Cascade Cloud Cap Caper 2023

Blackfoot Tucker

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While The Clowder In the Powder was going on in Michigan’s UP, and setting records for attendance, a small group of forum members converged in Hood River, Oregon for a truly epic experience on Mt Hood. Previously, there have been three snowcat events on Mt Hood, and all were on the south side of the mountain - at Timberline Lodge. That facility was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930’s. However, more than 40 years earlier (1889) Cloud Cap Inn was built on the north side of the mountain. The Inn survived for several decades, though it never prospered. In 1942 it was sold to the government, and a few years later (1950) they were ready to burn it , as-in gasoline and matches in hand, when the Crag Rats intervened. The Crag Rats are the oldest mountain search and rescue organization in North America and they negotiated a long-term lease with the US Forest Service. The Crag Rats use it as a base of operations, and they have various organizational events at Cloud Cap during the year.


The Crag Rats are an all-volunteer organization and they eschew donations and fund-raising. Their agreement with the Forest Service requires it be maintained to a very high standard of originality…. all at their expense. But the Cloud Cap Inn needs a new roof, and it’s a very expensive undertaking. Two forum members, Sno-Drifter and Pontoon Princess, have been involved with the Crag Rats for quite a number of years and there is considerable respect and appreciation that works both ways. (I believe Sno-Drifter is an honorary Crag Rat, and the number in that group is a whopping one.)


Pontoon Princess and Sno-Drifter with Crag Rat Deno (pronounced Den-O ) in the background. Sno-Drifter is wearing the official Crag Rat uniform shirt, and all the money in the world won’t buy you that patch, and what it signifies.


The snowcat event at Cloud Cap Inn was quite literally a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. They were opening the doors of the Inn to us as a charitable event to raise some funds for the new roof.

After meeting in Hood River we drove up to a parking area where the snowcats were unloaded from their trailers, and then reloaded with gear for the trip to Cloud Cap Inn. There really wasn’t that much snow, but the wind started blowing. Fortunately, it wasn’t all that bad for the roughly 11.5 mile trip up to the Inn, and we were able to unload the machines without much difficulty. But the strength of the wind kept building. There are two wood stoves and a large fireplace inside the Inn and they were voraciously burning firewood trying to heat the Inn. But the wind… it was a howling. By no stretch of the imagination is the Inn "weather-tight”. Gaps in the siding and around windows and doors resulted in both wind and snow intrusion. The inside temperature was 47 degrees, and that’s with a bunch of people and the wood-burning devices going full-tilt. When the wind died down somewhat, the inside temperature quickly gained about 10 degrees! Being outside when it was really blowing was interesting. Visibility was very limited, and any exposed skin felt like it was being media blasted by snow and ice crystals. Strong wind gusts challenged one’s ability to stay mostly upright. But…I wouldn’t have missed this for anything.

The Crag Rats were incredible hosts. We had a Bluegrass band (Caleb Klauder, Reeb Willms and their friend Caroline Oakley) providing music, and the food? Well, it was AWESOME! Crag Rat James was a fantastic chef, and he was very ably assisted by Paula. Fantastic food, and lots of it!!!

Besides your humble scribe and Mrs Blackfoot, of course we had Mr. and Mrs Sno-Drifter, better known as Scott and Sue; and the Pontoon Princess (Jinn). But also, Mr. and Mrs. Pjointy Chops, Aaron and Anna; 1BG, Jack, Mrs 1BG, Jackie, and their two children (Yes, that would be the show-stealing Lil’ Capn and his little sister Lynnaia); Mr. and Mrs Tye One On (AKA: Nick and April); and even The Infamous WBJ1 showed up - all the way from Georgia. Most fortunately though, The Wonderful Jenn was there to keep him (somewhat) in line.

Many participants can personally vouch for the necessity of a new roof. The ceilings in several of the Inn’s guest rooms started “raining” the following morning. (Nick theorized that the very strong winds had blown snow into the attic, and when the wind had died down the temperature in the attic rose to the point the snow was melting and dripping through the wood ceilings.)

Is this a cool fireplace, or what?


On Saturday morning The Infamous WBJ1 convinced The Wonderful Jenn to go for a hike on snow shoes with him. But... he had an ulterior motive…and something up his sleeve (actually it was probably in his pocket). When they returned it was officially announced he had asked Jenn to marry him, and surprising many of us (most? all?) …she said yes! There was a moving champagne toast from Sno Drifter, and Caleb, Reeb and Caroline played a Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner song, The Right Combination. They followed that up with an impromptu song, Marry Me at Cloud Cap. It was Perfect! Seriously. No Hollywood director could have scripted it better.

Knowing what was going to happen, I wanted one last “before" pic.

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Blackfoot Tucker

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A pic of the happy couple "after".


The weather conditions limited some activities, but inside the Cloud Cap Inn everyone had a great time. Here’s a pic of Lil’ Capn, literally hanging from the rafters. (That’s Crag Rat Joe in the photo ensuring nothing goes amiss.) I was going to write that someday Lil’ Capn is going to be a party animal, but he may have already achieved that status!


