Sunday, February 3, 2013

Trillium Lake in Snow

Trillium Lake Snow Shoe

Trillium Lake is one of the quintessential Mt. Hood destinations. Whether in summer or in winter, if the sun is shining, you will find a host of people out enjoying this beautiful location.

Today was an especially sunny day. Portlanders are getting tired of the winter and perhaps a little antsy, the sno-park parking lot was completely full when we rolled in around 11:00. Luckily there was still a lot of parking across 26 at Snow Bunny sno-park. I actually don't recommend doing what we did (which was park on the other side of the highway and walk over). The traffic really comes roaring down 26 at that point and it turns out that it is very hard to see the East bound traffic from the South side of the road.

We did survive this time. Perhaps with just a touch more adventure that was strictly necessary.

The Hike starts out on a medium steep grade. About a 200 foot descent to the level of the lake, and then a loop around it. A lot of people were bunched up at the trailhead. Putting on snowshoes and Nordic skiis, Taking off the same, dealing with dogs and children. The usual fun.


Hula Hooper Crossing

That first hill is a great place for people who have never done Cross Country Skiing before to try out the new skis they got for Christmas and amuse the rest of us with a few face plants. Ah, I still remember my first cross-country ski trip with some guys from the MIT ski team and this girl I really liked. Those face plants are the reason I am on snowshoes today.

The whole downhill and loop trek is a 2 lane road in the summer. Now it is a well groomed snow play area, Walkers stay on the outside of the loop, skiers in the tracks on the inside of the loop. If you are in show shoes and get bored, you can always take off through the woods.

For the first mile or so it is sort of difficult to figure out what all of the fuss is about, just a wide road with lots of people out to enjoy the day. But then you hit the dam that creates Trillium lake and you sort of figure it out.

Today was a great view of Mount Hood. In the picture above, if you look closely, you can see Timberline Lodge and the Miracle Mile ski lift that takes people up to ski on the only year round ski destination in America. We are planning on going up there for dinner, so more on that later.

We wanted to walk around the lake, so we took of sort of cross country doing a counter clockwise loop. We got off the trail and walked out on the lake. We were careful to stay close to the shore and away from areas that looked week or wet, though my honest thought is that you could have driven a car out on the ice in complete safety. Still, no one was skiing across the middle...... But that does look like a part of a snowman out there....

We stopped at a little peninsula and made ourselves some lunch. Chip had his quick boil device and cheese board, I had the food and my trusty pocket knife. We had soup and sandwiches with a nice tillamook cheddar; all very civilized. And we had this great view.

Copyright (C) 2013 Chip MacAlpine
(picture by SnowBot)

This is what happens if you take your snowshoes off too early

This is a good time to talk a little about safety and comfort in the great white winter. It was pretty warm today (perhaps 40 in the sun) and I was perfectly happy in just my base-layer and a insulate vest while we were moving. But things cooled down pretty quickly when we stopped. So you should have with you something to sit on, I had a heavy duty space blanket/ground cloth. Chip and I also had a 1 foot square piece of styrofoam. Mine was just some packing material I scrounged at work ,maybe ¼ thick. These are great to sit on in the snow, not because they are comfy, but because they are good insulators. Your butt can instantly tell the difference between sitting on just the space blanket and sitting on the foam on top of the blanket. While you are sitting you are also going to have to put some additional top layer on. I had my son's Ghost Whisper jacket that I have stolen from him while he is in school in SoCal and I also had a fleece. (I didn't need the fleece today but I have this hard learned rule to ALWAYS carry an extra fleece when hiking in the mountains).

By the way, if you overheated too much before lunch and your shirt is wet with sweat, you really need to get it off and put on something dry. So.... you best have something dry.

Other safety and comfort gear? Some additional layers for hands and head are good. I also bring a light sil-tarp just in case it rains. But it wasn't going to do that today.

Oh, you also have to be prepared for pretty young woman passing you on the trail and asking you why you are carrying so much gear. “Are you training for something?”

You just have to have a better answer than mine. Which was “No, we just like to have tea with our lunch”.

I am thinking something along the lines of “Yes, I am taking my young padiwan on his first obstacle of the trials. We both must carry lead filled sacks to the top of Mt. Hood without using the force.”

My it was quiet while we were sitting there for lunch. The air was still, the sun was shining. I could occasionally hear people laughing out on the road across the lake, but that was at least a quarter mile away. You know it is really quiet when you can hear a Raven fly by 200 feet from you.

After lunch we set off through the woods, pretty much completely off the trail. That was a lot of fun, but also a lot harder than walking on the road. Got some good pictures of some pristine snow and didn't fall into the creek, so it was all good.



Once back to the road, we angled back to the dam, completing our lake circumnavigation. Now that I can look at the area I can see that this is a man made lake (when, and Chip told me). It must have just been a really swampy wet area and someone put in a dam and Bingo !! Natural Tourist Site.

“Gee, Chip, I don't see why they call it Mirror Lake. Most of the time it is frozen. It should be White Lake”.

“This is Trillium Lake.”

“Oh....... Yeah.”

The last half mile is that trudge back up the hill. We did a lot less talking at that point. But we did get back up the hill without cursing so it couldn't have been too bad. How in the hell do those Cross-country skiers go uphill in those things????

We did our apre-shoe up at the Boars Head tavern on the top floor of the main lodge at Timberline. You just GOTTA check out this lodge. It is old and wonderful and full of history and rich people. And has pretty good beer and meatloaf.

Yes, that is snow covering the first floor view.

It was a clear sky, so after dinner we headed over to White River to take some star pictures. I just have this little point and shoot, but I still got this picture of Orion, the pliedes and Jupiter.

That light is night skiing at Meadows.

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