Mt. Hood Skiing
by Emily

This year, Dave and I took a trip down to Oregon for part of Spring break.

After a long and relaxing car ride full of cinnamon bears and "those big green cheerios," we came upon Mt. Hood. It was still afternoon when we arrived, and the sun was shining intensely on the mountain. It looked quite beautiful from a distance, but arrival in the parking lot presented a slightly new perspective. The mountain itself was still amazing, but the chairlift running up it was sort of an eyesore, and all of the people milling around the lodge pretending that the blazing sun and 65 degree afternoon was wintertime sort of weirded me out. It is difficult to explain, but I was standing in the parking lot wearing a t-shirt and sandals, while people were being dumped off of the chairlift (10 feet away) decked out in snow sports apparel. It was like we were experiencing two different realities.

Awesome scenery for some icy skiing!

Dave and I quickly put on our skis and began skinning up along side the chairlift. After climbing about 1500 feet we turned around to ski down. Unfortunately, the sun had sunken a bit and the slush had hardened considerably, which meant that our decent involved skiing over lots and lots of ice. We got back to the car just in time for the shadow of Hood to engulf the parking lot.

After thoroughly scouting the ditches around the parking lot, we decided to camp on a snow burm near the back. We pitched the tent, ate dinner, and went to sleep. Dave (such a gentleman) claimed that he was hot, and let me sleep in his new down sleeping bag. We thus began a relatively peaceful night, punctuated occasionally by the roar of snowmobiles and the crying of baby owls.

We woke early the next morning and saw the sunrise paint the sky. It was a challenge for me to crawl out of Dave’s toasty down sleeping bag, but he was very eager to get out of mine. We put away the tent and began skiing up the crispy hillside in search of the summit. After skiing a couple of hours, we had climbed 2500 feet and had finally reached the top of the damn chairlifts. At this time we took a break and were soon met by a guy who left the parking lot shortly after we did.

He hiked with a motion so exaggerated it looked as though he was dancing slowly and clumsily up the mountain. When he reached the top of the lifts, he took off his pack and pulled off his picket and ice ax. Dave and I watched in respectful silence as the man proceeded to do a long and expressive drum solo on his pack and helmet and then continue on his way.

Hanging around while the more foolish get pummeled.

By this time, we had observed all of the parties that had camped at illumination saddle reach the beginning of the hogsback and turn around. We soon learned that there were huge rock and ice chunks flying near continually down the chute, and that a few people had been significantly hurt by them. After some consideration, Dave and I decided to change our focus from climbing to skiing. We then spent a blissful hour sunning atop rocks at 8500ft eating dried mango and pepperjack, waiting patiently for the sun to warm the ice to a ski-able consistency.

During this time, one of the turned-back-hit-by-rocks-n-ice parties descended to our perch. I talked one of the guys into letting me borrow his helmet for the ski down, because I didn’t want to crack my head on the ice should my skiing ability falter. This guy said some things to impress me:

  • He fell off of the beginning of the Hogback and slid a long way down the dirt gutter.
  • In 1998 he was driving drunk and hit something that scratched his car and he thought it was a moose, but it wasn’t
  • In 1983 he had an allergic reaction to illegal drugs
  • He has a camera mount on the front of his helmet for documenting the 9 lives that he’d already lost
  • He knows lots of geological terms, like lahar

Emily making turns "on the flat" as she says.

The ski down was magnificent, and only got better as we descended our 2500 run and the ice got slushier and slushier. The hotness of the day mixed with the fact that we were skiing felt confusing, yet completely satisfying in a very surreal way. Upon reaching the bottom, Dave and I decided to skin back up and add yet another amazing ski run to our wonderful day.

We then met the drummer in the parking lot (our luck he was parked right next to us), and he talked and talked and talked about himself and then he and Dave made a tentative plan to “do Rainier.” Dave and I then drove off into the warm evening shadows

In a few hours we found ourselves at a place where we were served an exquisite vegetarian feast and hot herbal tea. After savoring our meal we stripped from our sweaty capleline and watched the crystal starry sky from the warm depths of a riverstone-lined hotspring.