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#OptOutside, turkey sandwiches, superstition, injury, and a great day snowshoeing on Mt. Hood
posted by John : November 27, 2015


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The view from the parking lot


The day after Thanksgiving is a day for burning all those turkey calories in the great outdoors. So it has been, so it will be. This year, millions of likeminded adventurers were due to join us in the outdoors thanks to REI's #OptOutside campaign and it made my heart happy. (Call it a savvy marketing campaign or commitment to their customers and employees, it was lots of fun.)

When we're at home it's Mt. Teneriffe with TNAB for our only non-Thursday night trip. When we're not at home we're usually in Portland so I find a trip that works for me and the kids. It hasn't always been easy, but as they get older our tastes in adventure are converging.

This year I had an additional requirement; I had to find a snowshoe trip that would introduce Amy's cousins and new cousin-in-law to the wonders of winter locomotion. (Yes, the very relatives we used as an excuse to adventure out East this summer.)

I recalled a brilliant day I had on Mt. Hood about eight years ago in November. Blue skies, crunchy snow, and crazy-awesome views. As the date of this trip grew near the forecast was holding and there was even some fresh snow. Yes, we'd be heading back to Mt. Hood.

For those not in Oregon, Mt. Hood is the state's high point. The Timberline Lodge was the setting for The Shining. And apparently, the road from Portland is full of rules that can lead to disaster if not followed.

Did you know that having a tab at Starbucks of $13 is bad luck? Did you know not to look at the Ivy Bear? Did you know you can't speak as you pass Silent Rock? I could have guessed at the first one, but the others? Really?

Yes. Really.

At Timberline, I was doing my Tubbs Ambassador thing, getting everyone all set up with snowshoes and poles and trying to get the Junior Ambassadors to focus. Racing back to my gear to catch up I slipped and put my hand down hard. On a snowshoe. Crampons facing up.

There was only a tiny tear in my thin liner gloves so I figured it couldn't be too bad. I pulled the glove off and was surprised to see a gaping wound at the bottom of my ring finger. (Yes, that ring finger.) I found the Mt. Hood Ski Patrol and they stopped the prolific bleeding and wrapped me up tight, but left my pointer finger and thumb out so I could drive to an urgent care clinic.

Yeah. Right. Like I was going to cancel this day of awesome snowshoeing just because I'd come really close to losing a finger.

Our original goal for this trip was to head northwest along the Pacific Crest Trail to at least Little Zigzag Canyon and at most to the overlook of the big Zigzag Canyon. Given my 20 minute visit to the first aid station we were a little behind, but headed out anyway.

At tree line (or Timberline, get it?) the slopes were littered with boulders and only the occasional clump of trees. This made for great views as we looked up at the peak and across the undulating terrain. This was the same section I had originally planned for Clara's overnight before we opted instead for Gothic Basin. I'll definitely keep this on my list for future destinations, especially since the route can be extended to circle Mt. Hood in only 40 or so miles.

With the exception of a hand operating at only 40% of capacity we had no issues. Amy's cousins (I'm including the new cousin-in-law because typing "cousin-in-law" is a pain.) professed enjoyment and my Junior Ambassadors were at least tolerating the cold and wind. Both Lilly and Henry were loving their new Tubbs Glacier Snowshoes. (Amazon affiliate links help support moosefish.com. These 'shoes were provided thanks to my diplomatic appointment with Tubbs Snowshoes.) The cousins had FLEX NRG and Wilderness snowshoes from my stable of Tubbs 'shoes. There wasn't enough new snow to really need the flotation of any of these snowshoes, but the traction (sharp, as my finger can attest) was great on the packed and icy snow.

We wound up climbing above the PCT and made it to a modest gully, but not the Little Zigzag canyon. By this time we were craving the Thanksgiving leftovers in our backpacks (all from my Deuter collection, of course) so we found a copse of trees that blocked the wind, but let us sit in the sun for lunch. Since it was almost a holiday I had brought the stove and melted snow for hot cocoa. I even had a little something extra for the adults, even though the cousins are so young they shouldn't be able to drink.

After such a fun day on the mountain I dreaded what had to come next. We stopped for ice cream and got everyone home before I found an open urgent care clinic. The nurse recognized the way my hand was bound as the work of the Ski Patrol because she was training to work with them. She confirmed I had no tendon damage and I was given four stitches to help close the wound. All in all it wasn't so bad except the prohibition on doing the dishes came a day too late.

The pain and inconvenience of a mutilated finger are softened by the memories of a great day on the mountain with family new and old. I'd gladly slice open another body part (four stitches max) for another day like this. Hopefully, I won't have to. To help ensure my safety, you can bet I'll avert my eyes while passing the Ivy Bear and quiet the car past Silent Rock. I won't skip Starbucks, but I might do some mental math to make sure I avoid an unlucky total even if it means buying an extra Frapaccino.

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