Summer Snow on Mount Hood, Oregon

On one of my trips to visit a friend in Portland, Oregon, we took a couple days to go hang out with people we knew in Hood River. After joining them we would head up to Mount Hood. The unique thing about this June trip was that we were going snowboarding. Well, actually the girls were going snowboarding and we boys were going to hike…or drink, or do whatever we could find to entertain ourselves.

Mount Hood with blue sky (Photo by Blue in Portland)

Mount Hood (Photo by Blue in Portland)

We set out from Portland and went to Hood River, Oregon. We met our friends at Full Sail Brewing Company where one of them worked. We relaxed on the deck and took in the panoramic views of the Columbia River and mountains beyond. Hood River is known as the wind-surfing capital of the world, a fact that is evident in the many colorful sails that can be seen on the river. After enjoying a meal and a few pints of the brewery’s summer I.P.A we retired to our friend’s house. The rest of the evening we sat on their roof exchanging stories and catching-up until late in the night.

After a few hours sleep it was time to head to Mount Hood. When Mount Hood is your destination it’s easy to see what direction you must go. The majestic 11,245 ft. tall volcano, the tallest mountain in Oregon, seems to always be part of the view. We grabbed some breakfast at a diner in Government Camp, just south of Mt. Hood. Government Camp is a small town that serves as a gateway to several ski resorts; Timberline Lodge, Mt. Hood Skibowl, Summit Ski Area, and Mount Hood Meadows.

Mt. Hood in the distance from Portland (photo by Blue)

Mt. Hood (photo by Blue)

Mount Hood seen from near the Portland Airport

Mt. Hood from near Portland Airport

Our next stop was the Timberline Lodge. The magnificent ski lodge was made a National Historic Landmark in 1977. Many visitors come to Mount Hood just to see the Timberline Lodge. The lodge was part of the Federal Works Project during the Great Depression. It was built in fifteen months and finished September 28, 1937. Shots of the Timberline Lodge are used at the beginning of the movie, The Shining, to represent the fictional Overlook Hotel in the 1980 movie. Several overhead shots of the lodge are also used throughout the movie.

Mt. Hood and Timberline Lodge 1943

Mt. Hood and Timberline Lodge 1943

 The girls went to get their lift tickets and we wandered around the impressive lodge. A sign in the lobby tells you that the lodge sits at an elevation of 6,000 feet above sea level. The snowfall averages around 400-500 inches per year. Their long ski season runs from late October to Labor Day, but you can get on limited, lift-accessible snow all summer.

Photo of Mt. Hood with blue sky behind (by Blue in Portland)

Photo of Mt. Hood (by Blue in Portland)

When the ladies headed up the mountain on the lift, we decided to start walking up. At the start of the walk it was very warm and the there was dry dirt and rocks under our feet. Continuing up the incline, we felt the breeze become cool as it blew over the glacier. After about a half mile of walking, 500 feet or so of vertical incline, we were walking on the snow. Walking up a mountain in June, wearing shorts, watching snowboarders go by, was definitely a unique experience.

Mt. Hood (11,245) from about 7000 ft. in summer

Mt. Hood (11,245) from about 7000 ft.

Exhausted, we reached the area where the lift deposits the skiers at about 7,500 feet (if my memory serves me well). To our surprise there was a place there to buy beverages. We stood on the mountain, enjoyed a cold beer, and took in the awesome view. At this point, we realized we could ride the lift even if we weren’t skiing or snowboarding. We relaxed and rode the lift back down to the Timberline Lodge. Maybe next time we’ll do it the right way; take the lift up and walk back down.

On Mt. Hood looking down towards the lodge in summer

On Mt. Hood looking down towards the lodge. The snow field seems small until you realize that the little specs on the snow are people skiing.

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