Nov 062013
 

I received an email from a reader with some great questions! I’d started a post on snowshoeing and never finished, so I had a great excuse to finish it. Here is Eryn’s question:

“I’m writing today, because as a fellow Portlander and lover of the great outdoors, I’m looking forward to winter and trying somethings that have previously been WAY outside of my comfort zone. Specifically show-shoeing. This might be too simple of a question for you to take the time to answer, but what does one WEAR!?! I’ve figured out my hiking uniform, but could you walk through exactly the garb and gear you typically use for such an adventure? Even a breakdown of your day pack would be helpful! Any recommendations on EASY, fun trails in the area? :)”

Such great questions. Let’s talk about the clothes first.

GEAR

What I wear when I go snowshoeing greatly depends on the temperatures. The coldest I’ve ever gone out in the snow was 11 degrees and that was slightly unpleasant. I felt it most in my feet and hands, even though I had decent gloves on.

The first layer is long underwear from REI. I wear the pants and long sleeved shirt. Over that I sometimes wear sweatpants and then my snow pants. I wear the sweat pants if it’s super cold, but most of the time it’s not needed. The snow pants are lined but not too thickly.

I wear a thick, light-weight sweater over my long underwear shirt and depending on the temperature I wear my jacket or just a vest. I tend to get really hot when I snowshoe, even if it’s cold out. Being able to take off layers is crucial. Sometimes I will take off the sweater half-way through a trek and just wear the long underwear shirt.

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I have snowshoe goggles and sometimes I wear them but usually not. The situations in which I have worn the goggles were when we were snowshoeing in the rain or it was mixed with snow. It was just more comfortable to wear the goggles. The only downside is that they can fog up sometimes.

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I also wear gloves (sometimes thin fabric ones and sometimes the thicker, insulated ones) and my hat. Usually that’s sufficient. Michael and I both have a face gator and have worn it a few times, but it’s usually not cold enough to wear it.

SHOES 

Rent or buy snowshoes? My suggestion is to buy them. A decent pair of snowshoes runs around $150. With everything you can spend a lot of money or you can search for the cheapest pair. I wouldn’t recommend the cheapest pair simply because you get what you paid for. I’ve rented enough crappy snowshoes that buying them made sense and we spent the money to get GOOD ones. Nothing sucks more than being out in the snow and a strap on your snowshoe breaks.

I wear my hiking boots when I snowshoe. They are waterproof, comfortable and go up to my ankles. I will wear gators over the hiking boots which I LOVE. They keep the snow out of your shoes, especially if you’re walking in deep snow.

SAFETY

Preparing for a snowshoe trip is something that should be taken seriously. Even if it’s just a short day trip, you MUST be prepared for everything. That means packing supplies.

The stuff I pack are things like a mini first aid kit, water pills for purifying water, foil blankets, flashlight, compass, snacks, Advil, matches, the Hotties warmers, a knife, and of course, maps/books/guides:

I’ve shared some safety tips before. You can read them here in this post about snowshoeing. It’s important to be prepared because you never know what might happen. There have been a few times where we went out for a hike or to snowshoe and got lost or ended up on the wrong trail and we were out there for a lot longer than we planned on.

WHERE TO GO

I’ve snowshoed in a bunch of different places. Bend is my favorite but it’s a bit of a drive from Portland. If you are in the Bend/Sisters area, I definitely recommend the Virginia Meissner Snow-Park. Love this place! It’s groomed, it’s got trails for all levels of shoers and skiers. There’s also really cute shelters with fireplaces out on the trail.

The closer places are on Mount Hood. There a ton of different trails you can check out within a 90 minute drive. Here are some of my favorites:

Trillium Lake - This is my favorite place to go on Mount Hood. There’s tons of parking, it’s groomed and the trails are clearly marked and easy to follow. It’s also gorgeous! This one is good for beginners but it’s still a challenging hike if you do the full loop.

Glacier View - This is another good one because it’s usually empty. I think we’ve done this a few times and have seen only a few other people on there with us. It’s fairly easy and flat.

White River Trail- This trail is a new one for us. We went to it on New Year’s Day this year and had a great time! It’s on the other side of Mount Hood so the drive is a little longer. It’s super popular too because there’s a huge sledding area. There are a few trails and gorgeous views of Mount Hood. This one is great!

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Frog Lake - I’ve tried to do this one a few times and it’s just okay. The times I’ve gone there wasn’t really enough snow for snowshoeing. We did find a different part of the trail that had more snow and it was better.

There are so many other trails on Mount Hood that are really popular. I would like to try them someday. Unfortunately a lot of them are either backcountry (no marked trails) or super steep. With my knee issues, flat is much better. But someday.

