We’ve tried this winter to ski, we have. But conditions have not been all that conducive, at least not for us and the time we can commit. Rain soaked us out the day after a book event in Hood River and, earlier, the morning after a fun night at Timberline Lodge after we’d gotten in some good runs at Summit.
But finally this past Sunday, the mountain shined on us in full.
And it worked out. The day was an incredible one on Mount Hood: absolute bluebird sky, nice spring conditions at Timberline, and just a sense of gratitude for being up there on the beautiful mountain.
Madeline — and Amy and I too —skied the Magic Mile for the very first time. Pretty impressive for a seven-year-old who just started skiing last year.
On top of all that, Spence, who’s been dying to get on a chairlift and skim down a slope, had his wishes granted, too.
UPDATE: Because it’s spring break, and because today was another gorgeous day, Amy and Madeline headed back to the mountain for another session. Deadlines kept me and Spence at home working, but the ladies enjoyed a day on the hill. And though I was super impressed by Madeline’s skiing yesterday on Hood, today she apparently cranked it up another level — to the 8,500-foot level on Hood to be exact, otherwise known as the Palmer.
Their lodge right in the heart of Government Camp is undeniably centered around one primary focus: skiing. Historic pictures of ski jumping competitions on the Multorpor hill. Old-school wooden skis from Mount Hood giants like Hjalmar Hvam. Ruddy-cheeked skiers lounging around the fireplace after a day on the mountain. Spartan wooden bunks mostly filled by 9 p.m., emptied almost entirely by 6 or 7 a.m. because of, well, skiing.
We spent a night with the Cascade Ski Club earlier this month, not only to check out the lodge and the club, but to share a bit of On Mount Hood around the evening fire. Some folks had already read the book, and some members are actually in it. One, Joe Schuberg, had been manager of the Ram’s Head bar at Timberline Lodge when I was interviewing Steve Buchan for the chapter on Silcox Hut. “This guy’s a character,” Schuberg had said. “Bigger than Ben-Hur.” That’s the kind of descriptor you take note of. Schuberg now manages the CSC lodge.
The next morning, we were up early with the rest of the lodge, albeit a touch more slowly than the real early birds. We started the day with our first visit to the Huckleberry Inn for breakfast and one of their storied maple bars.
After that, it was on to another Mount Hood staple, Valian’s Ski Shop, for a quick adjustment from Bud Valian himself, and then it was off for a refresher day on the slopes and some skiing of our own at Summit Ski Area.
Sure, it was Super Bowl Sunday, and I had kind of wanted to see the game. But we were having fun, we were on the mountain, and we were skiing.
(For the record, we ended up catching some of the second half of that terrible football game at a Mount Hood favorite in Welches: El Burro Loco, home to the best IPA list and Mexican food anywhere close to the mountain.)
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.
It’s Halloween week, my time of year 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.
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.
It only took a couple of exterior shots of Timberline Lodge to forever link Mount Hood to Stephen King’s classic novel, The Shining, or, more appropriately, Stanley Kubric’s interpretation of the book. Most of the movie was shot in a sound stage in England, but there are a few opening scenes that are unmistakably Mount Hood.
I’ve been a Stephen King fan since middle school and a long admirer of The Shining. Even more so since writing On Mount Hood.
So it was with great excitement that I heard about King writing a sequel to The Shining, which just came out a week or so ago. It’s called Doctor Sleep and centers around the now grown up Danny Torrance, the clairvoyant little boy from the original story.
I bought a copy at Powell’s over the weekend and am anxious to get into it. I read the original every couple years, and every year around this time I watch the movie, so it’ll be nice to add a new chapter to the Shining story. . .