Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood

Over a month ago, I visited my little brother who lives in Oregon. We went to the ocean, climbed some hills in his town, Eugene, and drove up to Portland a few times to take a look at some places. On one of those trips to Portland, on the best most clearest day, we continued east in the direction of Mt Hood, Oregon's tallest mountain.

The Timberline Lodge is a national historic landmark and operating ski lodge on the southern slope of the mountain. It's the highest occupied point of the mountain. To get any further up the mountain, you'll have to go by foot, or by chair lift and then by foot.

On clear days, and in some areas of Portland, Mt. Hood is like a distant shadow. It looms over the east, but it doesn't tower or demand the skyline. It's like a powerful icon.

Out of Portland, we took the most direct route to Timberline. Hwy 212 to Hwy 26. Mt. Hood was always in our view as we continued our trek.





As the mountain grew and grew the temperature began to decline and the snow acculation became greater and greater. It was 60 or 65 degrees back in Portland, but it was 40 degrees when we finally made it to Timberline. It's amazing to think that it was Spring a mere 60 miles away. As we turned on the road leading directly up to the Timberline Lodge, it was so icey that we had to pull over and engage our 4 wheel drive.

But! We made it easily enough.


Inside was the beautiful, humble, rustic atmosphere you'd expect to find from the Ski Lodge of your dreams.



Fireplaces, wooden benches with coizy cushins, hot chocolate... everything that promotes a warm atmosphere and protection from the sharp chill of the snowy mountain outside.



And this is as close as we got to the peak of Mt. Hood. The Ski Lift continued up the mountain quite a ways but there would be plenty of ground yet to cover.


Timberline is like it's own self-substained ecosystem. The building has its own restaurant, common area, bar, and rooms for the guests. It probably has living quarters for some of the staff, too. Though, I suppose commuting everyday wouldn't be too difficult. It only took us an hour and a half from downtown Portland. But, they'd probably need something for the staff if they were snowed in. We were there on a pretty nice day and half the building was already under snow.

The Timeberline Lodge was in the middle of celebrating it's 75th Anniversary. It was constructed between 1936 and 1937.



We looked around Timberline for a while, but then headed back down the mountain. At the base of Timberline's driveway is a town called Government Camp. It's a super cute, and super quaint mountain town.



We stopped at the Visitor Center is town, which was completely covered in snow, and also had a museum with lots of information about the town. One interesting factoid I remember is that American automotive companies used to have a constant about whose cars could make it to Government Camp from Portland the fastest (or at all) in the middle of January. It usually took the cars a whole month to make the journey and a lot of the time the cars would get completely stuck or couldn't even make it over the terrain. The teams would use horses to pull the car along or over whatever horrible obstacles they came across.

The museum also detailed plenty of expeditions to the peak of Mt. Hood, and displayed the original gear of these mountain climbers. Most of the outfits were made of heavy cloth, and had plenty of rips and tears from the climb itself. Googles were scratched, and you could barely see out of them. It's like looking at our space shuttles and wondering how the hell we ever used these things to get anywhere.

Down the street is the Ice Axe Grill, home to the Mt. Hood Brewing Company. Even though this quaint little mountain town probably feels isolated from the rest of society, and especially when it snows 5 or 10 or 20 feet at a time, there's plenty of beer to go around.

It would be nice to live in such an isolated place. Away from the constant distraction of a flourishing city, but I think the tranquil isolation would eventually become boring. And I'm sure very little ever changes out there. Those types of places probably feel like they live outside of time.

Anywho, Mt. Hood is beautiful, and it's fantastic how close it is to Portland. I'd like to see how it looks over the summer, and actually get the chance to walk along some trails, and be able to see the mountain itself rather than just from the road.