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I Remember When: Memories Keep Mt. Hood Legend Alive

By Ty Walker

I Remember When: Memories Keep Mt. Hood Legend Alive

Newcomers to the area may not have heard of her, but Mount Hood longtimers remember her well. Her name was legend on The Mountain. Her name was Joie Smith.

For 60 years, this strong, independent woman became a local legend, leaving a big impression across a landscape as rugged as her pioneering spirit. Those who knew her still tell stories of this notable woman with a hands-on, can-do attitude.

This March 29 marked the 10th anniversary of her 2014 death at age 85, but memories of her live on. Mt. Hood photographer Gary Randall, who became a longtime friend, remembers the day he first met Smith. She and another woman came to his house to deliver a cord of wood he ordered. Being a gentleman, he offered to give the ladies a hand.

Smith replied, “You know, if you stand back and just let us work, we’ll get this done a lot quicker.”

Telling that story today makes Randall laugh. If you knew Smith like he did, you would understand.

“She was awesome,” Randall said. “She was a very hardy, capable woman. There wasn’t anything that she set her mind to that she couldn’t do. She was very tough.”

Smith boasted many talents. To say she led an active lifestyle would be a gross understatement. She did it all. She was a pilot. She was a Mt. Hood ski patrol member. She towed semi trucks out of ditches. She hauled wood. She loved her horses. She stood tall in the saddle.

Smith was selected as the first woman ski patrol for the 1960 Squaw Valley Olympics.

She ran her own ski shop and then owned and operated Alpine Towing company in Rhododendron, where she lived most of her life.

“I have some pretty interesting memories of adventurous times in the middle of the night with her pulling semi trucks over Mount Hood,” said Randall, who rode shotgun with her for a while at Alpine Towing.
Randall said Smith was a fixture on the mountain for a very long time. Everybody from the mountain knew her.

“Some of the new people moving up have no awareness of the mountain,” he said. “They may not know about her. But anybody who does know the area up here knows Joie Smith. Her reputation and name live on up here.”

“She was a staple on the mountain. She was a very capable, very rugged, very durable woman. I liked the heck out of her.”

Oregon State Police officer John Rizzo, speaking a decade ago at Smith’s memorial service, remembered when he asked Smith to help police with horse patrols to catch thieves burglarizing Mt. Hood cabins.
“She got real excited,” Rizzo said. “She got her gun and horse and was ready to go. We did a few horse patrols, and don’t you know, we caught them in the act. She was tickled to death that her horses were involved.”

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