Snow in the mountains
With snow in the forecast, the anticipation is half the fun. So is getting ready, and here's how I set up for a day's outing:
Of course I should also mention that preparedness includes always being ready to spend the night out in case something goes wrong. So you should always have map and compass, fire-starting capability, and at least a space blanket, as a minimum.
Chains and tow strap
Hiking up to the snow
Around Mt. Hood, or the Columbia River Gorge area, we're often looking at bare ground or nearly so in the lower elevations, but good snow up higher. So one of the things I really like about Altai Skis ('Hoks') is that they're short enough to easily strap on and carry even on my day pack. That combined with the fact that they have universal bindings, so my hiking boots work fine on the skis. That means I can start out hiking and end up skiing after gaining some elevation.
Mirror Lake trail
After a weekend with a good early snowfall, I was able to hike up to Mirror Lake early on Monday morning with the trail all to myself. This is a popular trail, but the weekend crowds were gone.
A view of the lake
At the lake, the snow was deep enough to put the skis on. The lake wasn't frozen yet, but it was getting close. The temp was about 30 degrees, but warmer in the afternoons, so the snow was white where there was a thin skin of ice in places, but slushy where the snow was still landing in water. From the lake, you get a good view of Tom, Dick, and Harry Mountain. Here's a 270 degree view:
Seeking open slopes
There's a trail that goes the long way around and up to the top from the back side, but I chose to leave the trail and bushwhack to the lower open slopes with my skishoes.
On this trip, that didn't work out too well, because the snow just wasn't deep enough to cover all the brush, so it was hard going. Later in winter, it's much easier to ski off trail through the woods, because the brush is covered with several feet of snow.
Back to the trail
I barged through the woods around to the other side of the lake, and then cut back onto a trail that circumvents the lake along the west side.
Ski back down? Or hike?
I always enjoy tooling around with the skis on so much that I didn't want to take them off even though I knew there was scant snow cover on the way back down from the lake. So I started skiing down the trail, wondering how far I'd get with all those switchbacks. I might have been able to make it if I wasn't trying to make a video with a selfie stick at the same time, which made one arm useless for poling on a turn.
So I crashed on the first switchback.
One more try
Being somewhat stubborn, I still didn't quit, and tried skiing further. I was doing a little two-step routine to avoid rocks because of the thin snow cover on the trail. But when I did hit a rock, I got worried that maybe I was damaging my ski bottoms, so I finally gave up and regrettably took the skis off, strapped them back on my pack, and hiked the rest of the way down.
But you know what? Despite the spill, it was still a beautiful, memorable day, and a great time in the fresh mountain air, whether hiking or skiing.
Would you like to try Altai 'Hok' Skis?
You can learn more at https://www.outdoortracks.com/ski-shoes
If you're going to be in the Sandy, Oregon area, you could even try them out if you contact me for an appointment -
You can order your own skis from https://www.outdoortracks.com/store
Free shipping in Oregon and Washington.