Thursday, May 13, 2010

Alpine Trail

I had heard of the Alpine Trail before, but I didn’t know what it was. Last year I was finally introduced to the area. It is now one of my favorite places to ride, especially before the season starts.

In the late fall it usually starts snowing on Mt. Hood, but none of the resorts are open yet. Riders like my friends and I start chomping at the bit to go boarding, and the Alpine Trail is our sanctuary. It is a three-mile trail that goes from Timberline Lodge to Government Camp, and you don’t need a chairlift to ride it. If you have two cars you can park one at Summit in Government Camp and drive the other up to Timberline and park. If you only have one you park at Summit and hitchhike up Timberline Road…don’t worry it’s safe, and lots of people do it.

One day three of my friends and I decided to ride the trail first thing in the morning. It had snowed really hard the night before so there were feet of powder. We thought, “How perfect is this. Untouched powder just for us!” It was all for us and we had our work cut out for us.

The snow was so deep that after riding for 10 or 20 feet the snow would build up on our boards making us stop dead in our tracks. We took turns riding until we couldn’t go anymore, and then the next person would ride in the track and hopefully get enough speed to clear another 10 or 20 feet of path. The four of us did this for a few hours (the trail usually takes a half hour or so) and finally took a break. Three snowboarders came behind us and we let them clear the rest of the way while we hung out and caught our breath.

We finally made it to the bottom where we rehydrated and refueled for a few more runs. The day was so much fun. We didn’t even mind waiting at the bottom of Timberline Road for someone to pick us up. We had fun belly flopping in the snow, making snow angels and goofing off in Summit’s parking lot.

I love the Alpine Trail!

Mt. Hood Cribs

There are tons of people employed on Mt. Hood. Ever wonder where they stay? Some drive back and forth from Portland or Hood River. Some rent a place between those two places, such as, Parkdale, Welches or Sandy. Some stay in apartments or houses in Government camp, where there’s always something to do. But, this guy has it figured out. He lives in his RV on the mountain. It’s like owning a house that you can take wherever you want. To watch the first episode of Mt. Hood Cribs click here.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Where to Stay

I hate getting up early to make it to opening chair. The best way to avoid that is by staying up at the mountain. I have stayed in quite a few different places and here is my Top 5 list of places to stay:

  1. A house in Government Camp. If you can get a few people to chip in, you can get a nice house for pretty cheap. Houses are nice because you can cook instead of eating at a restaurant, and a lot of houses have hot tubs.
  2. Mt. Hood Inn. It is across the street from Skibowl so you can walk if the parking lot is full. It is reasonably priced and has a hot tub, waxing room and a great continental breakfast. It is at the bottom of Government Camp, which has restaurants, bars and shops.
  3. Timberline Lodge. It is historic and has an awesome restaurant. It is a little expensive, but the rooms are comfortable and you can walk out the door and go riding.
  4. Silcox Hut at Timberline. It is literally on the mountain and comes with a private cook. It is a short snow cat ride to the hut, so you have to pack all of your gear in. It is pretty rustic, but fun if you can get a lot of people together to chip in because it is expensive!
  5. Cooper Spur. It is on the Hood River side of the mountain so it’s much closer to Meadows than to Timberline or Skibowl. There is a wide range of prices because you can choose from the hotel or cabins. It has it’s own chairlift and three outdoor hot tubs.

There are lots of other places to stay in Government Camp, Hood River and the towns below the mountain such as Welches and Zig Zag, but these are my favorite.

Shopping Around

Staying dry on the mountain is a must. Riding is no fun when you are wet and cold. Like most people starting out, I had gear that was somewhat water resistant, but definitely not waterproof. I would start out dry, but if it was snowing I’d be soaked in a few hours. I have learned that if you want to stay dry it is an investment that is well worth it, and if you buy stuff on sale you can do if for fairly inexpensive.

At the end of a season, or just before it starts, most stores will have their stuff on sale for up to 50% off. The Ski Fever and Snowboard Show takes place every October in Portland and you can find great deals. The U.S. Outdoor Store also has great deals. It carries last season’s gear for 50% off year round.

My entire set up, from board to goggles is worth well over $1,000, but I shopped around and got good deals.

Board: Ride Kink — $450; I paid $234

Bindings: Burton Missions — $190; I paid $89

Boots: Nike Zoom Force 1 — $250; I paid $180

Socks: Fox motocross socks — $20; I paid $15

Base layer: Under Armour Cold Gear — $100; I paid full price, Under Armour is never on sale!

Pants: Oakley Gretchen Bleiler pants — $210; I paid $105

Jacket: Ride Ballard jacket — $190; I paid $99

Gloves: Pow Pipe gloves: $75; I paid $10

Goggles — Smith Phenom — $130; I paid, well I didn’t they were a Christmas present, but my boyfriend paid $120.

So, if I had paid full price, it would have cost me $1540. I shopped around and found all my gear on sale and paid just $942. That still seems like a lot, but it’s a small price to pay to stay warm on the mountain that I spend all my free time on.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Riding Under the Lights

In the movie, “The Sandlot,” Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez can’t wait for the 4th of July because it means he gets to play baseball at night under the light of the fireworks. I know just how he feels, like a pro, indestructible and invincible. That’s exactly how I feel when I ride at night. Like I can jump higher and ride more advanced rails. I don’t know if it’s the fact that there are less people, or if it’s because when I got serious about boarding I was going every Friday night. What ever it is, I love riding under the lights.

Skibowl is the largest night ski area in North America, and aren’t we lucky that it’s right on Oregon's own Mt. Hood. Skibowl has the entire mountain lit up at night, which is different from the other resorts that only have one or two runs lit up. You can ride in all the same places at night as you can during the day, but it’s night so there are shadows chasing you all the way down the mountain. It feels eerie, but in a good way.

My friends and I like to ride to the top, take a quick break at Champagne Hill and then head for the park off of Multipor, which we ride for most of the night. The park is different at night, there aren’t lines of people waiting for their turn to drop in; it’s just us and a few other people. We usually ride in a big group and we tend to dominate the park so people don’t get in our way. I know I sure wouldn’t get in the way of a group of 10 boarders riding together!

And the best thing about riding at night? Not having to get up at 6 in the morning to make it to the mountain for the first chair! And the worst thing is trying to take pictures in the dark!