Well, back from our round the world trip we decompressed for a while at our parents' homes and then regrouped in Houston. We drove West, looking at towns along the way, until we came to Missoula, which we figured was about as good as it was going to get.
We lived in a campground for a few weeks until the Porterette got a job, and then we got a house on Main Street. I flew to Houston and retrieved our furniture et. al. and made the drive back. Fall came. Winter began. I looked and looked for a job. Finally, I found one. I got the good news two weeks ago, but the job was not to start until Dec. 7. So, to fill the time, I decided to go skiing in Oregon.
I left Missoula the day after Thanksgiving at 9 a.m., drove over Lookout Pass in light snow, and stopped in Spokane for gas and groceries before cutting southwest across Washington to Umatilla, the Columbia River Gorge, and finally a narrow forest road where I camped at the snowline.
Saturday: good morning Mt. Adams!
I took a shortcut up to Mt. Hood Meadows, only the road was unplowed and I had to turn around just 5 miles short of the highway. An unfortunate 60-mile detour ensued.
Up on Mt. Hood I picked up a Sno-park pass and visited various trailheads before settling on White Salmon.
I climbed for 5 hours in and out of fog.
Suddenly I heard voices and car doors slamming. I looked up and I was at Timberline Lodge. I climbed up the south face of Hood for another hour before dropping in. Some good snow, some bad snow. Nice views all around.
Back to the truck by sunset.
I slept in the truck in a Sno-park.
Sunday: Coffee in Government Camp.
I checked out Summit and Mt. Hood Ski Bowl, both areas I'd been interested in, but with a forecast of clear skies and calm winds I decided to climb Hood. Hood's a simple climb, but a rather monotonuous one, too. The view is unchanged for about the first 4 hours. I skinned above the Palmer Snowfield and kept going.
At the caldera rim, at about 10,200 feet, I decided I was getting over my head.
The summit proper. It's all ice axes and crampons from here on up.
A long, long ski down. Drove to Redmond, got groceries, and camped in the truck near Sisters.
Monday: Coffee in Sisters then skiing on Santiam Pass. Not much to ski up here within an easy walk of the road, and no refreeze overnight meant manky snow. I got in two runs on a black butte next to Hoodoo ski area.
I drove down to Bend and walked around a while. We had thought about moving to Bend, so it was interesting to have a look. It reminded me of some cities in Colorado: clean, livable, unaffordable and highly masterplanned -- much of the city felt like a golf course community. Drove up toward Bachelor and slept in the truck in a Sno-park.
Tuesday: Five cars in the lot at Bachelor but I skinned up Tumalo. Nice.
Drove down to Willamette Pass and slept in a Sno-park. I was exhausted and fell asleep at 9.
Tuesday: I was woken up at 2 by the sounds of an engine turning over. I looked out the window and there was a truck parked 20 feet from mine cranking but not catching. Weird? A trap? Drunk? I piled my clothes on and went outside. The truck was still there but the driver was gone. It was an ODOT Dodge Ram. In the morning it was still there.
I drove to Willamette Pass ski area and was surprised to see it closed: weekends only in the early season. With few options, I decided to drive to Crater Lake National Park.
I climbed a peak adjacent to the rim lodge. In firm snow it was easier to boot than skin.
Well, Crater Lake: it speaks for itself.
A 2-hour climb. On the run down I ran into every conceivable form of snow, including 20 turns of deep recrystalized powder that made the trip.
I drove back to Bend, and back to Sistes where I camped in the forest. I was awoken in the night by something crunching on the snow but when I looked out there was nothing there.
Wednesday: After coffee I went back up Santiam, this time plunking down $42 to ski at Hoodoo.
There was, quite literally, almost no one there.
Not a bad little mountain, complete with everyone's favorite ski run.
It was a cold day and I knocked off 15 minutes early for the drive to Bend, where I stopped at Trader Joe's to stock up on groceries and then made the drive to Pendleton. I took back roads and kept having to check my maps and it made for a long night. Slept in the truck in a rest area off I-84. Not as bad as it sounds.
Friday: up at 6 and coffee in Pendleton, then drove to Ski Bluewood, near Dayton, Wa.
Bluewood is a smallish area but has good snow and great tree skiing. A cold, cold day.
I skied until the lift closed then drove to Lewiston, Id. I meant to have my first hot meal of the trip but that city's screwy series of overpasses, bridges and intersections thwarted all attempts to get to Taco Time, so it was another night of sandwiches and chips in the truck. Slept in the truck at a rest area east of town.
Saturday: Woke to an inch of fluffy snow. The drive to Montana is 170 miles of this:
Hardly a town, a home or a gas station. Just three hours of wilderness driving.
At Lolo Pass it was 12 and snowing sideways. I made a run on the Montana Shot but there was not quite enough snow to really turn. So I decamped, packed and was in Missoula 45 minutes later.