This is the kind of day you hope for when you head to Mount Hood. It doesn’t always happen. When it doesn’t, a day on the mountain is still a great day. When it does, especially in late winter, my oh my.
We set out from White River Sno-Park on one of these days, Daryl, Wyatt, Oliver, and I. The sun shines, the blue sky bends, the parking lot waits for more, who for some reason never come.
There are some sledders, some other dogs who Oliver greets, a few snowshoers, a handful of skiers. In no time, we lead the thinning pack. A half mile in, we are seemingly alone on the mountain.
Slowly we climb, one of us continually reminding the others about the glory of the day. It’s so different than the trip we made nearby last year, which was great itself, but hardly this.
We break for lunch, then bask in the southern view: Mount Jefferson, the top of Bachelor, maybe a hint of the Three Sisters. And of course, Mount Hood all around.
The way up continues, invigorating and refreshing. It takes work, but this is good effort, the kind that pays off immediately. And at least for some among us, it seems no labor at all; simply joy.
I worry that Oliver is getting up there in his years, but after a day like today, I don’t know why. He turns 9 in August. He leads most of the outing, never runs out of steam, makes me wish we were all so full and happy, in the moment, outside.
There comes a point up high, where the moraine we have been pushing up all day, just one shelf below Boy Scout Ridge, comes uncovered, the deep snow giving way to exposed patches of gray. To ski up higher wouldn’t quite work. But Daryl isn’t done.
“It’s always good to get a little mountaineering in on trips like these,” he says, bolstering his case for wanting to climb a little higher.
So he and I step on, ridge jumping another half-mile or so, just to see what’s up ahead. It’s more incredible views, of course, more fresh alpine air and blue sky and white snow and gratitude and simple appreciation for all of it; for just having the kind of day we’re having on Mount Hood.
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!
Compared to a few weeks ago, when it seemed like all of Portland had headed to the White River Sno Park on Mount Hood for a little sledding, the place was empty when we rolled in the week before St. Patrick’s day. Just a handful of people in the parking lot getting ready to head up out of the cold rain and into the snow, a few others putting out a an odd early-morning campfire.
We weren’t there for sledding this time, though. This time, it was all about some cross-country skiing, which White River is another perfect place for. The clouds were heavy, the low-down raindrops finally crystalizing into snow higher up, and the mountain wasn’t even close to being out. But we were, Daryl, Wyatt, Oliver, and I, and that was all that mattered.