Oh, Government Camp. A melting pot of the ski industry big cats during the dog days of summer. A place where winter sport brand reps, coaches, elite level athletes, ex-olympians, junior racers, summer camp enthusiasts and the likes all end up within a 10 mile radius of each other and the mighty Mount Hood. Spend a couple weeks in Govy and the town starts to close in on you a little bit, but only in the best of ways. For ski industry professionals, the town might be just as much of a summer camp as it is for aspiring ski racers attending camps like the Ligety Weibrecht Ski Camp, Mount Hood Summer Ski Camp or Erich Sailer’s Ski Racing Camp. Rain or high elevation sunshine (and man does it like to rain in June), the main drag crawls with goggle-tanned young athletes dressed in their dryland apparel carrying Huckleberry Shakes giggling around to each ski brand’s test centers where they can try out the latest and greatest in racing boots and skis for their season ahead. These kids may not realize that they run the place, but they so do. Govy is the cool kids club of the ski industry in the summer and it’s been this way for a long long time.
More than likely, if you are a ski racer of any sort, you’ve passed through Government Camp at some point in your career, and arguably at some of the most developmental periods of time in one’s pursuit to the top of their athletic ability. So what does it take to make the most out of this special little Route 26 Oregonian dot on the map? Let’s take a look.
1. Bring Your Mountain Bike
The trails in Oregon are unreal. A lot of people head out to Hood River about an hour outside of Government Camp to ride the Post Canyon trail system which has some incredible terrain. Only a 25 minute drive from Government Camp or even closer if you’re staying in Welches, the Sandy Ridge Trail system is also one for the books. Oregon is filled with green trees and lush forest ground and this always tacky trail system cuts right through the heart of the ponderosa pines, massive fern growth and even offers up some shade because of it. On a hot day, you can expect to sweat. It’s humid in Oregon. But these trails are like nothing else with damp soft ground, light roots here and there and a fairly gradual steep uphill on-road climb that leads to a few different downhill options. The Ski Racing Media crew opted for the “Communication Breakdown” trail and sent it down to “Quid Pro Flow”.
2. Take a Hike
Every year, Erich Sailer’s Ski Racing Camp rally’s a handful of their campers to do a “who can make it to the top first” run starting at the base of Government Camp at the Summit Café and they wind their way up 5.8 miles up the old Timberline West logging road, finishing at the Main Lodge underneath Mt. Hood in all its glory. It’s brutal if you try to race up it, but if you’re just out for a jog, there a plenty of trails like the Cross Town Trail and the Glade Trail that can connect you toward Hood from Govy with a bit softer of trail base than the Old Timberline West road.
3. Eat Good Food
For breakfast, the High Mountain Café at the end of town makes an incredible and massive sausage egg burrito for close to 10 bucks, or if you’re watching your figure, they’ll let you get away with the burrito bowl with all the same fillings and without the tortilla.
The Ski Racing Media staff has a bit of a tradition when it comes to margaritas to start our work trips off on the right foot. We stopped in at the Taco Shoppe and ordered a spicy Mango Margarita and we must say, it made the top ten list of staff tested tried and true margs.
If you’re staying in Welches or are up for the short drive over that direction, the Koyo Kitchen is a classic quirky sushi spot right off Route 26 and has great beer options and of course, sake too. You order at the food truck and can take your sushi out to the backyard area with hammocks, adorable string lighting and wooden benches.
4. Let Loose (for the 21 and older ski camper audience)
Government Camp is a lot like Ground Hogs Day if you stay there for more than three days. Camps are on an early morning schedule with wake up calls as ripe as 4:00 am to be able to load the lifts, set the courses, and get all the kiddos fed and ready for the day before 6:30 a.m. when the Palmer Lift lets its flood gates open. By 1:00, coaches are ready for an adult beverage. Remember how it was mentioned that Government Camp might just be summer camp for ski industry professionals just as much as it is for young campers? Well, Charlie’s Mountain View Bar would be the Headquarters for that camp. Yes, feeling fresh and ready to go at 5:00 a.m. for the next day of skiing is great, but Charlie’s has a way of pulling you in and spitting you out into the wee hours of the night. But the Ski Racing Media crew only heard that through the grapevine…
5. Invest in Blades
Have you joined the movement yet? Once you get on blades, it’s hard to want to use two feet to get anywhere when you can strap on wheels to get to your destination with so much more efficiency. That said, it’s also an incredible workout and cross-training tool for ski racers in the summer. The Government Camp Loop road down to the main Ski Bowl entrance makes for quick road laps with a wicked view of Mount Hood as a backdrop. It doesn’t get much better.
6. Make Friends with Ski Reps
You name a prominent race ski brand and they have a presence at Govy in the summer with pop up test center shops strewn throughout the main street. Head, Rossignol/Lange, Marker/Dalbello/Volkl, Atomic, Blizzard/Tecnica, Fischer and Nordica all set up skis, boots, helmets, poles, and gear for racers to demo for the day and get a feel for which set up they might want to rock next season. Make sure you talk to the reps, they know their stuff. Ask them questions about their gear, snag stickers and posters from the test centers and take full advantage of your location at the hub of ski racing in the summer!
7. Naps are key
For those long days, a nap around 1:00 after a stellar morning up on the glacier will get you going for whatever comes next in your afternoon.
8. Silent Rock
On your way from Welches to Mount Hood, there’s a rock structure on skier’s right of the road. It’s not just any rock structure, it’s silent rock. You pass the rock in the matter of six or seven seconds, but during that time, everything must go quiet. Turn down the music, hold your breath if you have to, but do not talk. It’s an age old summer camp tradition, likely started by a desperate coach in search of ways to get his athletes to stop talking for a mere six to seven seconds, but hey, it works!