On the last day of 2017, at a trailhead deep in the Black Mountains, the temperature hovers right around 20 degrees. We have a big crew - 10 people bundled up in all the warm clothing they own. Armed with snacks, hand warmers, a thermos of tea, and a flask of bourbon, we're preparing to do a nine mile hike with over 6,000 feet of elevation change in temperatures that will only decrease as we climb higher.Read More
When Haas and I inquire about backcountry camping, the male park ranger raises his eyebrows with a quizzical expression. His partner tuts disapprovingly. "No way," she says. "There is way too much snow up there."
"Do you have snowshoes?" he asks.
Jon shakes his head. We patiently listen as the rangers explain how we can try to make our way up towards Watchman Overlook, but we probably won't get far without snowshoes.
Jon and I are feeling fairly confident in our abilities on snowy terrain - at this time yesterday morning we were drinking celebratory beers in the parking lot of Timberline Lodge, having reached the summit of Mt. Hood about three hours earlier. We convince the rangers to issue us a backcountry camping permit, and they reluctantly hand it over.Read More