Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Glade and Alpine Ski Trails

Although I've been skiing a ton at the resorts this winter, my backcountry ski gear has been sorely neglected.  This past President's Day I decided to change that and revisit a trail I'd done over the same weekend in 2014, the Glade Ski Trail.

Trailhead is at the end of this road

At the base of Mt Hood lies the tiny village of Government Camp.  Consisting of condos, ski shops, and cute vacation chalets, many trails fan out into the woods above this charming hamlet.  A few ski trails connect Govy (as the locals affectionately call their town) with Timberline Ski Area.  Two of the most well-known are the Glade and Alpine trails.

LOTS of snow this year!

Although I'd skied up and then down the Glade three years ago, the Alpine was a "new to me" ski trail.  I decided my plan for the day would be to ski up the Glade and then locate and take a trip down the Alpine trail, and return to my starting point via the Crosstown Trail.  A nifty six-mile loop and good bit of exercise for a snowy February morning.

Glade Trailhead

Temps were hovering right around the freezing mark when I parked my car along Govy's main drag and hoofed it three blocks up a residential street leading to the Glade's trailhead.  Giant snowbanks lining the road were evidence of this year's colossal snowfall.  Some homes had barely a slot tunneled into the snow to park their vehicles, while decks and rooftops sported thick blankets of the white stuff.

Ready to start

Heavy wet snow pelted my face as I attached climbing skins to skis and prepared for the day's journey.  After a couple of photos, I shouldered my backpack and was off.

Easy to follow, the Glade parallels an old clearing used for the short-lived Mt Hood Skiway, a unique transportation system in the 1950's that used regular city buses suspended on cables to shuttle skiers from Government Camp to Timberline Lodge.

Action selfie

The heavy, wet snow made for some slow going.  Globs of snow began sticking to my climbing skins, necessitating frequent stops to clear the undersides of my skis.  The warm temps had me sweating in no time.  I made more stops to shed clothing and of course, take photos.  One time I even laid my camera on the snow and used the self-timer to get a few action shots.

Uphill climb through the forest

About halfway, frustration mounting due to the constant sticky snow underfoot, I finally dug a block of skin wax out of my backpack and applied it to the climbing skins.  I'd bought the stuff many years ago, and this was the first time I'd ever used it.  I'm happy to report the stuff worked.  It made the going much easier thereafter, so I guess it was a good investment.

I spot the ski lift

The trail alternated between being mildly steep to navigating a few sharp uphills.  A couple of older cross country skiers passed me (I swear I'm the slowest uphill skier ever!) and I pumped them for information on where to find the Alpine Trail.

And then, just when I thought the trail would go on forever, I spotted a lift tower of Timberline's Stormin' Norman chairlift.  Hooray!

Entrance to Timberline Ski Area

The previous trip, I'd continued up Timberline's ski runs another 1000 vertical feet to it's famous lodge.  But not really wanting to dodge crowds of downhill skiers, I decided today's uphill trip would end at the ski area boundary.

There's the sign!

So I stood in the snow just beyond the rope, changed into a warmer jacket, donned my helmet, and peeled climbing skins off my skis.  Several skiers zipped by, a few stopping to inquire what I was doing.  When I told them I'd skied up from Govy, they were all impressed.

Beginning of the Alpine Trail

Up at this higher elevation the snow wasn't as wet and instead blanketed the ground in a soft layer.  I was happy for this - my gloves and hat were soaked from the wet snow-rain (or as I like to call it, "snain")

Ready for some downhill turns!

I was a little apprehensive about finding the Alpine Trail.  The other skiers I'd met directed me to travel down Timberline's Kruser run for a short distance, and I'd see it.  So I joined the other folks on this busy slope.  Not keen on having to retrace my steps uphill, I kept an eagle eye out for the sign.   And, just as I was told, it didn't take but a minute and I spotted a wide clearing with another sign.  Yahoo!

Lovely path through the woods

After two hours of grueling uphill sliding, it was time to reap my reward!  The newly-fallen snow looked wonderful.  I couldn't wait to sink my ski edges into it. 

Snow-covered fir tree

But these local trails were not groomed, and I found out quickly that the underlying snow was uneven and crusty.  After hitting a couple of surprise bumps and wiping out, I decided to slow down.  Cautiously sliding short distances, I made my downhill trip last a bit longer. 

Tons of moss

That was okay - the adjacent forests were quite lovely.  One section was lined with interesting moss-draped trees.  Another stretch featured a bunch of cute firs, flocked with a coating of winter white.  I felt like I was in a Christmas tree farm.

