Wednesday, July 9, 2008
july 4 holiday, part 3
The problem with late starts on one day when you have plans for the next is that the can you kicked down the road the day before when you ran out of time is waiting for you the next day. Our can was the Raft Trailer. Getting home at 11 meant we didn’t have the conditions or the inclination to put it away properly. This involves some delicate maneuvering down a steep driveway and a 90 degree turn at the end to tuck it between a tree and the shed.
That can was kicked to morning, when we’d tentatively planned a 10 a.m. departure for Mt Hood. (So in addition to packing up ski gear and packing for desert conditions at Kahneeta, we needed to finish unpacking from the raft trip.)
Funny, parking the trailer went so smoothly before. Suffice it to say that we ended up with the van and trailer wedged between the back deck and the woodpile and finally had to concede defeat. We only were able with great difficulty to extricate the van. (and surprisingly little rancor) The trailer is far from tucked away in its little slot, instead left pointing at an unprofessional angle down the hill. I call it a loaded cannon; Gary says the tongue will merely bury itself and it’ll brake itself should it start to roll. We blocked the wheels with cinderblocks to deal with later.
The Timberline plans were based on what turns out to be a misapprehension of what can be done with an opportunity they offer. Timberline may be the only lift resort that offers year round skiing. “The Magic Mile” chair carries you to nearly 7000’ elevation on the mountain, and then the Palmer chair takes you to approximately 8500’. Skiers train here and go to camps late into the summer. We thought a unique and fun thing to do would be to take their sightseeing pass which will give you a lift up on the chair and if you wish you can walk down. Why not, we reasoned, take our skis, ride to the top, have a picnic up high, and then ski down at our leisure? Conditions are good for this sort of plan because we had snow late into the spring. So there’s a good snow pack where ordinarily it would be melted down to earth at this time of year. We could ski all the way down to the lodge well away from the other skiers who are generally restricted to the salted runs adjacent to the lift. (Usually the salted runs are the only ones that remain this long.) The slope is consistent so not technically difficult and provided we got there before conditions got too hot, the snow would be perfect—soft and forgiving on the surface but a firmness to work with underneath. Because the snow can get so sloppy when it gets too hot and can become tricky and even dangerous, the chair closes at 1:30. We thought we’d be hitting it perfectly if we were on the chair around 11:30, which meant we needed to be leaving the house around 10:00.
So, sweating, we abandoned the proper stowing of the trailer at 11:00. I named the elephant in the room about maybe it not being worth the effort to pack for skiing. We were going to be cutting it awfully close to even catch the last ride up before the lifts closed, and I hate these down-to-the-wire-crunch-time modes of operation. Especially with kids. In addition the boys had both been protesting that they didn’t WANT to go skiing. Also, we didn’t have much food left over from rafting to make much of a picnic and there would be no time to stop and replenish. Gary couldn’t bring himself to let go of the vision so we went into frantic get-it-all-together mode and managed to pull out of the driveway at 11:30.
It was brilliantly sunny at Timberline. A mountain rescue was underway where a climber had fallen just shy of the summit, sustaining a head injury and broken leg. Ambulance and rescue vehicles were at the lower lodge and through my binocs I could see the on-foot team approaching the scene.
Knowing not much time was left we rushed in to the ticket counter to be faced with Reality: If we wanted to ski we had to be at the chair in 20 minutes. (All of us in shorts and sandals.) We could expect to pay the full price for a full day of skiing. So one run was going to cost our family $200. What of the sight-seeing package? Couldn’t we just take that ($15) and take our skis along? Nope. They won’t load us on a sight-seeing package if we’re carrying skis. Now, if we want to do the ‘climber’s package’, basically get a boost up on the mountain and skip a couple thousand feet of walking we could take skis ($29), but we had to show them our wilderness permits and Mountain Locator Units (MLU’s). Gary and I toyed with the idea that I take the boys up on the sight-seeing package, while he somehow manage to drag all of our stuff uphill from the ground, but since we had the boys hollering, “No! No! Let’s go to Kahneeta!” we conceded defeat for the second time that day. I swear, these guys make it so easy to be a hermit. Give these guys a hotel room with cable tv and they’re completely entertained.
ON TO KAHNEETA