Monday, December 04, 2006

Northwest Christmas Tree

So this is how you get a Christmas Tree in the Pacific Northwest.

You could go down to the vendors and buy your tree off a lot.  Or you could go out to a Christmas tree farm and cut one yourself with a saw they give you.  Or you could do what we did.  You buy a $5 permit from the U.S. Forest Service and you head up into the mountains and cut down a Christmas Tree for yourself!

Here's Mt. Hood towering in the background as we head up to get our tree. 


It's only a 1 hour drive from Portland to Mt. Hood.  So within about 30 minutes we were gaining elevation and starting to see signs of snow.  It started with ice below, when we stopped at the Ranger Station to buy the $5 permit, get a map, and buy the annual snow park pass ($15).


Basically you end up drive a forest service road up into the mountains and look for a Christmas tree.  We chose a road and started driving.  I had no idea what to expect.  Thank god I had the 4x4.  This isn't a nice plowed two way road.  This is a gravel road, snowed over, full of potholes, only one lane wide, and huge drop cliff drop offs down to mountain streams... if you make a mistake here you're not just going to need a tow truck.


But wow.  It was beautiful.  All over the place there were mountain streams, waterfalls, just coming out of nowhere!




We were probably going like 5 miles per hour because of the snow, treacherous road, and because I kept stopping every 1/2 mile to take a picture of something.  But we were making good progress.  I was a little worried we would have trouble finding a tree because everything I saw at the lower elevation was so large.  The higher we got the better it started to look but the more dangerous it became.  We finally found a spot though.  And the truck made it like a champ.


The most dangerous part was trying to turn around on that one lane fireroad.  They do have little turn around's but the snow was deep and the road just had ruts in it from tire tracks.  I was afraid we might get stuck.  No worries though.  I think the truck was loving it.  And the view up here was spectacular.  Mountain stream rushing by down below, sun shining, and all by yourself up here.


But we did find a tree finally.  I and cut it down with a bow saw, recommended by the employee at A-Boy hardware store.  I felt kind of bad doing it.  But then Heidi cheered me up by saying well at least we weren't supporting the chemical spraying, gas guzzling, big tree farming companies.  And like a good deer hunter, she held up the prize.


Of course after a hard day's work like that you have to settle down for some hot chocolate.


And in the Northwest that means Big Train hot chocolate (the make the BEST spiced chai) [check out the boiling milk on the campstove to the left], some Snickerdoodle cookies and the best part, gingerbread tea cake from the local bakery.


Then when you get home you can hang up your ornaments on your wild northwest Christmas tree.  Fun.  Can't wait until next year.  Later.  Oh yea.  Merry Xmas.


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