28 Reasons to Love Portland Right Now: Part VI

No. 23: Because you'll finally be able to hike around Mount Hood again.

See that peak looming on the horizon? That's an active volcano covered in glaciers. Like a young Tara Reid, it's beautiful, but unstable. And like a post-Sharknado Tara Reid, it's finally getting itself together.

After a decade of delay, the U.S. Forest Service announced late last month that the 40-mile trail looping around Mount Hood will be reopened by summer 2017.

The return of Timberline Trail No. 600 is a huge deal for local backpackers. The Salem Statesman Journal has described the only route around the mountain as "perhaps the most iconic pathway in Oregon," WyEast, a local hiking blog, called it "Oregon's premier hiking trail," and Backpacker magazine rated it a perfect 10, describing it as one of the continent's "most memorable hikes."

But in November 2006, a massive flow of debris washed out the bridge crossing Eliot Glacier. The same thing happened in 1996, so instead of promptly replacing the bridge, officials sprinkled the trail with warning signs. Anyone who's circumnavigated Mount Hood since then has had to make a risky scramble across a scree field.

Finally, that's all changing. The new crossing will sit below the previous crossing location, where the USFS says it "will be more protected from the scouring action of the stream as the Eliot branch makes its way down the mountain."

When it's open, get around it while you can, because you never know when Hood will again reclaim it, something officials say is, in the long term, "unavoidable." MARTIN CIZMAR.

No. 24: Because real Portland weather has returned.

Look outside.

Chances are you will be looking at a world of damp pavement. Not wet, damp.

Perhaps there is a sky so white it's as if it's been erased, behind a gentle, misting rain—rain so polite it's hard to differentiate from the air itself. If there is a scary-bright ball in the sky, don't worry. It will go away soon.

That's right. It's Portland out there again. And it is glorious—a three-month sit in a 50-degree sauna.

The past few years, the weather out there has felt ominously strange—long droughts, sudden downpours, thunderstorms where there were not thunderstorms. Even the skies looked wrong, hanging in angry dark vapor that looked like smokestacks.

And it had real effects. During the warmest winter on Portland record, ski season was so bad that Skibowl was open for only 11 days. And then the summer was so hot there's never been a hotter one.

New Portland Weather, we called it—as if all those Californians and Midwesterners had brought it with them.

Well, this year, the snow is back on the mountain. And the rain is back in the sky. And it is good.

At Mt. Hood Meadows, spokesman Dave Tragethon told us things are so good he's hoping for one of the best ski seasons in decades. Skibowl has been open nonstop since the day after Hanukkah.

Portland in December got a nearly unreasonable 15 inches of rain—a result of a storm pattern National Weather Service meteorologist Will Ahue somewhat grudgingly calls "Pineapple Express." ("It's a little derogatory," he says.) But November was within normal limits. January was also plenty rainy at 7 inches.

The year before, we got less than half that.

Maybe this rain is only a fluke. Maybe next year the skies will pelt us with blood and ash, like Al Gore says they will.

But for now, please enjoy the soft rain falling. This is the weather that I grew up with, and it feels so good to see it again. Matthew Korfhage.

No. 25: Because we have the West Coast's yoga mecca.

San Francisco has the Yoga Tree empire, the Harvard of yoga schools, presided over by Janet Stone. Seattle has the ultra-modern, 8,000-square-foot Urban Yoga Spa and @yoga_girl, a goddess of bikini handstands with 1.8 million followers on Instagram. Down in L.A., there are countless nauseatingly trendy studios like Hot 8 Yoga, which claims Jessica Alba and Pink as practitioners on its nonslip, poly-extruded mat flooring.

But Portland now has the West Coast's biggest, most multifaceted yoga center north of Hollywood.

Portland's new mecca of Malasana is Yoga Union's sprawling 10,000-square-foot Richmond neighborhood megaplex, which opened last September. It's called the Breathe Building, and it might be Portland's cleanest complex, boasting the first commercial Earth Advantage Certification in the city, its bones built from 70 percent recycled timber.

You can do high yoga on the roof every Friday at 4:20 during dry months, sweat in the sauna or Vinyasa class, add bacon to your portabello burger at the Fern Kitchen, or pick from a menu of wellness services upstairs. Acupuncture. Waxing. Colon hydrotherapy? All here.

The center has two studios—one 2,300-square-foot chapel of Chaturanga that's perfect for workshops with visiting masters, and the popular Step It Up series (prerequisites: Adho Mukha Vrksasana at a wall and straight arms in Urdhva Dhanurasana).

Chris Calarco, the therapist who brought Michael Jackson yoga to Portland, is not only the instructor for that series, he's also the money behind the Breathe Building and the blissed-out dreams of Yoga Union power couple Annie Adamson and Todd Vogt.

The trio started construction on "America's most sustainable wellness center" three years ago, around the corner from Yoga Union's old home near the east end of Hawthorne Boulevard. Student volunteers helped panel its cedar sauna, and crowdsourced construction from local companies via Facebook, until the old warehouse at Southeast 50th Avenue and Sherman Street was reincarnated.

