It’s been hard to stop skiing this summer; it just keeps going. A few weeks ago I thought I had finally hung the planks up for good –made the transition to summer living. Little did I know that I’d be pulling them out again in August.
Thanks to Timberline Lodge, Mt. Hood has the easiest accessible summer snow in the PNW. Timberline is also the start to an incredible mountain bike trail with over 4,000 feet of flowy singletrack descent. Even better, there’s a bus with a bike trailer that takes you back to the lodge — for two dollars. All that adds up to an irresistible multi-sport descent.
With forest-fire smoke choking the air and a heatwave crushing Washington, it was prime time to combine skiing and biking on the flanks of a volcano. (Hopefully) far from the flames.
We rolled into the Timberline parking lot well after dark. This late in the season the upper parts of Hood don’t usually hold the nicest snow, so we decided to wake up a bit later, and simply go as high as we felt like. At 5 a.m. we began the skin. We ended up getting to about 10,000 feet, before turning around in the face of deepening sun-cups. Or rather, sun-buckets.
As we started skiing, we began to notice thousands of Monarch butterflies flying across the slopes of Mt. Hood. I’ve never experienced anything quite like it. There were so many that it was impossible to avoid hitting some of them in mid-air while skiing. The descent started out a bit bumpy, but after a few minutes the snow smoothed out, and we enjoyed superb summer corn snow through the ski area and to our car at Timberline.
After a few minutes of relaxing by the car, we stored the ski gear and hopped on our bikes, ready for 16 miles of fast riding. The bike trail was even better than I remembered. It started out fast and smooth, with tight corners to keep you on your toes. In a few miles the trail became less steep, and a bit rockier. After a couple hours of almost non-stop fast descending, I was grateful to pedal up to the shuttle stop, right outside of the Rhododendron Dairy Queen, which I took full advantage of.
Louie Dawson earned his Bachelor Degree in Industrial Design from Western Washington University in 2014. When he’s not skiing Mount Baker or somewhere equally as snowy, he’s thinking about new products to make ski mountaineering more fun and safe.