snowshoes

Snow Baby

Well Michael and I managed to continue our New Year’s Day tradition! Snowshoeing at Trillium Lake!

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In case you weren’t aware, it had been raining for the last 30 days straight here in Portland. In early December there was actually epic flooding as well. Bad news. Good news? Our mountain finally got SNOW!!! The weather has been pretty good this past week–very little rain but cold, cold, cold. Ice on the car in the mornings, wind chill that will make your eyes water and your joints ache. But still, there was snow on Mt. Hood! Last winter was pathetic (there was no snow in Bend!).

I wasn’t quite sure how it would go this year. I didn’t *think* snowshoeing would be hard pregnant — I mean, it’s really just walking — but I really no idea.

A friend of Michael’s got snowshoes for Christmas and asked if he could join us. We said sure but warned him we didn’t know how much I would be able to do. I knew it would not be like last year where we accidentally ended up doing nearly 5 miles (the entire Trillium Lake loop) which was too much for our bodies to handle, too much for the first time out snowshoeing for the season and WAY too much for Bella’s first time.

We actually ended up leaving Bella home this year. The weather was supposed to peak at around 15 degrees at Government Camp when we planned on being there and that was just too cold for Bella. I think we made the right call, even though we both felt sad that we couldn’t take her out to play in the snow (which she loves). I felt guilty when we got home, too, because she missed out. But it was the right decision–even with her fleece lined jacket it would have been too cold for her on the mountain since she doesn’t have fur or long hair.

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We planned on being up on the mountain by 10 because it’s usually pretty crowded and I’d heard earlier in the week from some people that the lot was full by 10am. We got a little bit of a later start than planned but were at Trillium Lake around 10:30. We got a parking spot (barely) and the lot was even more full when we were done!

I discovered that none of my snow gear fit. I had a feeling it would be tight, but didn’t think it would be unusable. That was disappointing. And since it was going to be such a cold day on the mountain I was a little worried about not being warm enough. I wore my long underwear (those fit for the most part), some sweat pants and a sweater, then wore a pair of Michael’s waterproof cycling pants over that instead of my snow pants. The gators I wore on my legs protected me enough from the snow and I was warm enough but it sure wasn’t good “snow” gear and definitely not breathable materials.

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We set out on the path down the steep hill and then took a right to get the best view of Mt. Hood.

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Gorgeous day!

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Baby bump on the mountain!

Snowshoeing seemed ok. I wasn’t really having any issues. I was definitely slower this year than in years past but I was trucking along. We went by the mountain and came to a fork in the road. The left goes around the lake and that’s usually the route we go. The other fork goes to another sno-park (I think maybe Mazamas?). We took that one instead.

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It was pretty flat in this part. There was a cute little cabin buried in the snow deep in the woods. It had huge icicles on the roof and snowdrifts were doing a good job hiding it.

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We hiked by a creek that I’d never seen before (or maybe just didn’t notice). Around this time my left ankle was starting to bug me a little bit–the achilles tendon. I wasn’t sure why and it wasn’t constant. Later when we were done I realized my hiking boot had come untied underneath all my layers and my gators so that was probably the reason why. It was slightly painful and very annoying.

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We’d been hiking for about an hour and decided to turn around. I was still feeling pretty good but wanted to turn around and be closer to the starting point just in case. If we got back to the base of the giant hill and I felt ok I said we could do the other part of the loop that goes towards the lake but I wanted to wait and see.

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We turned around and hiked back. I got to practice using my new camera on this adventure, which was nice. It takes great photos.

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Someone made a snow Alien:

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We got back to the viewpoint and took a few more pictures and then continued on. I realized I was pretty much done and Michael was, too. His hips were starting to bug him and so were mine.

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The last leg of the journey is the worst. It’s that never-ending climb up the hill to the parking lot. It’s so long and just when you turn a corner and think you’re at the top, you’re not. It’s very deceptive and harder than it looks and it gets me EVERY YEAR. This year was no different. Half-way up the hill I was over it. I was so slow. Just plugged along, taking baby steps because I was tired and starting to get sore. But finally made it to the top and then had to traverse the icy parking lot and the traffic of people trying to fight for spots to park.

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We ended up hiking 3 miles in 2 hours and I burned 793 calories.

It was a good trek out, I’m glad we did it and I’m glad I was ABLE to do it…but I’m pretty sure that was my one and only snowshoeing trek this year. Not having good snow clothes that fit are deterring me from wanting to try again. But I will say, physically, I was okay snowshoeing at almost 30 weeks pregnant. Other than carrying around an extra 20 pounds and being a little slower, it wasn’t that much different!

We were back in the car and heading down the mountain by 1pm, which meant we missed all the afternoon/evening traffic of skiers heading back to town. The pizza place we liked to go to was closed so we ended up getting sandwiches at Subway. I was famished and baby was kicking me for some food. Happy to oblige. Got home and immediately took a long, hot bath with Epsom salts. I knew I was going to be sore the next day!

6pm came around and I felt so depleted and exhausted I actually laid down and fell asleep for a nap. I’m not a napper. Like ever. But I guess the day caught up to me. Dinner was Papa Murphy’s pizza because the burger-fries-milkshake I was craving from a place near the house was closed.   🙁 Oh well. Food was food. I definitely didn’t eat enough calories for the day and I think that’s part of the reason I was so tired. That and trudging through the snow!

Preparing for a Snowshoe Tour

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!