"The vision is for yoga to be inclusive—kids and even grandparents, too—not just mom," said co-owner Todd Vogt. So there's child care onsite and teen yoga.

But any yogi will tell you it's not about the bones or the body.Yoga is a three-headed beast: body, mind and spirit.

"During construction, a church was torn down on the same block where we were building," says Vogt. "That's just something to notice—yoga studios are serving as meeting places that churches were, and replacing warehouses where maybe 20 years ago business was expanding." ENID SPITZ.

No. 26: Because one of the nation's top bartenders moved here without a job.

Why would one of the best-known bartenders in New York move to Portland at the height of the city's economic boom?

Cheap real estate.

Well, cheapish.

Jim Meehan, co-founder of PDT, an East Village speakeasy, moved to Portland last year. He's a big deal, having been named American Bartender of the Year and referred to as "one of the most eloquent and inventive of modern bartenders" by The New York Times.

"New York is the best place for my career," Meehan says. "But it's not the best place based on income to raise a family."

Although Portland prices have jumped since Meehan, 39, first contemplated relocating a couple of years ago, he says he and his wife and daughter and their French bulldog, Pearl, are thrilled with what they can afford here.

"Is Portland a cheap place to live? No, it's not," Meehan says. "But we've upgraded our quality of life by factor of three. We're getting a much bigger place for the same dollar."

He points to another big advantage Portland enjoys.

"A pint of IPA costs the same in Portland or N.Y. The Nikes cost the same both places," Meehan says. "The obvious thing you have in PDX is no sales tax. It's 9 percent in New York."

Meehan is renting in the Pearl District after seeing his dream homes in Southeast rise above his price range. He had also hoped to put together a bar-restaurant deal in Portland last year. "It went from being a good deal to not a good deal," he says. "I'd be lying if I said 2015 went the way I hoped."

That means for now, the mixologist is on the road a lot, recently in New York, Los Angeles, Aspen, Colo., and Hong Kong, representing Banks rum and headlining cocktail events. He's hoping in 2016 to find a situation that would allow him to open a place in Portland and travel less.

"In New York, I worked all the time and had no life," Meehan says. "Here, I have greatest life in the world but no work. I hope that will change." NIGEL JAQUISS.

No. 27: Because we're settling the debate about home birth.

How safe is it to give birth at home? Turns out, Portland moms are helping settle that debate for the rest of the country's stroller set.

State lawmakers approved a seemingly simple switch in the paperwork new moms fill out after giving birth. In 2012, Oregon became the first to ask all new moms whether they planned to give birth at home or a hospital.

That question is important because a significant number of hospital births start out as planned home births, especially in Oregon, which had the highest U.S. rate of home births in 2012. Before the change, when a baby died after his mother transferred to a hospital, the tragedy counted against hospitals—not home births.

Now, asking moms where they initially labored helps researchers collect better data about the effects of mothers' choices on health outcomes for infants. Last December, The New York Times reported on research from Oregon Health & Science University. The study was aided by the change to Oregon birth certificates.

The findings? While infant mortality rates are low, infants born at home were twice as likely to die as children born in hospitals. Meanwhile, women who gave birth at home were far less likely to face interventions such as inductions. About 25 percent of women who gave birth in hospitals had cesarean sections, compared with about 5 percent in cases of home births.

Jonathan Snowden, an OHSU epidemiologist who led the study, hopes the research helps quiet the mommy wars. That the research couldn't have happened anywhere but Oregon is a happy bonus. "It's a great example," he says, "of how we in Oregon can be ahead of the curve." BETH SLOVIC.

No. 28: Because there is an end in sight.

Before Ammon and Ryan, there were Fred and Carrie.

At last, it appears Oregon's other hostile occupation is almost over.

Yes, Portlandia is coming to an end.

In a recent interview, the cast declared its intention to bring the show to a close after its eighth season. Granted, that's still a lot of jokes about organic produce, pet art and artisanal napkins, or whatever. But for a while, it seemed the show might never end. With the cottage industry that developed during its six years on the air, it could've just continued raking over the same tired observations about liberal narcissism in perpetuity.

Of course, with that much advance warning, this could wind up being a Jay Leno-style bait-and-switch, but the stars certainly seem to be busying themselves with other things. Carrie Brownstein has already decamped to L.A. to focus on writing and other acting pursuits, while Fred Armisen has another IFC series and his gig leading the Late Night With Seth Meyers house band to keep him occupied.

And so, it appears our long local nightmare is just about over. Let's just hope no one gets shot on the way out this time. MATTHEW SINGER.


Reasons to Love Portland Right Now: Part I

Reasons to Love Portland Right Now: Part II

Reasons to Love Portland Right Now: Part III

Reasons to Love Portland Right Now: Part IV

Reasons to Love Portland Right Now: Part V

Reasons to Love Portland Right Now: Part VI