In my year-long journey to explore areas closer to home, my second adventure included a beautiful warm sunny day on Mt. Hood. Growing up in Bend Oregon, I had plenty of experiences on and around Mt. Bachelor, but I’ve explored the Mt. Hood area very little. I grew up cross-country skiing, and honestly didn’t care for it much when I was a child (I was always so cold), but as an adult, I have grown to really love it. It’s such a pleasant way to enjoy the wilderness and snow in the winter season, and get a great workout. Cross-Country skiing is far more affordable than the alternative down-hill options, so it’s perfect for those of us that want to get outdoors, but are on a tighter budget.
I headed toward Mount Hood Meadows, a ski resort for those of you looking to snowboard or ski quickly down-hill. There are several snow parks in the area for snow-shoeing and cross-country skiing. I went with basically zero plan, and winged it quite successfully. (Note: these snow parks do require parking passes. They can be purchased nearly anywhere heading up the mountain.) It had snowed 1-2 feet the day before, so the area was simply gorgeous with fresh snow. Although it was a beautiful day, I went during the middle of the week, so very few people were out. I’m sort of selfish with my outdoor time. Unless I’m spending the day with friends or family, I enjoy being alone when I’m in the woods, nothing pleases me more, to be the only one out there. This proved handy when I had to take half my clothes off along the trail later, as I was way over dressed for such a warm day. (However, I obviously encourage folks to let someone know where you are going, and when to expect you home.)
I first went to Bennet Snow Park. Since it was my first time, I talked to a couple people I saw in the parking lot for insight into the area. (Okay, having people around has its advantages haha.) With all the fresh snow, there wasn’t a lot of tracks down yet, and since it was my first time out on skis in more than three years, I thought it would be good to stick to the main trail.
So I geared up in my snow pants (bib style purchased at Goodwill for $7.00), and my late grandmother’s skis, boots, and poles she purchased in the 1980’s. Good thing retro is so cool in the Portland area, or I may have looked silly. I have a thing about avoiding upgrading or replacing items until absolutely necessary, especially when the equipment you have works perfectly well. (See my post on Planned Obsolescence.)
I will admit, I was a little cranky heading up to the mountain. We all have our off days, and I was just letting things get to me. The stress of looking for work and continual rejection can be heavy at times. However, as soon as I took that first swish in the snow, all my anxieties, negativities, and grumpiness melted. There is nothing more healing than getting into that crisp fresh air. It was exactly what my mind, body and soul needed!
I traveled the trail as it traversed a cliff heading into the woods with a very slow incline rising to a hill with a sweeping view of Mt. Hood and the valley below. It was a relatively short distance, so I decided to make my way to another snow park nearby. I randomly picked the White River Canyon snow park only a mile or so down the road back towards Government Camp.
I was greeted with several families sledding on the hills near the parking lot. The lot itself was much larger than Bennet, indicating its popularity. And I can attest, this was honestly one of the most beautiful scenes I had ever skied in. The trail traveled along a canyon with a running creek below and the mountain right in from of you. There was a wonderful expanse of vision along the trail (nice juxtaposition from the thick woods I was in minutes prior).
I didn’t have a lot of time, so I traveled up the trail for a mile and half, and then made my way back to the parking lot. I didn’t notice I was going up hill on the way in, so to my surprise I glided all the way down (with a few falls here and there. I don’t like to go too fast, and I’m sure I was tired by this point haha).
It was a fabulous experience. I really encourage folks to try an outdoor activity that you haven’t experienced, or use gear that has been gathering dust for years- shake out those cobwebs and give it a try again. It’s one of the most rejuvenating experiences for us. Also, it’s easy and fairly low in cost to rent gear if you would like to give it a go. A friend of mine recently lent me his snowshoes, so perhaps that will be my next adventure.
Please share some of your favorite winter spots below!