Museum Chatter: 22nd Annual Ski the Glade Fundraiser
By Lloyd Musser
Tickets are on sale now for the Museum’s annual “Ski the Glade” event to be held on March 2, 2024. “Ski the Glade” is a full day of downhill snow skiing on the 3.5-mile-long Glade Trail. Participants ride shuttles from the Museum in Government Camp to Timberline Lodge. Skiers depart the lodge and follow guides down the Glade Ski Trail back to Government Camp, where they meet the shuttles and go back up the mountain to ski the trail again. The trail will be in excellent condition as Timberline Lodge will have groomed it the previous night just for this event. We will take a break for lunch and enjoy some hot soups from Busy Bee Catering. Skiers will make a couple more runs on the Glade Trail. We should be able to ditch the parkas, as March is usually the beginning of spring skiing with only sweaters needed. About 3:00 PM, our legs will be getting tired, as we have skied 17 to 28 miles today, and it is wine time. We will bid adieu to the shuttles provided by Next Adventure and Explore the Gorge. It is now time to enjoy some hors d’oeuvres, sample some wine, win some prizes and reminisce about the great day of skiing we just had.
The Glade Ski Trail was originally created by the U.S. Forest Service in conjunction with construction of Timberline Lodge in 1937. At that time, mechanical uphill conveyance for skiers had not been perfected. As planned, visitors to Timberline Lodge take shuttle buses from Government Camp. Skiers would ski on one of the three trails created for the project and return to the lodge by shuttle bus. The Glade Trail was considered an intermediate trail; Blossom, which followed a wagon road, was an easier one. The Alpine Trail was steeper and considered more difficult. Blossom Trail followed a wagon road Judge Blossom developed in the 1890s to reach his summer camping place near the then-future location of Timberline Lodge. Glade Trail took its name for the many glades it traversed. Glades are grassy openings in a forested area. Alpine was selected for the name of the third trail, perhaps because it sounded appropriate for a trail that at least started in an alpine environment.
Timberline Lodge would install rope tows and even a chairlift for skiers in the next year but trail skiing would remain popular for decades. As many as 15 shuttle buses would be needed at times. Trail skiing reached its peak popularity in the 1960s. As more ski lifts were installed at Timberline Lodge and grooming snow for perfect ski runs became the norm, trail skiing began to lose popularity. At the turn of the century in 2000, only a few old-timers and the adventurous backcountry skiers were skiing the Mount Hood ski trails.
Ski trails longer than 5000 feet are rare in the United States. The tallest mountains in Europe, with gondola access, have ski trails several miles long, leading to base villages. Skiing a miles- long trail non-stop, on a sunny spring day, is skiing at its finest. A few years ago, the International Ski History Association held a convention in Portland. The Museum and Timberline Lodge arranged a “Ski the Glade” event just for them. These serious skiers, who have skied all over the country and the world, were duly impressed and thrilled with the experience of skiing over three uninterrupted miles.
22 years ago, Mt. Hood Museum held the first “Ski the Glade” event. The event has been sold out every year since. This living history event is a chance for skiers of all ages and abilities to experience the thrill of long trail skiing. It is wonderful to see grandfathers skiing with their young grandchildren. The first Saturday in March is the once-a-year opportunity to “Ski the Glade,” fully supported by the Museum volunteers and Museum Sponsors. Call the Museum today and reserve your ticket for this year’s “Ski the Glade.”
To read a more complete history of Trail Skiing on Mount Hood, visit www.mthoodmuseum.org, About us, Museum Musings.
Lloyd Musser is the volunteer curator at the Mt. Hood Cultural Center and Museum. The Museum is located at 88900 E. US 26, Government Camp, Oregon. Open every day, 9 – 5 www.mthoodmuseum.org ph. 503-272-3301.