That left me with only one option.......
|Colorful snowcats, all lined up in a row|
Skiing up the Palmer Lift at Timberline ski area.
Although not exactly the "backcountry," Timberline provided a semi-groomed climber's trail for snowshoers and uphill skiers to follow. And the great thing was, once at the top of the Palmer, you could ski the groomed runs back down.
|Katie strikes a sexy pose|
So on a sunny MLK day, I recruited my friend Katie to join me for a trip up the Palmer. The temps were already above freezing as we approached the beginning of the climber's trail, just outside of Timberline Lodge. A colorful line of snowcats greeted us, and Katie couldn't resist striking a couple of poses next to the machines.
|Timberline Lodge gets small quickly|
Shouldering our backpacks, and strapping on our skis, Katie and I began our slow, uphill climb. Happily chatting away, it didn't take long until I noticed Timberline Lodge becoming smaller and smaller.
We made it to the top of the Magic Mile Lift, a 1000 foot climb, in just under an hour. An occasion for an extended snack break, we took a breather beside the historic Silcox Hut. Normally covered in huge drifts of snow, this year most of the building is visible.
|Katie sees her shadow!|
Continuing from the Magic Mile, we began to follow one of the groomed ski runs from the Palmer. Abundant sunshine meant not only great views, but also nice shadows. I tried to capture a shot of both Katie and I's shadow as we skied side by side, but it didn't work out. The best shadow photograph was this one of Katie by herself (and if she sees her shadow does it mean we'll get six more weeks of winter? Please?)
|Glittering icy slopes|
A ski patrol guy came down the groomed run and nicely told us that for our safety we should be following the climber's trail and not the side of a downhill ski run. So Katie and I struck out cross-country on a patch of crusty snow, to intersect with this trail.
|Skirting the groomed ski run|
We shuffled by bumpy rutted icy snow, small frozen drifts, and one extremely large rock.
|A long uphill trudge|
Finally, we reached the climber's trail. The snowcats using this trail had left it a mess of bumpy, icy snow globs. Not exactly fun to slide skis across. But Katie and I made do the best we could, taking advantage of smoother snow on the track's outer edges.
|Clear skies mean mountain views|
The best part of being up on Mt. Hood this sunny day was the magnificent views. Clouds and fog clung low in the valleys, while Cascade peaks towered above, contrasting against the blue sky. In the above photo, from right to left, is Mt. Jefferson, the Three Sisters, Broken Top, and the small peak with a white gleam on top is Black Butte. It's not often the sky is clear enough to see all these mountains.
Here the trail got steep. Huffing and puffing, I warmed up quickly. Katie and I stripped down to our base layers, only to discover we had on the exact same top! (Evidently both of us do our outdoor gear shopping at REI.)
|Enjoying some hot tea|
The final climb up to the top of the Palmer Lift is always tough. It's super-steep, by this point the legs are tired, and it feels like you'll never get there. I concentrated on sliding one foot in front of the other, promising myself a quick break after each ten strides.
|Yahoo! We made it to the top of Palmer!|
But finally....finally.... the upper lift terminus came into view. Yahoo! Time for a lunch break! I broke out my PB & J and washed it down with a thermos of hot tea. Katie and I perched on a sun-drenched rock and took in the views.
|Now for our reward - a lovely ski down|
It was a mighty fine day to be on the mountain. We enjoyed watching the skiers unload from the lift and start down the groomed run below. The sun's rays warmed our bodies. Slowly, my belly filled, and energy returned to my tired legs.
|Katie pauses to take in the scenery|
Then it was time to reap the reward for our big climb. To cash in those turns we'd earned! Katie and I removed climbing skins from ski bottoms and prepared to have some fun.
|Watch out for the rocks!|
By early afternoon the sun had softened the hard icy groomed run into velvety-smooth snow. Our ski edges glided effortlessly down the slope. Ahhh.....this was the moment we'd worked so hard for.
|Another great trip up the Palmer|
Always great to get out and do a little skiing on a wonderful, sunny winter's day.
Sharing with: Our World Tuesday.