Challenging portion of the Alpine Trail

The Alpine Trail was steeper than the Glade and a few of the narrow, uneven segments were quite challenging.  With better snow conditions, I would have had no problems, but today's crunchy snow caused me to take it easy (self preservation!)

Time to put the skins back on my skis

Even with my slow downhill pace, I reached the bottom in about 15 minutes.  The trail's terminus met up with one of tiny Summit Ski area's groomed runs.  After the Alpine uneven terrain, it felt good to glide on a groomer.  But now I kept my eyes peeled for the Crosstown Trail, the final leg of my journey.

Another action selfie

The Crosstown Trail was even rougher than the Alpine.  Mainly a snowshoe route connecting Govy's ski trails, it meandered through the trees behind some vacation homes.  Lumpy snow trampled by hundreds of snowshoers, navigating the track was a challenge.  After a couple of uphills had me sliding backwards, I decided to put climbing skins back on my skis.

Pretty creek

But the scenery was wonderful.  More snowy trees and a cute little creek to cross.  I placed my camera on a tree stump to get a few more action shots, and was surprised by a family of snowshoers, who graciously offered to take my picture.

"Skiville, Oregon"

Ending back at the Glade trailhead, the snowfall was again bordering on slushy rain.  Now soaking wet from being out in the weather all morning, I decided the day's journey was done.  Time to change clothes at my car and find a hot drink in town.

While walking back through Govy's streets, I passed by a cute little cabin.  A sign above the upper door proclaimed it "Skiville, Oregon."  I kind of liked the moniker....maybe Government Camp should consider a new name?

Six miles traveled, and 1000 feet of elevation gain - a great day to be up on the mountain!


  1. Este foi um ano de muita neve, gostei bastante de ver estas belas fotografias.
    Um abraço e continuação de boa semana.

    Dedais de Francisco e Idalisa

  2. ...pretty, but I'm ready for spring.

  3. You reminded me of all the wonderful backcountry ski trips I used to take in Colorado, years ago. I would hike up five miles and then whisk down the same trail in a jiffy! Beautiful shots, Linda. :-)

  4. Hello, I am just amazed. The place looks empty of people, you are an adventurer. Lovely snowy scenes from your ski trip. I am such a wimp when it comes to the snow and cold. I love that cute cabin. Wonderful series of photos. Have a happy day!

  5. Beautiful photos, Linda! It looks like a wonderful time! Thank you so much for sharing.

  6. You are a real "trooper" when it comes to skiing. Which by the way your ski's are very colorful. Enjoyed the trip you took. Still I'm glad that I wasn't on it because I don't like the cold.

  7. Enjoyed following your footsteps and taking in the scenery.

  8. What a great day despite the weather, perfect scenery. I'd love to have a cabin in the mountains near a ski area.

  9. Quite the ski trip and glad you made it all safely. Snow covered tree and Skiville cabin are great photos...well all of the them are good. I like how you manage to take selfies from your camera! Good idea!

  10. Glad you managed to get out and enjoy some snow even if the weather was less than encouraging. Sticky snow is a real pain to ski in!

  11. Wow, what a workout! And in such beautiful scenery!

  12. Such amazing beauty Linda! I have loved doing this sort of skiing in the past. No place like a quiet snowy woods! Your shots and enthusiasm are wonderful! Happy April to you!

  13. Wow - what good exercise! I haven't used my touring skis since January. Our snows now are definitely snain!
    I'm still skiing downhill, but our area closes April 25th. I'm leaving for the beach last week of April - counting the days. I like the photos of your winter wonderland.

  14. Great pictures, as always, Linda!

  15. You are very brave to ski all alone. Be careful out there! The snow and your photos are very pretty! :)

  16. Really hope I get to see some snow this year - and if I manage too I suspect it wont be as much as this.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  17. Looks similar to the Cairngorm trails here through pine forests in the foothills. I've used wax on the artificial runs on plastic in summer and it does make a real difference to the speed.

  18. Wow! It looks like a adventure for me. You are very brave and tough. I really enjoyed this post. Thanks for sharing.

  19. Sounds like you had a great adventure! Two hours uphill for a 15-minute downhill though... that's dedication. You got some beautiful forest and snow photographs; lovely!

  20. I think this was a wonderful "snow heaven" winter into Spring for you this year, Linda! Wonderful photos!

  21. Love that cabin! I always snicker at people who skin endlessly for a short run, but they snicker at me for snowshoeing up and then having to snowshoe down.


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