Jan 062015
 

On New Year’s Day we continued our annual tradition of heading up to Mount Hood to play in the snow! I love this tradition of ours and we’ve been lucky in that it’s usually a gorgeous day. This year was no different. It was cold, but once you get moving it was comfortable. We slept in a bit and got a late start; it takes about an hour or so to drive up there from our place. We stopped at the Zig Zag Subway to get sandwich for lunch and ate it in the car before we got started.

We did Trillium Lake, one of our favorites. Here are some old posts on it:

New Year’s Eve in the Snow

How to Burn 1100 Calories in One Workout

Frog Lake to Trillium Lake

I like Trillium Lake because it’s fairly easy and it’s groomed. So while snowshoeing is a great workout in itself, there’s no need to make it a lot harder!! Sometimes groomed is nice. The place was packed when we got there, as usual. It’s a popular spot for cross-country skiing.

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Isn’t that puppy cute! It was so tiny and young and it was loving the snow. This was Bella’s first snowshoeing experience. We didn’t really know what to expect. She loves the snow and she loves hiking, I figured she’d love this, too, and I was right. Check out the video here.

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The trail starts out downhill for almost a mile. Which is a bitch on the way back up after you’re exhausted! The day was gorgeous, sunny and the snow was perfect.

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I took a lot of pictures and got some good ones this year. I was really happy with these close-up snow pictures. It’s so hard to capture the beautiful crystals of snow and ice.

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We got to the bottom of the hill and took a right. It’s the usual route we take and just about half a mile up the road you get to the first (and I think one of the best) views of Mount Hood.

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Here is that first view:

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It looks so close, like you could reach out and touch it. Beautiful mountain! Bella was so excited about the snow. She was running and hopping and thrashing around in the fluffy powder. It was so adorable to watch. We put her new booties on and I am so glad we did. I didn’t want her paws to get frostbite, or for her paw pads to tear or anything. We should have gotten a commission or advertising fee from Amazon because we got SO many questions and comments from people wanting to know where we got the booties. Everyone wanted a pair for their dogs. We also saw a bunch of dogs with booties similar to Bell’s. One dog had booties that lit up! It was crazy.

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We got a passing stranger to take our family pictures. I think that will be our Christmas card next year! And the first selfie of 2015:

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We trekked around the loop, away from the mountain and into the forest. We passed by several little (and big) cabins nestled among the snow and trees. Someday…someday we will rent one of those and pack our stuff in and stay there.

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We kept on walking. We were all feeling good. Bella was still pretty high energy and galloping ahead of us on the trail. (We kept her on leash the whole time for safety reasons). We passed by the spot where we have historically turned around and we kept walking. I’m not sure why. We just kept going. We were feeling good, we were having fun, the weather was good. I didn’t remember how long Trillium Lake was to hike the whole thing but I guess I assumed it wasn’t too far.

We got to a fork in the road and realized we’d hiked a lot longer than we were expecting. We took the left fork that we assumed lead back to the Sno-Park (we were correct in that assumption). Trillium is a dog-bone loop — meaning you hike a little ways before you get to the actual LOOP part of the trail. We’ve made that mistake in the past (when we accidentally did like 7 miles at Ramona Falls because we didn’t know what a dog bone loop was!!!).

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So we realized we were like half way through and it was pointless to turn around and go back the way we came. Even though it hadn’t been the plan, we decided to keep going forward and complete the loop. For the first 3 miles I think, things were good. My body was feeling good, Bella was good. But then we got to Trillium Lake and I realized we’d bitten off more than we could chew.

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The lake looked gorgeous. It was partially frozen over. Mount Hood looked amazing in the distance.

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There was a humongous hawk that flew by just as I took the picture. It was a cool scene. Both Michael and I were feeling the fatigue, though. He was able to get reception on his phone and looked up Trillium Lake–which we realized was 4.5 miles roundtrip. Yikes. That was NOT the plan!

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We left the lake and I opened a protein bar and we split that as we hiked. Bella was REALLY slowing down at this point. I was starting to feel super guilty that we took on so much on our very first snowshoe trip with her! :( I kept saying we were terrible parents. Michael said we weren’t. And he was right, Bella was fine just tired.

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When we left the lake the trail went uphill. UPHILL? Are you kidding me??!! Ugh. My knees were GOOD, my body felt fine, no aches and pains but I was TIRED. I could tell my energy was waning and that my body was fatigued. I was stumbling a bit in the snow. This is a huge sign of “we did too much” for me. I think it’s a lethargy and coordination thing for me. It becomes a struggle.

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The hill was going up, up, up. More uphill. And then the trail turns, and it’s more uphill. Then finally it went downhill for a bit. That’s when we got to the original fork in the road, where we’d taken the right turn at the beginning. That gave me a glimmer of hope because I was in the Despair Stage of the hike. I hadn’t eaten enough calories along the hike, we drank water and took a lot of breaks but probably not enough. This is the “we’re never going to make it back!” part of the trip. 😉

Melodramatic, I know. But that exhaustion just sneaks up on you. I think I even told Michael “you and Bella go on without me. Leave me here. Come back and find my body after the snow melts.” Michael told me to get a grip and reached his hand out and we walked hand-in-hand for a bit. Then it was that last mile of uphill climb back to the sno-park!

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I got to the top and happily took off my snowshoes. We’d hiked 4.5 miles in just under 3 hours and I burned 846 calories! Despite that last mile and a half struggle, it was a super fun day, a good start to the new year and a great workout. And Bella had a blast!

At the parking lot I actually ran into two people I know from the Warrior Room! It was crazy to see people I know on Mount Hood. They explained that they had accidentally hiked back to the wrong parking lot and their car was actually about 2 miles up the road! I told them we’d drive them. There was no way I was going to let them hike back, or walk on the road, after they’d just hiked like 6 miles. I know that panic and despair! So they piled into our car with their little dog and we drove them up the road to their car.

After that Michael and I headed home. We stopped in Sandy at Sparky’s Pizza for dinner. We were both exhausted and shaky and needed food asap.

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It was a little hole in the wall with New York style pizza by the slice. I got a slice of Hawaiian pizza and an order of breadsticks. I was so famished. The food tasted amazing! I ate three breadsticks (I intended on only eating 2 but couldn’t stop because they were so good).

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We both felt a million times better after eating. It’s amazing how delicious food is after you’ve exerted so much energy, burned a lot of calories and were overdue for FOOD! FEED ME.

We got home and I immediate fed Bella a giant portion of dog food, which she wolfed down in 2 seconds (like me with the pizza). Bella put herself to bed almost immediately. I took a really hot bath with epsom salts and soaked my tired body. It was fantastic.

I was happy we got to do our snowshoe tradition AND Bella loved it and did well. I was happy that my knees were great and I didn’t have any pains. I was happy the next day when I was sore but not miserably so. I was happy we started 2015 on a positive note!

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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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