C writes about her first snowshoe hike with Andy on Mt.Hood March 4, 2017 (with a small preamble).
The Tamanawas Falls stats:
Total Distance: 3.80 mi
Trailhead Elev.: 3,020 feet
Net Elev. Gain: 500 feet
Trail type: There-and-back
Trail condition: snow packed with light snow falling
Did we finish: Are you joking? That last part was steep. Next time. Read on if you would like.
Preamble: I moved home in 2014. I had been gone for over 40 years but home is Oregon, it is in my DNA. I hugged the ground in the backyard of our beach house not long after I returned and it was the closest I have ever come to a spiritual revelation. And not two days later my dearest childhood friend, whom I had not seen in 40 years, crossed that same backyard brave and tall with arms extended. “I’ve been wondering when you would come home,” she said and we held on in silent tribute to our lost days.
Then not too much later, as if her duty was complete, my long-lost friend disappeared into the mountains and Ponderosa pine forests of central Oregon with a neighborhood boy from our youth. I felt duped, hadn’t we just crushed the missing years between us in our long embrace? It took a while for a gentle realization to spread through me, I liken it to seeing a play with a cute trick, one in which the audience has been led to believe one thing (e.g.; I was the center of the story) when all along there had been other plots in flight (in this instance, the Cindy and Steve intrigue).
That was nostalgic romance (or nonsense) on my part. The real story is Cindy and Steve had a story all along. I simply had not been there to witness it. When I stepped back onto home stage I was oddly surprised to find all the stories I had been a part of as a young girl had continued without me and I was no longer a central player. (Foolish, yea? Well I was 45 when I could finally admit that I just might not live forever. So chalk it all up to being a slow learner.).
I should have known that I could not artlessly reappear and somehow intuit and maneuver back into plot lines decades old. And with that realization taken root, there is a new part of me that houses a melancholy acceptance of having missed being a part of countless arcs that were snatched away from me when we moved to the Midwest. This is what Don DeLillo has to say about that:
“It is possible to be homesick for a place even when you are there.”
― from White Noise
The one thing that has remained unchanged is my connection to the land. There is so much joy in that familiar: the sound of splashing streams, the smell of the ocean air, the pine-scented wind, the white-grey fogged mornings, and the majestic rise of Mt. Hood over the city that has always been my home.
It is because of this enduring relationship with the land that walking over it, and even under it, (try a hike through a lava tube sometime) has become essential in reconnecting with home and with myself and with Andy in what is a new world for him.
For my birthday, Andy splurged on snowshoe equipment even though the recreational snob who worked at REI urged us to try rental equipment first. “Fuck him,” Andy said in a tone as kindly as those words would allow and then shelled out a pile of money on equipment we weren’t quite sure how to use.
People will tell you that snowshoeing is just like walking and they are mostly right. You can buy/rent equipment, watch a YouTube video or two, and then hit the snowy trails. You may not be as fast as some of the more experienced, but you won’t look the fool either.
On our second day of snowshoeing Andy and I went to the Tamanawas Falls trail on Mount Hood’s east side. The woman who worked the lodge where we overnighted assured us this was a beautiful and a relatively easy snowshoe hike through old-growth forests. The trail is a gradual incline to the falls and we passed easily under Douglas fir, cedar and hemlock wearing fresh snow. We crossed a few bridges (gracelessly) and were kept company by the Cold Spring Creek which was running fat and fast.
It was silly beautiful in a way I had never experienced Mt. Hood before. It also felt a little dangerous – Andy and I were sure the big boom we heard was an avalanche somewhere and from that point I kept a rum eye up the mountain –but if pressed I couldn’t say what we would need to do to protect ourselves if one roared our way. We didn’t see a lot of people on the trail but those who passed, well they were a happy lot-bright greetings, genuine big smiles, glad to take multiple stops for weed, wine, and selfies.
I loved the new connection to Hood in the winter and the new experience with Andy. It was a beautiful day with light snow falling on our mountain in our state and on our way home we made plans to return again and again.