Jacob and I had a little impromptu "date night" the other day in the middle of the day. We were going to go for a walk but on the drive home I casually said, "I sure would like to go snowshoeing" and like a champ, Jacob said, "Let's do it!"
We felt a little guilty as we raced around the house to get ready since Vaughn has been dying to go to the snow. We probably would have taken him with if he hadn't just gone sledding the weekend before and we were planning on taking him sledding the very next day - to say nothing of the fact that the last time I went snowshoeing with Vaughn it involved me pulling a sleeping Vaughn behind me in a sled. Still, we had to laugh at the idea of staging lots of pictures of us wrestling in the snow while eating as many Swedish Fish as we could consume.
We got kind of a late start and the staff at the snowshoe rental place noted that it "gets dark awfully early" and helpfully suggested a site closer than the one we had picked out. I couldn't help but wonder if we seemed really inexperienced and if maybe we'd make some employee list that day for "Renter Most Likely to End Up Dead."
It was a really nice drive out to Mt. Hood. It has been painfully cold lately but the weather was clear and beautiful. It did take a bit longer to get out there than we had thought and our actual snowshoeing time whittled down to maybe and hour and a half. As we got closer to our destination (as estimated anyway, the signage along the highway is already bad and all the signs were covered with snow or actually covered in paper), Jacob pointed out seven or eight snowshoers tromping along a high embankment next to the highway. "What are those people doing? Why would you snowshoe THERE? It's like they just decided they'd had enough and had to get out of their car." We pulled into the parking lot and started asking around for the direction of the Mirror Lake trail head and were told it was approximately a mile from the parking lot - back along the highway. Oh so that is why they were walking along the highway.
We plodded off at a pretty decent clip to maximize our time on the actual trail but it was kind of dicey going. The trail was narrow and if you fell to the right you were a few feet down onto the highway shoulder but if you fell to the left you were about ten feet down into a semi-frozen river that looked pretty impossible to get out of. The snow was gray and dirty- presumably from diesel exhaust. At this point Jacob proclaimed that showshoeing is "the bastard stepchild of winter sports". Passing people on the narrow ledge of a trail was tricky business and I was pretty shameless about leaning toward the freeway and letting the passers brave the descent toward the river. Jacob asked one group that we passed about how far we had to go. A woman answered that it was about a mile and then tacked on, "Think you can make it?"
By the time we got to the Mirror Lake trail head we figured we had about ten minutes to spend on the trail before we had to turn around and head back. The trail itself was tranquil and beautiful and a reminder of why snowshoeing is fun. On the way back off the trail we passed a small group that we had seen putting on their snowshoes in the parking lot. As we went by one of them said, "That was quick." Snowshoers are a snarky bunch.