Trying to get to Mt Hood Skibowl

Our flight to Oregon, for a 5 day trip to see my Grandparents, departed a day and a half after arriving in Boston. We arrived in Portland a little late but relieved the bags were there. After a  20 minute shuttle from the airport to the car rental, we finally began our 7 hour drive down to Brookings. We had heard about blizzards and were concerned that the automatic rental only had all-weather tires, the rental agency assured us it would be fine. We made good time all the way to Grants Pass before we really started to get tired. The final 1.5 hours of the trip winded along a mountain pass through the Redwood forest. The road was pitch black and had more curves than any mountain pass I had seen in the Alps. With a few slight mistakes, we found our way and could finally park the car for the night. It was fantastic seeing the Grandparents again after so many years! We enjoyed dinner together and chatted about everything imaginable. We went to bed early since we had basically been travelling from  Wednesday through Sunday night nearly nonstop plus had to deal with jetlag. After breakfast the next day, we went to Harris Beach. It was especially impressive to see the massive rock boulders towering out of the ocean. I dont think you could ever get bored with the view on the northern west coast. We went down to the harbor after the beach and met an acquaintance of Grandpa’s who had heard that we were in town. He greeted us in German which caught us by surprise. We returned to prepare for the VFW Christmas Party that evening. My Grandparents are very active in their local chapter and had promised to make masses of scalloped and au gratin potatoes. Everyone brought a dish and it turned into a real feast! We were introduced us to literally everyone in the hall and Grandma even had a picture of me climbing the Cima Tosa to show around. It was very flattering!
We had intended to leave directly for Portland after the party, but still suffered from massive sleep deprivation. We took Grandma’s advice to nap for a few before leaving. We slept for 3 hours getting back up at 3am to hit the road. It was fantastic to see my Grandparents again who I missed very much. I wouldn’t have minded staying longer to visit. We decided to take the coastal route this time. We had been driving for hours as we reached a traffic jam in Portland. It was frustrating getting stuck there so close to our goal. The though of spending the entire day in the car stuck in traffic rather than on the mountain as planned, made me crazy. We tried some alternative roads but ended up on a dead end leading to a ferry. After wasting about 30 minutes on unmarked roads, we were back on track heading for Mt. Hood. We reached resort where we had booked a room with reduced lift tickets; the coolest part was of the room was the open fireplace! We checked in, changed into snow gear and tried to pick up the lift tickets. We found out that it was forbidden to drive to the ski resort if you didn’t have snow chains. We were told that it was illegal to put chains on rental cars, so even if we had bought some for 100$, it was not permitted to use them! We tried to find another way to get up there but the fact of the matter was, regardless of it being peak Christmas season with the most expensive lift tickets, there was no shuttle running during the week. It was a hopeless situation and no one seemed to have any kind of idea or useful information for us. We were forced to go to a different resort (it was already 1pm!) and were told to check at the sports shop around the corner to see if we were even allowed to drive to this other resort. The shop owner said that it was forbidden to go to this second resort without chains too, and that they didn’t have night skiing. That meant we would have only had about an hour even if we could get there! We had to return to our hotel once again to get tickets for the final resort called Skibowl. It was the smallest resort of the 3 and didn’t really have a fun park to speak of which was one of the main reasons we wanted to go boarding there in the first place. But at this point, we had no other option. We travelled to  Government Camp. There were warning signs that it was mandatory to carry chains but we didn’t care anymore and pushed on. We arrived in Government Camp and had to decide between Skibowl East and West… There were no signs of any kind really guiding us to one or the other and we chose the one closer to the city and more on the mountain. We got out and put our boots on, unpacked our boards and walked up to the little booth. We were told to drive to the other Skibowl section since this one was mainly for the tube park. Time was ticking and nothing seemed to be going well for us… it was just one big disappointment after the other at that point. We got back into the car and sped back to the other part of Skibowl, parked, waited in line to get our vouchers changed into actual lift tickets and FINALLY got in the medium sized line for the ski lift. The lift was an ancient 2-seater hanging from a pole with no safety bar. I wouldnt want to take a kid here! At the summit, we wanted to test out the deep powder which was supposed to make this area famous. We got to the top, strapped on and, well, what can I say, slid over the ice glazed wind packed snow. We spent the rest of the day unsuccessfully searching for a part of the mountain which hadn’t been glazed by the wind. The trails themselves were in very good shape on the contrary and offered an enjoyable ride, so we stuck to them from that point on. We went into the restaurant around 6pm for something to drink. While we were in there, the resort lost power and the whole place slowed to a stop. We felt pretty bad for the guys who got stuck on the lift since it was chilly out and those seats were uncomfortable. Following our overpriced drinks we decided to head back to the hotel. We stopped off along the ride home to order a pizza to be delivered. Back at the hotel we got out of our wet clothes and lit the fire to warm up. The pizza arrived shortly thereafter and we sat by the fire wrapped in blankets at the little table and savored the pineapple-onion pizza. I had barely finished chewing the last slice as I fell into a deep sleep in the chair. I woke up thinking Andy was trying to burn the joint down after he stoked the fire! The next thing I noticed was that it was daylight out already. We had wanted to ride up to the “real” resort with a kid from the sports shop on the corner, but he had left for the mountain without us. We had no choice once again but to return to Skibowl. We checked out of our hotel, drove back up the mountain and took a combination of lifts back up to the summit where we saw that the “Outback” had been closed off. We found a way into the woods off trail anyway and looked for some fresh snow. Everything was quite tracked out for the most part. We found some short spurts between the cliffs under the chairlift: it was better than nothing. We returned to the car for lunch and enjoyed the relaxed pace of it all. We could stay until 8pm before we had to drive to the airport, so we weren’t in any kind of rush. We continued riding in the trees and down the steepest slopes we could find after lunch. After a few hours it started getting dark and the flood lights came on. We went over to the beginners park where there were some boxes (rails) to learn and try things on. I’d never tried rails or boxes before. My first attempt was just straight down the box which went fine! I repeated the straight slide several times before deciding I wanted to try with the board perpendicular to the box, called 50-50. Andy protested and insisted not to try. I was thinking it would be even easier to go perpendicular to the box (with one foot on either side of the box and facing straight) but he wouldn’t let me do it. So I got up on the box with him. He put his boot in front of my board to keep me from sliding down the box. I held his hands and understood immediately why he had been so persistent! No sooner had I turned my board perpendicular to the box than had I landed on my butt!! It slid out from underneath me lightning fast and there was nothing I could do about it! If I hadn’t been holding his hands, I would have surely ended up with 2 half tailbones rather than one whole one!! I found a sudden appreciation for the difficulties of railslides! Insane! We took a few last runs under the floodlights after the park sesssion. It was more enjoyable than expected, the snow was firm and we could ride fast and practice some carving on the wide slopes. We took the last run at 8pm before driving back to the hotel we had been at. We got a key to the hotel’s fitness center where we could repack our bags for the flight and shower. We drove back to Portland, dropped off the rental and passed through security. We were pretty worn out from all of the driving and boarding and traveling in general and dozed off waiting for the plane. It was an insane couple of days in Oregon with some terrific memories, massive amounts of mileage and minimal hours of sleep. It was a great experience all around!


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