The Lodge in the Cloud

comments: 148


To get there, you drive up the mountain. Through the pine trees and snow drifts, you weave up and up. When you get to the lodge, the air is cold, the fog almost crystalline: There at the tree line, you're in a cloud.


For my birthday this year, we went to Timberline Lodge with our friends Josh and Keely. It had been a few years since we'd been there, but at Timberline that doesn't matter. At Timberline, it's like time stands still.


Built in 1937 as a Works Progress Administration project, the lodge perches on the edge of the south side of Mt. Hood, overlooking the valley of pine trees that stretches out beneath it. Crafted out of local timber and recycled iron; furnished with handmade tables, chairs, sofas, and beds; decorated with curtains woven from old Civilian Conservation Camp uniforms; dotted with paintings of wildflora and fauna found no further than a mile from its doors, Timberline Lodge was built by Oregonians left weary and destitute by the Great Depression. When the vast majority of the four hundred workers arrived on the mountain, they had no special building, carving, weaving, sewing, or ironworking skills. They were shown what to do by a few skilled designers, and they built the great lodge right out of the side of the mountain by hand, in eighteen months. When President F. D. Roosevelt came to Timberline to deliver the dedication speech on September 28, 1937, he said, "Now I find myself in one of our many national forests, here on the slopes of Mt. Hood, where I've always wanted to come," and when I sat in the little history room watching the video and heard him say it, I cried, remembering what it was like to sit in a wheelchair and want things, feeling what it is like, in that moment, to get them. I have always been very moved by this mountain, and by this place. I know from my own experience that making things with your hands can turn times of desperation and fear into moments of grace and peacefulness, and the objects that result have earned their sincere and soulful beauty. When I walk around Timberline, touching the banisters, I am so grateful that we've been given this gift. It's been a gift, in different ways, to so many people.


We arrived at noon.


Just in time for lunch.


And then we settled in. The head house is octagonal, with big windows on every side, and sofas set up by fireplaces. Early in the afternoon, there are lots of people visiting. I waited for an open spot by the fireplace and we moved in. Andy asked me how I'd scored the spot and I said, "Oh, I just walked up to those people said, 'Excuse me, it's my birthday and I was wondering if you could move so my friends and I could sit by the fireplace?' " And Andy said, incredulous, "You DID?!?" And I said, "Gotcha [wink]!" No.


I just bided my time like a huntress, and then we quickly set about the lounging.






Hours passed. Slowy but surely, the daytrippers cleared out. The windows turned blue, the inside more and more gold.


Evenutally, dinner.


So many perfect hours in a row.


Swimming outside in the hot pot near the frozen trees, and then to bed, hoping for snow.


In the morning, no new snow, but pearl-gray light: We get up early. A snow jogger trots past the window.




When I was a little girl, I had a book of Russian fairy tales. So I've been here before.




From where I sat at breakfast: Our rooms were somewhere in there.


After waffles and coffee, Keely and I headed upstairs for more sofas and windows, and Josh and Andy went snowboarding. Both nurses, we figured they could apply first aid lest one of them (the gangly one who hasn't snowboarded in twelve years and almost can't stand still [talking (rather adorably) from the second balcony at the top of his lungs] he is so excited to go) wiped out.


But everything went great. I was so happy.


Except that it was time to go.


And I didn't want to go.


"Headed down south, to the land of the pine. . . ."


A place and people I love: Lucky, lucky birthday girl. 


Wow, what a magical place! And what a great way to spend a birthday. And it couldn't happen to a nicer person.

Looks like a lovely time... Happy Belated Birthday...

Thanks for sharing with us... such wonderful memories you've made.

What a lovely way to spend your birthday!

Truly one of my favorite places to stay! You didn't go swimming or in the hot tub? That's awesome, especially when it's cold and the stars are out . . . even better if it happens to be snowing!

What a awesome place thanks for bringing us along and Happy Birthday...

Oh, I am so happy for you, Lucky Birthday Girl! That sounds like quite the memorable trip. How beautiful.
And if I'm not mistaken, you're driving in a Scion...
Thanks for sharing your special moments there through your lovely photographs!
xo Jenny

Sounds like a great place, and a great way, to spend your birthday.


Thanks for capturing all those architectural details. Love those Arts & Crafts lamps specially.

You ARE lucky. Glad you had a happy birthday, and yes, "I want to go to there!".

Ach, I'm so envious: my husband and I spent our 10th anniversary (Valentine's Day!) at the Timberline Lodge! There was a blizzard (buried cars) and we sat in the outdoor hot pool and watched it! Then we got back to our room to discover we'd left the window open a bit and snow had drifted inside. Ahh...LOVE the Timberline Lodge (and Heidi, the St. Bernard!). Thanks for sharing!

sharon stanley says: January 11, 2010 at 12:29 PM

ahhhhhh...the snow, the light, the quiet, the woods, the delight...lucky you!

I want to go there, too! Kind of reminds me of the B&B in Colorado where we stayed a few years ago. (OK now I want to go back).

Oh, and that's my very favorite OCMS song. Thanks for the video :)

Oh, what a lovely place to spend a wintery birthday weekend! I love Timerline Lodge. Love your photos; it's true: that place never changes!

Wow! I feel like I was there too! How beautiful and what a great birthday.

Thank you for sharing this magical time with us. I truly resonated with your words of remembering what it was like to be in a wheelchair and want things...for me it was 2 years of bedrest and chemo, and now I am blessed to be making things with my hands again,as my work....sooooo grateful!

This is so beautiful, both the pictures and the story! ♥

That is a wonderful story, thank you for sharing your birthday magic!

Very lucky indeed.

Loved your post. Nice to find a Portland blogger. I live in Hillsboro. I absolutely love Oregon.

"When I was a little girl, I had a book of Russian fairy tales. So I've been here before."
Best. Line. Ever.

Sounds absolutely perfect - a wonderful way to celebrate your birthday, thanks for sharing

Bliss! Thanks for sharing.

Oh I've never wanted to be somewhere so badly in my life! What an amazing place and I LOVE the history behind it! I'm so glad you got to spend your birthday in such a fantastic spot!!

Such a fairytale! Perfection. I'm so glad you had the kind of birthday that you never want to end.

xox K

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at