The sky was a bright gray and the snow was a crisp white as I skated my way to the lodge from the overflowing parking lot.
Sunday marked the 10th anniversary of the completion of the Ray Garey Cabin at the Teacup Lake Nordic trail system, located just south of Mt. Hood Meadows along Highway 35. The anniversary celebration included lessons for skate and classic skiing and tea from the trails sponsor, Stash Tea. It was around 25 degrees outside, while inside the lodge, the fire from a wood stove radiated warmth, inviting visitors to sit, snack, and tell stories from the 10 years of Teacup.
I met with Teacup’s president, Paul Blackburn, an avid skier since college, as well as the current mayor of Hood River. Blackburn said the cabin is named after Ray Garey, a skier from the Gresham area who has since passed away, but donated $30,000 to kick off fundraising efforts to replace a “nasty, 20-foot aluminum trailer” that originally served as the trail system’s warming hut.
“Teacup is a joint effort of the U.S. Forest Service, our volunteer board of directors, our 1000-plus members, and a dedicated and skilled groomer driving the machine — the overall collaborative community structure that makes it possible,” he said.
Shanda Pickhardt, a seasoned classic skier, was in attendance and said, “The conditions have been amazing! Last year I was skiing around mud piles.” She has made an effort to ski twice a week to appreciate the wonderful conditions.
I talked to Harold Fischer, the trail groomer; he works to keep the trail in peak condition. It’s his fifth season of grooming. His routine can take about three to eight hours for the 20 kilometers of trails depending on the amount of snow and ice. The trails would be lost without him. Teacup trails have been a long-standing system that will be enjoyed for many years to come.