Next Adventure Snowshoers and XC skiers Winter trip March 2014
Shuffling over the snow, through a forest of towering trees whose tops disappeared into the clouds, we breathed in the cool mountain air and enjoyed the stillness of the remote, snowy setting.
Animal tracks in the snow on Outdoor School Tour

Snow covered the ground a foot or more thick when we set out for Saturday's tour.  Trickles of meltwater ran along tire ruts at the trailhead, but once we climbed up aways, the road was covered with a wide white swath of snow, shoulder to shoulder.
The snowshoe group set out first while the xc-skiers had their lesson on a flat stretch near the van.  The snow was wet and dense, but not too loud under foot.  When we stopped for a pause, someone asked why we didn't hear any birds.  Everyone listened to the stillness of the deep woods.  Then Raven called out, echoing and haunting, as if in reply to the question.  There were plenty of lichen on the ground and making the trees furry.  Elk, deer, and some big cat tracks crossed our trail on occasion.
Elk tracks in snow on Mt Hood National Forest   Big cat tracks in snow in Cascade Mountains   Snowshoe and cat track for scale
The skiers continued up the trail when when the snowshoers turned back.  It was an easy downhill romp, but the misty clouds turned from drizzle into a real rain for the last stretch back to the van.
Snowshoers on the trail in Mt Hood National Forest
The skiers glided in as the snowshoers reached the van.  We warmed ourselves from the damp chill with hot cocoa and hot cider before heading back to a rainy Portland.
Cross-country skiers and snowshoers on the trail

It is incredible how quickly the snow can melt.  Returning to the same location the next day, we were able to drive a few hundred feet higher up the road.  Areas that had been snow-covered were bare or patchy at that elevation.  All that just overnight.

xc skiers in spring skiing conditions on Mt Hood national forest
We only had to take our skis off a few times to traverse around bare patches.  Mostly we had good long stretches of snow to play on.  We practiced side-stepping, herring bone, and other cross-country skiing skills.
Ski skills practice with Next Adventure Outdoor School   Smiling Snowshoers waving to skiers
Sunday started out with a light misty drizzle, but by the time we turned around, it was dry and sunny.  The skiers were enjoying a nice downhill return run when they passed the snowshoers, and both groups got back to the van within minutes of each other.
XC skills sidestepping practice on snowy hillside

It sure felt like Spring.  We warmed up and dried out, lingering and talking awhile before loading up the van and heading back to Next Adventure.
There still might be a good reason to get out on the snow again, but there's no denying that it looks like hiking season is about to begin.

Good downhill tuck on cross-country skis
The March 8th & 9th Snowshoe and Cross-Country Ski tours wrapped up Next Adventure Outdoor School's regularly scheduled Winter Trips for the season.  There is still snow on the mountain, so get out and enjoy it while you can.
Cascade snowpack usually reaches its deepest measure in April, so don't write off winter completely - don't forget we've got year-round alpine skiing on Mt. Hood at Timberline.

Next Adventure Outdoor School can create a custom tour for your group of 8 or more.  
Inquire at:

Lichen on snow

If you smell Spring in the air, and are hankering to get out for a hike, Next Adventure has got you covered there, as well.  Our first hike day trip is on the first full day of Spring.  On March 21st, we'll head to the east side of the Cascade Mountains in the Columbia River Gorge to see some of the earliest Spring wildflowers, stunning cliff-top Gorge vistas, and mountain views.
Next Adventure Outdoor School has many day hikes and overnight backpacking trips for you to enjoy this summer.  We've got more wildflower hikes in April, and we've introduced some backpacking trips on the Oregon Coast this summer.
Check out our full schedule and sign up online at:

And don't forget about our free clinics and presentations.  Learn the skills you need to make your outdoor adventures safer and more fun at our Second Tuesday Clinics, and be inspired by free presentations from experienced outdoor adventurers.
Coming up, we've got:
Mar 25 - Camino Santiago Presentation with Heather Knight
Apr  8 - Intro to Backpacking Clinic
Apr 22 - Spring Wildflower Presentation with Greg Hill

Whether you just need to buy or rent outdoor recreation gear, consult with our experienced staff, learn new skills in our clinics and classes, or want to enjoy a guided tour of our Pacific Northwest natural wonders, Next Adventure is there to help you make your next adventure safer and more fun.

Inform - Outfit - Excite