When Jeff & I Grouponed a Snowshoe Tour from Evergreen Escapes we expected a a drive up the moutain, snowshoe 101 lessons, and a box lunch. Thank goodness Evergreen Escapes has higher standards than we do! We had such a lovely day, a total escape from the typical.
After loading up downtown around 8, our guide gave gave us the highlights of our day and our expectations rose. We'd get to see Mutnomah Falls, Columbia Gorge Hotel & Timberline Lodge. Instead of taking the usual Portlander route to the Falls, we got off the interstate and took the historic Columbia River Highway, which meant we were also treated to views of Wahkeena Falls & Horsetail Falls - plus a bit of history, geography and ecology of the region.
Multnomah Falls was so different than the crowded experience we've always had on hot summer days. Plus, our guide treated us to freshly brewed tea and our choice of quick breads provided by a local bakery. He shared a few stories about the falls before we loaded up and headed for the mountain.
Along the drive he was able to explain a bit about Beacon Rock, Bonneville Dam, and the ever changing Columbia River. The drive up the mountain was very smooth, and we were able to park right at the door of the beautiful Timberline Lodge.
The Lodge is amazing, more so because of all we learned about the history of the building. (The Shining used outdoor shots of the Lodge, but nothing from the interior.) The craftsmanship is worth seeing, regardless of whether you're interested in the activities of the area. The ironwork and wood carvings are spectacular.
At the Lodge we indulged in a buffet lunch. Buffet can be a scary word, but this was delicious and well done. When our guide told us we could burn up to 2,000 calories snowshoeing that afternoon, no one felt guilty about helping themselves to a serving oft he Swedish cream dessert!
After donning our gear, we were given the tips and tricks of snowshoeing. Our group of nine took to it quickly. Ranging from a middle-schooler to a great-grandmother we all enjoyed tromping through the woods. The first half was a lot of downhill, and as we got more comfortable on the snowshoes, some tried fancy footwork like running down the steeper parts and blazing their own 'shortcuts'.
The way back was obviously uphill. It was moderate for the most part, and peaceful because we got to trek along for longer periods. But then...the aproach to Timberline was very steep. We were huffing and puffing like the big bad wolf as we summited the Lodge.
As a reward for our efforts, we were treated to hot cocoa and the gorgeous views from the bar atop the lodge. We even splurged on a few adult hot drinks (the BFK, Chocolate Irishman & Hot Buttered Jack are all reccomended). Once we were warmed up, we loaded back in our comfy seats and our guide passed out cookies (a treat from the same local bakery). We headed back to Portland along a different route, and delivered one of our tourmates at McMenamin's Edgefield, where we got to learn a bit about the property and the McMenamin's empire.
We made it back to our car before 7, and enjoyed a fun drive home laughing about the highlights of our trip. The Groupon made the trip a steal, but we'll be taking another Evergreen Escape soon. No doubt it will be worth every penny.