Holiday Cross-Country Skiing Adventures

Winter weather calls for winter sports. I’ve now been on two fun trips to Mt. Hood for some cross-country skiing over the two holiday weekends. After a terrible year for skiing last year, this year brought the snow back to the mountain!

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Having some wintry fun on my skis!

December Fitness Update

In early December, I pinched a nerve in my right leg and haven’t been able to run very much. It has destroyed my training for the Star Wars Half Marathon, leaving me questioning whether I’ll finish the Rebel Challenge at all. However, I am taking recovery seriously, and trying to do all the right things.

And…. I discovered that cross-country skiing isn’t painful at all!

I also got a Fitbit Charge HR for Christmas, so testing that has been great fun during these two cross-country skiing adventures.

Trillium Lake— December 27th

Across the lake we got a beautiful view of Mount Hood.

Across the lake we got a beautiful view of Mount Hood.

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We planned a post-Christmas skiing trip with my brother for a while. It had been nearly two years since the last time we took out our skis after missing last season completely. Our tried and true cross-country spot— Trillium Lake— seemed like a good place to start.

Trillium is quite fun and a fairly easy groomed trail… once you get down the massive hill that leads from the sno-park to the trail. I’ve braved it on skis before, but I freely admit that I walked down most of it this time.

I got a new Fitbit... so I had fun tracking my workouts!

I got a new Fitbit… so I had fun tracking my workouts!

Once at the bottom of the hill, the real fun started. This being a holiday weekend, it was very busy… but not too crowded. We saw plenty of skiers on the popular lake loop.

The loop has some gently rolling hills, especially after crossing the dam. The dam across the lake provided a beautiful view of Mount Hood and the gorgeous winter landscape. People were happily using the area (and some mostly covered picnic tables) as a convenient lunch stop.

We had limited time that day, so we kept the day simple. All in all, it simply whetted our appetite for more.

And so we planned a ski trip for the next weekend!

Barlow Pass/Pioneer Women’s Grave— January 3rd

No walking here... skiing, yes.

No walking here… skiing, yes.

We’ve gone to Trillium so many times that for our next ski trip, we wanted to try something different. It also happened to be Jason’s birthday, and his sister and my brother joined us on this more adventurous trip.

IMG_5501We opened our Best Groomed Cross-Country Ski Trails in Oregon book for inspiration. It’s a little outdated (2002), but despite the title, it has good locations for both groomed and ungroomed trails. We chose Pioneer Women’s Grave, a location starting at the Barlow Pass sno-park, but also an ungroomed location, which is rather exciting.

The trip began with a very slight downhill section toward the marker for the Pioneer Women’s grave, past a supposedly great view of Mount Hood (it was cloudy that day). We followed in the tracks of previous skiers for that section, but when we took a trail off the road, following blue diamonds, we were on our own. Breaking a new trail is much harder and slower going than skiing on groomed trails, but it has it’s own fun. We were putting the “cross-country” back into cross-country skiing!

Never went quite as fast, so I never got my heart rate as high. Interesting!

Never went quite as fast, so I never got my heart rate as high. Interesting!

Slipping, sliding, some falling, and some slogging, the trip was nonetheless fun. We intended to follow a loop trail, but turned back after we realized we were taking much longer covering the distance than expected. On the plus side, this meant the return trip was much smoother, following our own trail. All the while, the snow kept falling.

Eventually, we made it back to the road, with the slight downhill turning into a never ending uphill toward the parking lot.

The adventurous trip took a more interesting spin as we realized that teh snow was falling not only at Mount Hood, but back in town, combined with freezing rain too. Past Sandy, the roads turned slick and by Gresham, we were skating on a half-inch layer of ice that was everywhere. Luckily we were in a vehicle well-equipped for weather and we chained up all four wheels of Taylor’s four-wheel drive truck after he started losing traction even just trying to go forward.

Freezing rain is no fun, guys. Once we got to his place (it had turned into a six hour drive), we ended up spending the night, leaving the next day in the afternoon after the area began to melt.

Even in the morning, our car was still trapped in ice at Taylor's house. Snow/Ice day!

Even as it started to melt the following morning, our car was still trapped in ice at Taylor’s house. Snow/Ice day!

Although I want to get back to running (Star Wars Half Marathon weekend is next week!), I’m hoping to do more cross-country skiing as well!

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