I spent a night on Mount Hood a few days ago, and the weather, people, skiing, everything was perfect. It’s been a long time since I’ve stayed up on the mountain. It is about an hour and a half to get up to Mt Hood from Portland, so it’s not that far. But staying up there is a totally different experience. You get to play in the snow until dusk, mellow out and drink hot chocolate in front of a fireplace, and go out under the stars. You get to go right from breakfast to skiing or snow-shoeing. The car can stay parked or you can make very short drives to Timberline Lodge or one of the nearby trailheads.
We stayed at Tyee Lodge, a purpose-built place just above Government Camp run by the Trails Club of Oregon. In wintertime you need to hike from the parking lot up a trail cut into the snow, but since it’s only 200 yards or so that’s certainly no problem. The lodge is right on a cross-country and snowshoe trail that leads up to Timberline Lodge and Ski Area. Also, a sledding hill is a short walk away.
If you become a member of the Trails Club, it’s easy to stay here. If you’re not, get in touch with the Trails Club and if you bring a few guests, you can stay here on weekends when the club opens it to members. The cost is $25/person per night, and that even includes dinner and breakfast. Such a deal! There is a group dining room, and a large living area. There’s a big stone fireplace, with games, books, all you need to be cozy.
Male and female dorms with bunk beds are rustic but easy to handle given the cheap cost. There is also a large staging room downstairs where skis, snowshoes and sleds are kept, and an adjoining drying room for wet gear. There’s even a game room with ping-pong table. The nearby Mazama Lodge, run by the venerable climbing club of the same name, is somewhat bigger and a little fancier. But Tyee is really perfect, in a perfect spot for all sorts of snow-play. Try renting a condo or house in Government Camp, or a room at Timberline Lodge, and $25/night looks like a steal.
I had a great time with a small group of fellow meetup friends. I cross-country skied up to Timberline one day, and up above tree line the next. Then I did my first real telemark turns of the season on the descents. The weather was dominated by an air inversion, where the valleys below are cold while the upper elevations bask under a layer of warm air. It cracked 50 degrees in the afternoon, and I even took off my shirt while climbing to Timberline.
By the way, the public is welcome in Timberline Lodge, where there’s an enormous multi-story stone fireplace, restaurant, and bar upstairs with a drop-dead view of the mountain. I’d do this again in a heartbeat. What a nice way to spend a weekend.