April 22nd, 2009 Shawn O'bryant | Featured Stories
 

Boarded

One day, three sports and 10,500 feet in elevation change.

     
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HAT-TRICK CONQUEROR: WW intern Shawn O’Bryant.
IMAGE: Daniel Cronin

What the hell am I doing here?

This morning I was on Mount Hood; this afternoon, underneath the Burnside Bridge. And now? I’m staring out at the Pacific Ocean, smelling of salt. And my knee is bleeding. I’m on the tail end of a crazy trip. Not the acid-induced kind, but one just as bizarre and potentially harmful.

Skateboarding, surfing and snowboarding are the holy board-sports trinity around here. They share a common heritage, but have evolved in three drastically different outdoor environments. As we head into spring, a unique window of opportunity arises: the world-class urban, coastal and alpine terrains our state boasts for these activities are all accessible at the same time. Which means, theoretically, it’s possible to do all three in the same day—to pull off a boarding hat trick.

Now, this endeavor is often talked about but rarely attempted—after WW challenged me to try to conquer Mount Hood Meadows, the Burnside Skatepark and Short Sands Beach on the Oregon Coast in a single day, I found out why. Attempt at your own risk.

Tuesday, 7:30 am: After a few rushed cups of coffee, I’m on my way to the mountain in my much-abused ’91 Toyota station wagon. After topping off my gas tank in Sandy ($1.95 a gallon at Arco!), I break out of the urban sprawl into the land of Christmas-tree farms and alpine forests.

8:45 pm: I pick up a pair of the hitchhikers who seem to always congregate outside Welches, and they somehow cram all their gear into the car. They wish me luck as I drop them off at Government Camp, seriously doubting my ability to achieve the hat trick.

10 am: Spring’s assault on the mountain makes its grandeur even more striking. But blazing sun makes Hood more dangerous. The biggest cause of injury in the springtime is sunburn. I make sure to slather on the SPF 15. There’s hardly a soul on the mountain and lift lines are nonexistent. Giddy with freedom, I charge 10-minute laps from top of lift to top of lift.

1 pm: The temperature has reached past 50 degrees and the ground’s turned from a pleasant slush to snow so wet it feels like riding on glue. Time to move on.

1:15 pm: As I ride back to Portland, my legs start to stiffen up. Years of boarding abuse have my joints creaking like an old wheelbarrow. I’m screwed.

3:15 pm: As I roll up to Burnside Skatepark, I’m greeted by a hodgepodge of skateboarders celebrating the emergence of the sun. PDX skaters, especially the ones at Burnside, are like grizzly bears—they hibernate all winter, are fiercely territorial and come out of their dens pissed off and ready to shred come spring. The park is packed. Guys are flying everywhere, blasting huge airs over the hips and grinding through the parking-block coping. Tunes blast from a beat-up stereo, dogs run rampant, beers are consumed.

4:30 pm: I’m soaked in sweat, bruised and battered, yet still excited for the beach.

4:42 pm: I’m stopped in my tracks as I hit Beaverton rush-hour traffic. By the time I make it through the Coast Range, the wind is out of my sails. I’m exhausted and frustrated, and my limbs are screaming at me to let them rest.

6:30 pm: The walk down to beautiful Short Sands Beach in Oswald West State Park, feels like a forced march towards a self-devised torture chamber. The novelty of my little mission has worn off—I’m sunburned from Hood and sweaty and bloodied by Burnside, and I only have pounding waves and freezing water to look forward to.

6:33 pm: The ocean is cold. Damn cold. Even with a wetsuit.

6:50 pm: I have a crushing “I just ate too much ice cream” headache. I surf for a few minutes more, getting pitched over the falls and dumped into a whitewash roller coaster that drives freezing water into my inner ear. Enough is enough; I can only do so much for WW. I limp out of the water to collapse on the beach. Peeling off my wetsuit seems like an insurmountable final burden. Instead I lay in the sand, still suited up, and stare at the darkening skies.

7:36 pm: A small bonfire on the beach crackles and warms my bones. I’m too tired to move, and content to lay on the beach and watch the sunset.

11 pm: I arrive back in Portland, beaten by my adventure. It cost me 15 1/2 hours, 340 miles, 2 1/2 tanks of gas and about 10,500 feet in elevation change. Despite all the diverse terrain around, it seems that its best to focus on one hobby at a time if you want to maximize pleasure rather than pain. Then again, I did conquer all the hat trick: talkers talk, but I had boarded, skated and surfed the walk.

 
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