Hope this post helped!

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Feb 282013
 

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Two days before Michael and I were supposed to go up to Mount Hood and spend one night at a resort there, the weather reports recommended people stay off the mountain due to a blizzard. Luckily, by the time Sunday came around the blizzard was gone, the skies were sunny and the roads were clear. I hit the yoga class early Sunday morning before we drove to the Resort at the Mountain. The Resort is nestled in the forest in Welches, which is at the base of Mount Hood. It’s about a 20 minute drive from there to the top, or Timberline Lodge.

Sunday afternoon was sunny and nice. The new snow wasn’t too soft and we decided to get some snowshoeing in before checking in at the resort. We went to Frog Lake. I realized that the last time we tried to do Frog Lake and there wasn’t enough snow, we actually were on the Pacific Crest Trail instead. This time we were on the right trail and there was enough snow.

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The Frog Lake trail was easy, short (1.5 miles total) and flat. That was exactly what my knees needed. I wanted something not too strenuous or uphill so I could snowshoe for about an hour or so and feel good afterwards.

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The trail we were on was shared with snowmobilers. I’m glad that once we got about a quarter mile into the trail we didn’t see any of them. They were way ahead of us. I did see a bunch of guys being pulled by a snowmobile while they were on snowboards. Looked fun and dangerous!

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Also saw this on our trek:

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Anyone need a nip? I’ll pass! We did a little over an hour and my knees felt great. After our short snowshoe hike, we checked into our room at the resort (deluxe king bed! Woo!) and then went to the hotel bar for happy hour. Michael and I split the parmesan garlic fries and sweet potato fries.

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I also decided to end my February diet. I’d done it for 25 days and was mentally done. As a result of that decision, I kind of went overboard on my foods. I’m pretty sure I gained back what I lost on the diet. Oh well. I was tired of feeling deprived.

At happy hour I also had the BEST drinks. The first was a White Cloud – Vodka, Coconut Rum, creme de cocoa with a dollop of cream on top. It tasted like heaven. I love ever sip of it. After that I had a pina colada martini.

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The bartender made great drinks, was friendly and we had a good experience at the bar.

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A little bit later we went out to dinner at Skyway Bar. It was super close to the resort and boasted fantastic BBQ according to the reviews. The place was a total dive and inside it was a funky space decorated like an antique store. The decor was funky and quirky and absolutely absurd but it worked.

Now, I have to preface this review with the disclaimer that nothing can compare to Franklin’s BBQ in Austin Texas. I will probably never have anything better or anything that even gets close to Franklin’s. Despite that, this BBQ was decent.

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I got the pulled pork sandwich and it came on a ciabatta bun with a small mac n’ cheese on the side. Michael got the 1/2 pound brisket with jalapenos and chipotle sauce. The flavors were good, the meat was soft and flavorful. The mac n’ cheese was REALLY good but still: nothing compares to Franklin’s.

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We spent the rest of the evening in the hotel room watching the Oscars. :) When they were finished we walked back to the hotel bar for dessert. I know! I went CRAZY. But just for one night, really. I was so burned out and done with the diet and all I wanted was some freakin’ dairy. Michael and I shared a dessert: brownie with ice cream. Michael is still doing the gluten-free thing so he got the ice cream and I got the brownie. It worked perfectly.

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The brownie was freshly baked, warm and tasted like the best dessert I’ve ever had. It had been a long month of no treats! Even the bartender remarked that when the plate was cleaned I looked blissful. Hahaha! The brownie was topped with whip cream, a little caramel sauce, dried cranberries and crushed nuts.

Monday morning we planned on going for another snowshoe hike. We had breakfast in the resort restaurant (not the best service and the food wasn’t anything spectacular–which was weird because the bar food and drinks were great). We checked out and headed up the mountain. It had snowed a bunch overnight and they were now requiring chains to go up to Mount Hood. Michael had chains for his car but neither of us really wanted to mess with it.

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I was also nervous about going up the pass when chains were required. That meant the roads were not as safe as they were the day before. Michael drove a little ways up and we turned a corner to where it opens up to a canyon. It’s kind of a scary stretch of road even in the best of conditions and with snowy roads? No thanks! I decided we should turn around and just go home early. The roads weren’t great, chains were required, and such new snow mixed with rain could lead to avalanche warnings.

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So we ended up turning around and it turned out to be the right decision. I saw in the news that a snowstorm hit Mount Hood around noon that day–which is the exact time we would have been up there snowshoeing! Not safe!

I was disappointed that we couldn’t snowshoe again but it was for the best. I had a great time with Michael having a little romantic getaway in the snow. I love groupon getaways! Even if it was just one night, it was a refreshing change.

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