Let's not sugarcoat the obvious: Winter in Portland is something to escape.
Sure, we don't have those malevolent Chicago winds that pierce the thickest wool and carve out pieces of bone. Our snow drifts only on breezes, accompanied sooner or later by cleansing rain.
But the clouds. Those goddamn clouds. Water and air reach an uneasy truce sometime in the middle of November, and eventually everything you see is fog and misting rain. The sky is damp and gray, the buildings damp and gray, the streets damp and gray.
It totally wears you down. A Portland city winter is a war of slow attrition, and sooner or later everyone will succumb.
So we say to you, in our inaugural Winter Guide: Escape!
Or escape instead to the pristine alternate world of the mountains, where winter exists as an actual thing: multiple feet of snow and ice preserved in the thin air.
Summer sports are pointless. The sun is already so warm, the world already so interesting and inviting—this flower, that girl or boy, the peculiar quality of the light at 6 am—but in the winter, a 40-mph ski slope fast approaching in dizzying snow-glare will remind you that you're still very much alive.
Or, heck, escape to your own youth: We sent a 6-foot man out on the mountain to test children's sleds.
There's also an unintended theme to this Winter Guide: If there's one thing Portlanders want to escape in the winter, it's our own heads. Whether boarding, biking, curling or sledding, we all prefer to have a little brandy in our bellies or a cardamom-bittered toddy warming our cheeks.