood and Timberline Lodge. We also explored parts of the lodge we’d never seen before, and came to appreciate the lodge and the mountain even more than we already did.
To top it off, we were lucky enough to spend the night at Timberline, wake the next morning for a swim in the pool, and then enjoy a fantastic breakfast in the Cascade Dining Room. It was hard to leave when we had to, but the entire experience gave us even more cause to support Friends of Timberline and to continue enjoying and taking care of not only the lodge, but the amazing mountain it sits on, too.