Thursday, January 24, 2013

Full Throttle Nature

This is just a fun post from a memorable week on Mt. Hood with two of my favorite people. 
It's doubtful there will be anything thought-provoking.
And I have no idea what happened to my spacing.

Sure-fire ingredients to a fun day.

Thanks to a crazy Inversion-type weather system that hit the Pacific Northwest last week, Portlanders were stuck with a climate typically found on the mountain this time of year- 25 degree days, even colder nights, and clouds. Lots of clouds. Meanwhile, us mountain folks enjoyed a week of stunningly beautiful blue skies and balmy temperatures that reached into the low 60s. Skis and snowshoes beware. This is sledding kind of weather. 

Meet Crash.

Some history: Crash is my sled. Crash earned her name last year when Kimi and I took our brand-spanking new machines out for the first time ever. At the end of the day when loading her onto the trailer, I, apparently, hit the throttle a little too hard and for a little too long. Unfortunately, I never gave the brake a thought as I flew through the front of the trailer and into the back of Kimi's truck. I was quickly thrown off the sled and face-planted in the parking lot. Oddly, my snowmobile was nowhere to be seen. I wasn't hurt, but assumed the truck and brand new snowmobile were toast. For a moment, I considered feigning injury to deflect attention from the sure-to-exist crash scene. I rolled over gingerly (just in case I had to fake cracked ribs) and saw that my sled was slightly on the trailer, but mostly it had climbed up the back of the 4 Runner. Its skis reached gallantly for the sky. It didn't look good, only, it didn't look entirely bad either. Surely something had to be broken though. After all, I just busted through the trailer. Yet, besides being the only ones in the parking lot, and certainly being the only ones in the parking lot with a snowmobile stuck on the back of their car, things looked okay. Somehow the two of us managed to get the thing off the truck and back on solid ground. As a testament to the Toyota brand, the 4 Runner barely had a scratch, and my snowmobile seemed in good shape too. The damage was minimal, possibly only cosmetic, and it started right up, which was a good thing because somebody still had to get it on the trailer. Little did I know, that somebody would be me. As it turned out, once was enough to crash through the trailer and into the truck. She loaded beautifully the second time around; however, she would never be nameless again. 

The present: Diana, straight out of Queens, New York and my best friend from high school, came to visit last week. Before this trip, she had never ridden a snowmobile. In fact, being from New York, she never even really plays in the snow. This was evidenced by her outfit for the week: ski pants she bought on the mountain the day before, a long, pretty coat with faux fur around the collar that she typically wears to her Emmy-winning job in New York City, knee high leather boots with a zipper on the side, and borrowed gloves, goggles, and ski helmet from me. Yes, it occurred to us that she would be riding with me, on Crash, without a rated snowmobile helmet, but I promised I'd take it easy. 

Diana driving Crash around the parking lot.

The parking lot? I didn't promise to take it that easy. Soon we were off to higher ground.

That's more like it.

Diana and I took the lead with Kimi right behind us. I started to feel good on Crash and couldn't believe it had been nine months since I'd last ridden. Diana, riding on the back of my sled on the jump seat, was my first passenger, and she was a good one. I could barely tell she was there. That's when it occurred to me to check to make sure she was, in fact, there. Not only was she in place, but she was smiling too. So, I gunned it a little, gave us some speed. We climbed up the butte, high into the sky, the two of us- longtime friends who always thought life was a little more fun on the edge. Or was it the ledge? I wonder because, soon enough, I misjudged a shelf, what some might call a small ledge, and rolled Crash over on its side. Diana and I rolled too, and landed in the snow. Luckily, landing in snow doesn't hurt! However, we didn't have the muscle power to pull it right side up and Kimi wasn't upon us yet. What else was there to do except get the camera out? 

As we waited for Kimi to arrive, someone else stopped by to assess the situation.

I bet you're thinking, "how cute and innocent." Yeah, that's what we thought too.

That is, until we got to the fire lookout and were relentlessly pursued by these predatory birds for our lunch.

It may have gotten a piece of my finger, but I'll be damned if it gets a piece of my sandwich! 

Finally, we retreated to the top of the fire lookout and to our surprise, found it unlocked. With the unlocked door came an unlocked view. 

But right outside the door, someone was waiting.

If Alfred Hitchcock didn't use the Gray Jay in his movie The Birds, he should have.

Finally, we escaped the nasty fowl and their merciless ways. I wanted Diana to experience driving a snowmobile more than around a parking lot, so later in the day, I handed her the keys to Crash. She and Kimi headed out on the sleds for a loop around Frog Lake; I walked to the snow-covered Pacific Crest Trail. I love full throttle nature and riding screaming adrenaline through the woods, but as I walked by myself on the PCT, I understood what makes my heart beat best. 

I wondered if Wisdom and I would make it this far north on the trail this summer. Will we pass Frog Lake sometime in August? Will I recognize this tree that held my helmet on a fun day way back in January when the sun was shining and my friend from New York came to visit?  

(Somewhere around mile 2098 northbound on the Pacific Crest Trail)

For now, those answers don't matter. For now, I've got this moment with two people and a mountain I love. For now, that's enough. 
(Driving home at the end of the day.)

The following two days we went back out and experienced some of the best snowmobiling to be had in Oregon- No rollovers, no getting stuck, no clouds, and best of all, no Gray Jays! Here are a few of my favorite scenes from those two days.

Mt. Jefferson, coming down from Grasshopper Butte.

Clear Lake in the late afternoon

 A cheap place to stay for the night -heat not guaranteed!

So, how do we get home? Just kidding.

From snow to sea.. 
next stop, Bora Bora


  1. LOL...TALK ABOUT CONTRAST... snow to turquoise water! Which is best?!! LOL!! Loved the scenes.

  2. Lisa! Your blog is so, so fantastic! I'm stoked that you have taken this year off to play your heart out and would love to be in contact as I'm planning to do the same thing next year. I know you had taken an approved year leave from the school district and am curious what this process was like, what you had to submit, etc. If you have a second, I'd love your advice!
    Continue playing and loving life!

  3. Glad you liked the pictures, Anon! It's hard to say which is best, but if I had to choose, I guess the turquoise water would win by a smidge. How about you? What do you prefer?

  4. Hey Kate, great to hear from you! Thanks for checking out my blog. I'm glad you like it, but I'm even more glad to hear you're planning to take a sabbatical next year! It's the best. I'm just about to head out for a bit, but will be in contact via email. I'm so excited for you!

  5. Love the story of Crash. Glad woman and machine are okay! Clear Lake looks a bit ominous - just right for those pesky Gray Jays.

    Bora Bora sounds awesome. :)

  6. Gray Jays are the devil disguised in cute little bird costumes! Do they frequent your feeder?

  7. We hardly ever get Gray Jays at the feeder. I think we're too far from the mountains for them. Or they haven't discovered my bounty yet. :)

  8. I'll be sure to let them know; maybe they'll head your way soon. :)