Saturday, February 19, 2011

Cross Country Ski Patrol: Mt. Hood OR

When it comes to cross-country skiing, I am a perpetual advanced beginner, so I like to go to places that are groomed regularly, aren’t too steep and are pet-free (sorry dog-owner buddies). That’s why my cross-country skiing venues of choice are the Mt. Hood Meadows Nordic Center and Teacup.

The wintry meadow

The Mt. Hood Meadows Nordic Center is usually my first trip of the season. It’s kind of the miniature golf of cross-country skiing. No need to worry about getting lost in the backcountry here! Just plenty of well-groomed terrain that loops around in a non-intimidating way. If you’re up for a modest climb, there’s a small waterfall worth checking out. There’s also “the meadow”, a wide-open area where you can really get your “kick-and-glide” grove on (and a great place to knock back a nip of Schnapps). Weather permitting, you can even have a little picnic.

A Teacup trail

Teacup is a bit more challenging, but still manageable. Again, lots of groomed trails and nice winter vistas. Even better is I've never experienced a crowd – only the occasional swoosh of fellow cross-country and skate-skiers.

Pack a lunch, because at Teacup, there’s also a warming hut where you can hunker down around a fire. Teacup is maintained by volunteer organizations so make sure to bring about $8.00 cash for the honor-system donation.

The warming hut awaits

A Few Ski Tips:

If you leave in the morning before 10:00 AM, for both Mt. Hood Meadows and Teacup, take Hwy. 35 on the way up. That way you avoid the Portland ski bus traffic on Hwy. 26.

Remember to purchase a Sno-Park pass (daily and seasonal passes are available)

To keep the muscles warm, bring a flask of something warm, yummy and spiked. I recommend hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps, or spiced apple cider with Tuaca. (Really, the liquor store dude told me this was good – and he was right!)

And if you need a reasonably priced flask, you can find one at Edelwiess, an authentic German deli in Portland.

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