Notes from Windward: #67
Three Timberline Views
Different ways to enjoy the mountain
Snowboarding on Mount Hood was a lot of fun. I've been snowboarding since a few years back when I wanted to challenge myself to a new sport. I still remember vividly the day my parents gave me a snowboard for my birthday. Elated I jumped on my mom to hug her which resulted in a grand scheme of events… the weight of me jumping on her on the antique coach resulted in the coach crumpling to the ground, which scared our cat who promptly knocked over portraits of our ancestors. Luckily, upon realizing that everything could be fixed, the look of horror on my mother's face gradually diminished, but to this day it remains a memory in which I never quite know whether it's appropriate to cringe or laugh.
Since then snowboarding has been something I've enjoyed immensely. Counter intuitively, a lot of the joy I get from the sport stems from my fear of the mountain, knowing that which each turn I make my board could catch an edge and flip me, but being forced to turn anyways. The thrill comes from the success of turning, the speed in which I get when I go down the mountain, all the while acutely aware of my vulnerability. So when Walt asked us if we wanted to go to Mt. Hood I was amazed that the ski resort was still open in May and would be all summer.
It took a while for me to get back in the hang of it since I haven't been snowboarding in a while (there are no mountains in Minnesota) but soon fell into the swing of things. It's easy to get into a relaxed and meditative state where you're turning and gliding and then turning again, all the while being overcome with the scenery and the wind up against your face. It was an awesome trip and I'm glad I was able to see more of Washington than I had before.
We arrived at Mt. Hood at 8:00 am at which point Walt helped me unload my bike for the ride up. I mounted her and made less than a quarter mile to the spot Walt had stopped take a few shots of me climbing. My heart had already started picking up the pace. This climb was going to be a butt breaking climb and had three hours time to meet Becca and Walt at the top for lunch.
The first three miles melted quickly. There was two day old snow which lay on the roadside, un-melted in the shade of the forest. I stopped along several lengths of road from which I beheld large expanses of hills and valleys, in which snow capped Mt. Jefferson is embedded. The higher I climbed the more I resorted to walking. I took to keeping my camera out so that when a car approached I could whip it out and pull the wide-eyed-awed tourist persona.
At mile six, I stopped worrying about impressing the passing traffic, put away the camera and kept on trudging up the mountain. As I rounded the final corner into the parking lot I was jamming to the inner tune of "Great Balls of Fire."
By the time I'd gotten into the lodge and set up at a table with Mr. Shakespeare peanut butter candies and a large bottle of water I'd taken off three layers of sweat soaked shirts and sweaters and hadn't brought extra clothing to replace them. Becca and Walt joined me at 11:00 for lunch to tell fun tales from the trails. We talked and ate until 12:00 then they headed back up to the slopes and I sat down for some more reading until 2:00 before gearing up for the ride down.
The decent was much more nerve racking than I had anticipated. My hands squeezed the breaks the whole way down. As the cold wind blew through my sweater my jaw would tighten and breath became shallow. It took all of fifteen minutes to reach the bottom; from there I turned right and headed towards Portland. The six miles that I rode were all downhill. I rode the mountain curves while looking into the dark green hilly landscape, quite exhilarating.
When the morning's ride started taking a toll I pulled off to the side of the road and looked around for a place to take a nap. I lay down in a sun soaked bed of moss, hidden by the trees, and fell asleep to the sound of cars rushing by and birds a tweeting. Once more I got up and headed out about a mile or two to find out at what mile post I was at so that Becca and Walt could pick me up. I pulled off by the ZigZag River and took another brief nap on a sun baked stone by the side of the river. A few minutes later, a sleepy Becca and tired Walt picked me up by the river side and we headed homeward.
Timberline Lodge in spring is sort of like having access to your own private mountain resort, a place where you get to see and do things that wouldn't otherwise be available. For example, this day's treat was that the U.S. Snowboarding team was on the slopes doing some off-season training. Given the general lack of crowds, they were able to do some intense downhill training, and it was a lot of fun to see them flying by. It's an exciting sport to watch on television, but that pales compared to the kick you feel when they swoosh by an arm's length away.
The run in the picture is Timberline's "Stormin' Norman," a straight track that drops some 800 feet in less than a mile so it's a good run for folks to hone their down hill skills. With few people on the slope to work around, the team was making the most of it, and put on quite a show.
Going to Timberline Lodge was more of pilgrimage for me. My parents had their honeymoon there--before it was remodeled.
As I wandered around trying to imagine it the way it was when they were there I was so impressed. Impressed by the construction of the Lodge, the
artistry/craftsmanship of it. I have a love of wood and Timberline has all the elements that make a building awesome to me, huge beams, carved stair posts, wooden floors. Everything massive, rough hewn, speaking to me of a time when craftsmanship and longevity mattered.
There is a small room off on one side that has a continuous running video about Timberline and the Depression. The video runs about half an hour but could be MUCH longer. It's just enough to give a taste of what the times were like and bits and pieces about Timberline. I watched it while sitting on a bench that had been part of a huge tree. I had conflicting ideas within about the virgin timber that was used to build Timberline and the forests we'd lost because of Timberline. It's still rather confusing to me. Was the highest use for those trees to be built into a resort for the idle rich? Did that make more room for new trees? Did they replant trees in place of the giants they took down? But on with the tour before I become too melancholy.
There are beautiful examples of marquetry on display. I liked the one of the cougar best. The intricate cuts, shades of light to dark woods. The old photographs were enjoyable too. That quality of time stopped for a moment, captured, and then I ask myself questions or make up stories about how those people lived.
I hope to go back to Timberline again to revel in my dreams of the past, enjoy the grounding of the present and prayers for tomorrow.
Notes From Windward - Index - Vol. 67