Good Start to 2015

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 Yearโ€™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! ๐Ÿ™ 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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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!

New Year’s Eve in the Snow

Friday morning our alarm went off at 6am. Why would we be getting up soooo freakin’ early on a Friday we don’t have to work? We went snowshoeing! Yay! Michael had excellent foresight by suggesting we get up so early, as well. He said it would be romantic driving up to Mt. Hood seeing the sunrise–which it was–and we’d beat out the crowds.

Mount Hood was spookily quiet and lonely when we got there. In fact we did beat all the traffic and we got a primo parking spot at the Sno-Park.

I wish I had taken a photos of the empty parking lot at Trillium Lake Sno-Park. We were one of about 10 other cars in the lot at 8:30am. That was a different story later in the day.

I watched the temperature drop as we rose in elevation and I even have evidence of how cold it was up there:

Yes, that says 10 Degrees. Luckily it was not snowing or raining and there was hardly any wind. The wind chill was in the negative numbers, so we lucked out big time by picking such a good day to snowshoe. The sun was blinding and instead of goggles we wore sunglasses.

Let me back up one moment. We had bagels and cream cheese for breakfast (and I had coffee) before we hit the road. I also grabbed lots of hand and toe warmers.

I wish I could say that the snowshoeing adventure was a complete success but for the most part it was a fun day–with a few mishaps.

First, Michael and I both had issues with our rented snowshoes. He rented them from Next Adventure here in Portland ($10 each) and his were basically useless. I should have added this tip to yesterday’s post: ALWAYS CHECK YOUR GEAR AT HOME!!!! I totally spaced and just assumed they were fine…I mean, why would a respectable store rent faulty gear? SIGH. We made do with what we had. Michael’s shoes had a faulty boot strap that would not stay attached no matter how hard we both tried. Mine? One of my shoes was missing a plastic buckle so it kept coming undone. In fact, Michael finally gave up, took off the snowshoes and strapped them to his backpack and just walked in his hiking boots. He seemed to be doing alright that way.

I, on the other hand, struggled with mine as well. I was able to keep them on the whole time but I had to stop a lot to adjust the strap. I finally gave up and let it come undone. When we got back to Next Adventure I told the rental guy what happened and he was a total jerk. Had a rude attitude and said the shoes were fine and he wouldn’t refund the money. I said that was fine, that I would never shop there again and just rent all my gear from REI because they were better anyways. ๐Ÿ™‚ I said it very pleasantly. He snarled, “That’s fine we’re out of snowshoes for you to rent anyways.” Whatever. I called later and told the manager what happened. He apologized profusely. I will still never go back and just do ALL of my business with REI in the future.

I digress.

Trillium Lake Sno-Park was easy to find. It was the turn-off right after the turn to Timberline. We easily found parking, peed, dressed in all our gear and then headed out. The trail is a road and it’s pretty wide. I’m not sure what it looks like in the summer time, or if people drive it? The beginning of the trail was a steep downhill through snowy trees. It was very quiet and serene.

While I tell this story keep in mind that we struggled with our crappy shoes this whole time. Once we got to the bottom it leveled out. There was a sign that pointed the way to the Loop. Turning a corner we suddenly saw this view:


It was pretty amazing to walk into a meadow and see Mt. Hood so close it felt like I could touch it! We tried to get some photos of us together in front of the mountain but that proved to be more difficult than you’d think. Plus the sun was blinding.

The trail had enough space for the cross-country skiers to be on one side and have perfect ski paths and the snowshoers took the other side.

We hiked through the winding wilderness and came to a fork in the trail. It looked like it continued onto Barlow Pass trail, or forked left to Trillium Lake. We headed to the lake. We passed by two cabins in the middle of nowhere that are apparently rent-able. I saw skiers dragging their suitcases on sleds behind them. They had to park in the lot and bring all their gear in to the cabins. Now that’s roughing it!

The path was fairly flat and level. My hips seemed to be doing alright, my knee wasn’t bothering me. Michael was doing okay despite not walking in his snowshoes. We passed by some skiers that were building an igloo. It was pretty cool to see! They had some yellow labs with them too and they were very friendly (and cute)!

We trekked on. The trail was suddenly uphill. Not terribly steep but Michael’s back was starting to hurt him. We walked a bit then stopped to rest then walked…finally he said his back hurt too much. We decided to turn around even though we hadn’t gone very far. The shoes not working right, the coldness, his back…I didn’t want to push it. It turned out to be a smart decision to quit early too. Half way back to the car my leg started to hurt badly.

Michael and I were disappointed that we couldn’t go any further. I wanted to at least get to the Lake and see what it looked like. I asked a skier and she said it was still quite a ways away. It was the smart move to turn around. The sun was bright and I was starting to warm up a lot.

We got back to the base of the hill that lead back up to the parking lot. That’s when we saw the THRONGS of people. Clearly we were VERY smart to get up super early and start our day before everyone else. Probably the smartest thing we did. ๐Ÿ™‚ There were probably 50 people or so suddenly coming down the mountain.

I saw lots of newbie skiers attempting to make it down the steep hill. It was pretty humorous. One girl lost one ski and had to chase it down the hill!

There were also cute little kids in tiny snowshoes and tiny skis. Now that was adorable!

My right knee was doing okay but my left leg was bothering me and I was starting to worry about my shin and my Achilles. Luckily we made it back to the top alright.


Plus the parking lot was FULL.

The drive down the mountain was uneventful. Traffic was light for us, not so much the other direction.

We passed by the road to Timberline and it was blocked off with a sign that said “LOT FULL.” People were being turned away at several Sno-Park Lots. We lucked out!

Stats:

Time: 2:03

Calories Burned: 617

Distance: Maybe 2 or 3 miles?


Michael burned around 1,000 calories. Normally we both burn probably twice the amount of calories snowshoeing. However the easy terrain, short distance, and constant stopping to fix the snowshoes made our counts much lower. We stopped at Burgerville for lunch. Michael and I were both crossing over into Crankyville because we were tired and HUNGRY. I got the 3 piece Halibut fish and chips and devoured it.

All in all it was a good time. I really wish we had been able toย  snowshoe the entire loop. After doing only 2 miles or so in the amount of time we did it I think doing the full 6 miles was a silly concept with the time restraints we had. Oh well. It’s a goal for next time!

I brought a bunch of protein bars and GUs for us to eat. I think we both should have eaten some right when we first arrived at Trillium Lake. I think our draining energy levels were part of our problem. Usually we fuel ourselves pretty smartly before things like this but I think we were both distracted by crappy snowshoes (I will be writing more on that later).

QUESTION: Have you played in the snow at all this winter yet?