July 31, 2021 – Palmer Snowfield

August was quickly approaching, and given the meager snow conditions in central Oregon, Dan, Joe and I opted to bail on our scheduled trip into the Middle Sister and instead head to Mt Hood for a couple of days of riding. Dan arrived at my house at noon, and we loaded up gear and headed out shortly thereafter. Traffic was decent on I5 with only one major slowdown, and we arrived in the climber’s lot a little after 3:00 pm, where Joe was waiting. To all of our surprise, it started to rain as we got out of the car, but it quickly turned to a mist and then stopped a few minutes later.

Hood from the Climber’s Lot
Heading up the trail

We shouldered our packs, carried our skis, and made the short walk up the trail to the snow’s end. Given the hot summer, I was pretty stoked at how far down the snow went in the canyon —- it would only be a couple hundred yard walk to the parking lot.

At the snow’s edge

We started skinning up the Mile Canyon, and made it about half way up before getting hassled by ski patrol who told us we weren’t allowed to skin in the area even though it 4:00 pm and well after they were closed. It looked like they were taking down the last camp, and had quite a few cats running. We agreed to skin to the side and avoid the cats and headed on up, working our way into the Palmer Canyon, then onto the Palmer proper before making our way to the top around 6:00 pm.

Skinning up the Palmer Canyon
The boys up top

Although it was quite a different experience than sitting at the Prouty Saddle on July 31st like we’ve been accustomed to, we all knew the turns would be better here on this day. We put our beer on ice, then set about removing skins and getting ready to ski down. My beer of choice for our run was a tasty Hazy IPA from Full Sail Brewing Co.

A tasty Full Sail Hazy IPA
The standard shot up top

After enjoying our beers and a quick snack, it was time to drop in. I headed down first, and made some pretty sweet turns on the upper Palmer before setting up to shoot some shots of Dan and Joe as they came down…

Dan & Joe ripping the Palmer
Joe all grins harvesting the evening corn

Halfway down the Palmer, Dan grabbed the camera and returned the favor, shooting several shots of me harvesting the evening corn, including the ones below…

July turns on the Palmer
Matt heading down

At the mid-station, we were stoked to see a groomer coming up with his tiller down, laying a nice track of corduroy behind him. We waited for him to pass, and then it was game on!

Joe ripping the fresh groom
Dan and Joe skiing the corduroy

We skied down to the intersection of the Palmer and Mile canyons, and enjoyed the grooming all the way down. Unfortunately, the Mile wasn’t groomed, but it still skied really nicely in the soft snow and cat tracks.

Slaying the corduroy in the Palmer Canyon
The skiers coming down

We waited at the top of the Mile for a few minutes for one of the many cats to pass, then headed down, skiing all the way back to the end of the snow a few hundred yards from the lodge.

One of the many cats
Heading down thru the park

At the bottom of the snow, we made the short walk back to the cars, and celebrated by enjoying a cold beer in the parking lot. My second offering was a Summer Honey seasonal ale from Big Sky Brewing Company.

Heading to the car
Summer Honey Ale

By the time we had the gear loaded in the cars and our beer drank, it was time to think about a spot to camp for the evening. After looking around, we settled on the White River Snowpark, which I like due to the really nice view of the mountain. Once we had our camp setup, we cooked up some tasty brats for dinner, before hitting the sack in anticipation of getting August turns in the morning. After bidding the skiers goodnight, I crawled into my Outback and fell asleep shortly after my head hit the pillow, stoked from a great day of turns on the last day of July.

The view from camp at the White River Snowpark