It’s been an up and down year for snow on Mount Hood thus far.
Back in February, some parts of the mountain had just 50 to 60 percent of their normal snow. We were skiing then, and you could tell. Even high up on the Magic Mile, rocks were exposed in a way that usually doesn’t come until late April or so.
Since then, however, the snow has piled up. The snowpack is still below annual averages, but there’s plenty more of it now than there was earlier this year.
And this past weekend, on Sunday, it was coming down like January. All day long it fell, creating amazing conditions for skiing all afternoon long.
We’ll see what the rest of spring brings to Mount Hood.
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.
Sure, it’s been over for us for just about a month now, but it was a good one this year, the ski season on Mount Hood.
For us, not hardcore skiers by any means, it didn’t even start until early March, when Amy and I took a day on the slopes to ourselves to mark our 20 years together while the kids learned away. We sampled Timberline’s new Phlox Cabin and just got our ski legs on for the season.
While we’ve done Timberline’s spring pass in the past, we decided to branch out this year and check out just what Mt. Hood Meadows had to offer. Lame, I know, that in our nearly two decades here in Oregon, we’ve never skied at Meadows, even though we’ve hiked through it and sledded just down the road at White River.
From the first go at it, though, we were hooked.
Wow. We’d heard some rumors about Meadows compared to Timberline: that it was overcrowded, full of attitude, expensive. None of that came to light for us.
Instead, what we found all spring season long was a flood of new terrain and vistas that we’d never taken in before, friendly folks all around and just a fun, mountain atmosphere. Some scenes from this season as we look forward to next (but head into a sunny summer first) . . .
It’s not like Timberline needed anything to make it even more enjoyable, even more charming, even more appealing than it already is.
But this year, the lodge upped its attraction for the winter crowd with the addition of the Phlox Point Cabin.
A former Boy Scout cabin that Timberline renovated last year, Phlox Point Cabin is the perfect place for a midday lunch, a warming spell on a chilly ski day or a mid-afternoon pick-me-up.
Amy and I made ourselves comfortable inside Phlox Point a few weeks ago when we marked the day we’d met 20 years ago in Clearwater Beach, Fla., with a ski day on a mountain thousands of miles away from those sandy shores.We’d skied for most of the morning, sans kiddos, and decided to break at the cabin for lunch. It was the right call, and the cabin and its offerings — tacos, IPAs, wine by the glass, a roasting fire inside and seating areas inside and out — are just about all you could ask for a mid-mountain hideaway.
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.
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.
A quick and last-minute list of some Mount Hood gifts for that alpine aficionado in your life:
- On Mount Hood: A Biography of Oregon’s Perilous Peak — Shameless, I know, but sometimes that’s just the way the world works. If you’re in the Portland metro region, it’s not too late to get a signed copy for Christmas for just $15. You can also find it at Powell’s, Annie Bloom’s, Broadway Books and most other local bookstores. Here’s a list of stores outside of Portland, and you can always find it online at Powell’s, Abe Books, Biblio and Amazon.
A former Portland Tribune colleague of mine, Ben Jacklet, co-founded Shred Hood in 2013 as a community news and information site to cover the skiing, snowboarding and backcountry on Mount Hood.
Subscriptions come in a couple different options, including one-time and ongoing. Each has its privileges, including a sweet T-shirt and bottle opener depending on your subscription.
Find out more at Shred Hood.
Feeling a little more philanthropic this holiday season? Consider making a donation to some of the environmental groups that have worked — and are always working — to protect the region’s wild places, including, of course, Mount Hood. (Bark’s mission is more Mount Hood-centric, while Oregon Wild covers the entire state; both have played major roles in protecting Mount Hood and the Mount Hood National Forest.)
And as a bonus: both organizations are all about getting out and exploring the places they protect, so each offers regular outings as well.
- Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries Lidar Map of Mount Hood — DOGAMI released this double-sided, water-resistant map a couple years ago. It includes 75 trails around Mount Hood, wilderness areas, roads, campgrounds, information for climbers and hikers, and a geologic overview. Just $6 at Nature of the Northwest.
- Timberline Lodge Ram’s Head Fire Poker — Fashioned after the larger fireplace tools used at the storied Timberline Lodge, this hand-forged wrought iron poker is classic Timberline through and through. I met Darryl Nelson, the blacksmith behind much of the ironwork that’s been installed at Timberline over the past 30 years or so, and he told me guests regularly try to heist these out of the rooms. Not good. Instead, find them at the Timberline gift shop for $75. (Looks like they might be sold out online, but they usually have some in the store.) The shop also has a nice array of vintage-looking posters and artwork, books, souvenirs and more. Check it out.