November 19, 2021 – Mt Hood,

After missing out on a few opportunities to get November turns in earlier in the month due to work and ski patrol obligations, I was game to head to Hood even though the forecast wasn’t looking real nice. Dan and I mulled it over early in the morning, and even thought the mountain was shrouded in a whiteout and Joe text us from the parking lot that it probably wasn’t worth coming up, we decided to take the gamble. After dropping my son off at school a few minutes before 8:00 am, I met Dan in Coburg, and we headed up I-5 in his Tesla. A couple hour later, after stopping in Sandy for a quick charge, we made our way to the Zigzag Ranger Station to get an annual snowpark permit.

The Tesla at the ranger station
National Forest Sign

After that quick pit stop, we headed up Highway 26 in the driving rain, which turned to snow by the time we hit Govy. The drive up the Timberline Road was a little slippery in the heavy snow, and soon we found ourselves in the parking lot. The snow was coming down hard and the wind was blowing, and we met Joe who was slow rolling it after spending the night and skiing the day before.

Ready to head out

It didn’t take long to get our boots on and and our gear packed, and we headed up the hill on skins. Hitting the skin track for the first time each fall after a long, dry summer is always refreshing. Our departure time was a few minutes before 12:00 pm, and we skinned up the road in a stiff breeze. About halfway up to Silcox, we elected to drop into the canyon to try and get out of the wind.

Dan on the skin track
Heading up in a whiteout

Our hope was that it might clear up just a little bit so we could make some nice turns in the canyon, but the weather didn’t appear to be cooperating. We worked our way up to the top of the Magic Mile and then up to the mid-station on the Palmer. At that point, our rock handrail in the canyon appeared to run out, and it looked like this would be our high point for the day.

At the mid-station

Then, amazingly, as we sat around and contemplated what to do, the clouds parted to reveal the mountain above us in all her glory! We could barely believe our eyes, and the decision to head on up was an easy one.

Heading up in the sun
The boys skinning up the Palmer

We made decent time up to the top of the Palmer now that we could see the contours of the snow and where we were going, and around 2:30 pm we ripped skins and planted our beers in the snow. Looking out over the sea of clouds to the south, the views were incredible, and it definitely felt like winter.

Nearing the top of the Palmer
Looking out over the clouds

After the obligatory pictures from the top of the Palmer, it was time to enjoy a frosty cold beverage. My beer of choice for this day was a strong but tasty Dead ‘n’ Dead from Rogue Ales & Spirits. A 9.8% alcohol by volume, I was feeling pretty tuned up by the time I finished it and ready to ride the fresh pow!

Dead ‘n’ Dead by Rogue Brewing

Since Dan and Joe had already got their November turns in, Joe was nice enough to grab the camera and shoot a few shots of me enjoying some turns to complete my 16th year and 192nd month of Turns-All-Year. As soon as I dropped in, I could tell we were going to be in for a great run down…

Matt dropping in
A fresh November pow slash

I grabbed the camera back from Joe partway down the Palmer and returned the favor, shooting a few shots of him and Dan as they skied down. When we regrouped a bit further down, we all had the same shit eating grin on our faces.

Dan and Joe skiing the upper Palmer
Joe cranking a November turn

We headed on down, and the snow continued to ski awesome. The temperature was dropping quite a bit too, and must have been around 25 degrees (compared to the 32 degrees on our approach). More turns and pictures followed as we worked our way down…

Riding down the Palmer
Dan getting some of the action

Joe was kind enough to grab the camera again just above the mid-station, and snapped a several shot sequence series of me ripping by him, including the two shots below…

Thumbs up all the way around
Riding the chalky smoothy powder on the Palmer

We worked our way into the Palmer canyon below the mid-station, and what was hardly visible on the way up was glistening in the sunshine on the way down.

Joe popping off a little roller
Working down into the Palmer canyon

We had to stop and wait for a few minutes for Dan, who was above trying to get his hands warm. After a closer inspection, it looked like new, warmer gloves were in order for him. Needless to say, I wasn’t able to get too many shots of him descending, but Joe made up the difference by absolutely ripping it up….

Joe slashing through the pow
Heading down the canyon

We worked our way down into the canyon and to the top of the Mile, and regrouped there before heading down into the Mile canyon. As if the conditions couldn’t get any better, the clouds receded all the way down to the lodge, and provided us with good visibility all the way back to the car.

Joe working the Palmer canyon
Dan & Joe near Silcox

We skied the upper Mile pretty fast, and I didn’t get a chance to shoot many photos, but was able to capture the couple of shots below as we skied towards the clouds….

The boys headed down
Looking back up towards Silcox

The runout through the lower canyon skied really nicely, and we didn’t touch a rock the whole way down. Looking back up at the mountain, it was bathing in the late afternoon sunlight, and made for a very pretty backdrop (although difficult to shoot subject to to the high contrast between the skiers and the mountain).

Carving up the lower canyon
Headed down to the car

We were able to ski right down to the parking lot, and a quick skate brought us back to the car for a day that turned out way better than any of us had dreamed of.

Back at the car

 At the car, it was cold. The temperatures were hovering in the mid-20’s, and the first order of business was to get the brats on the grill, as well as to change out of ski boots. Then, it was time to grab another beer and celebrate one of the best November runs on Hood in recent memory. I celebrated the turns with a tasty Updrift IPA from Pelican Brewing Co.

Tending the brats
Updrift IPA from Pelican Brewing Co.

Before too long, the brats were fully cooked and ready to enjoy. Eating a hot brat after an afternoon of cold pow turns is hard to beat. To commemorate the moment, I setup my tripod and snapped a picture of the three of us, with the mountain looming in the background.

Group shot with the beers & brats

As we wrapped up our dinner and readied to hit the road, all three of us agreed that this would be a day we wouldn’t soon forget. With that, we loaded gear into the rigs, and headed home, fully satisfied with a great day of November turns on Mt Hood. Until next time, here’s a parting shot from the day…

Parting shot from the Palmer