Saturday evening was great fun. Caleb, Reeb and Caroline played various songs and none other than Sno-Drifter broke into song with, among others, his rendition of the Buck Owens’ song Act Naturally. He absolutely did it justice, and I suspect many others were as impressed as I was at his singing ability. (I’m not kidding. I commented to Sue how impressed I was and she agreed that he he sang very well.)

A new sub-group of Tucker owners has evolved (or maybe de-volved). They are known as the Green Tucker Mafia. I probably don’t have to say The Infamous WBJ1 is a member, but Nick, Scott and Aaron are all members, too.

Here’s a pic of the miscreants (From left to right: Nick, Scott, Aaron, WBJ1) They’re making a heart sign with their hands, and their not-so-secret sign to one another is using one hand to make half a heart.


Nick, April, and Newman


Mr and Mrs Sno-Drifter (Sue and Scott). Don’t let that serious look on Sno-Drifter’s face fool you. That’s his mug shot look - trying not to smile.


A better pic.


Blackfoot Tucker

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What can only be titled as a rose between two thorns. That's The infamous WBJ1 looking like he’s collared a wanted criminal. (Okay, WBJ1’s real name is Chad, as-in "The Little Chadster”)


I’m not sure how to caption this, but I couldn’t leave it out. (Great pic of Jenn!)


This is PP’s wonderful daughter, Greer, who joined us on Saturday.


Mom and daughter.


Aaron and Anna.


Blackfoot Tucker

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Caleb, Caroline, Reeb…and guess who?


Jack, Lil’ Capn and Jackie.


Jenn and Mrs Blackfoot, Lisa.


When it came time to load up the machines for the trip back down the mountain the wind had returned, and it came back with a vengeance! I honestly think the gusts were 50 knots, and maybe a bit more. On the Beaufort Scale that’s a Force 10 Gale, and that’s some serious wind! To illustrate, as we were just starting down the mountain the lead snowcat was the Crag Rat’s LMC 1500 with Crag Rat Deno at the controls. He climbed outside the cab to do something and was unable to climb back in and close the door. Don’t think for a moment it was due to some infirmity, the wind was simply that strong. He couldn’t balance himself, climb in, and pull the door shut simultaneously. None other than WBJ1 got out and helped Deno complete the task. The weather was both miserable and challenging. Interestingly, once we’d dropped a few hundred feet in elevation the wind was not a factor at all. But it had snowed some the previous night and the wind had blown that snow... completely covering our tracks from the previous trips up the mountain. “The road” was obscured and previous experience and some trail markers were required to pick our way down. A significant part of the trip was through areas badly burned by a very big fire a few years ago (which almost got the Cloud Cap Inn). Decimated would be a good word, and what was left standing were charred hulks of trees with almost all the branches gone. It was a wasteland of what had been a dense forest (and fortunately will be again). The area burned was huge. One dead tree looks a whole lot like another, and it would be very easy to go astray. What lurks just under the snow are hidden logs... and stumps and they aren’t friendly at all to snowcats. It is not an area to play in, but between the experience of Deno and Sno-Drifter, they led us down the mountain, marked trail, or not.


The Group pic.

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Blackfoot Tucker

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I was fortunate to make all three Sun Valley events and they were awesome. In the Blackfoot lexicon of adjectives, there aren’t many that top “awesome”. But this trip was spectacular, and spectacular trumps awesome. The weather wasn’t as cooperative, and there was less snowcatting. In terms of pure “comfort”, both the Sun Valley Inn and the Sun Valley lodge were more luxurious than the Cloud Cap Inn. But the location was superior, and the cause worthwhile. The people: the camaraderie and frienedships of the wonderful Crag Rats, the truly talented musicians, the professional chefs, and the Tucker faithful made the difference.

The drive back to Utah is long, and I had time to reflect on the Crag Rats, and their mission. The more I thought about them, the more impressed I was. In today’s world of social media and the various platforms, it seems “It’s all about me” is a common theme, and various social media “stars” and “presenters” are all the rage.

In my opinion, for far too many people, these are role models. I guess I don’t "get it” because role models to me are people who set the standard for excellence... in important ways. In 1848 the US Lifesaving Service formally began out of private efforts to save shipwrecked passengers and sailors. Without going further into their history, their credo was “You have to go out but, you don't have to come back”. Those concepts of service to others and self sacrifice live on in the Crag Rats. When it comes to role models, I’ll take a Crag Rat every day over a Kardashian.



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Well Penned as always!. Having met most of the folks and even vested some labor stacking lumber off a sawmill, ( wedges to be exact ) your words are spot on. I love the photos and photo journal as looking at snow cats can get boring when you have one. I will likely forget names, I will likely remember places and faces, and sharing these is appreciated.

I will now in the spirit of the ff's group and cohesive culture imparted on veteran participants, attempt a little good natured ribbing. leading the way at the clowder was a KT-4 ( laugh this up ) as the gaggle of tuckers can't find their way out of a single door out house...... and " starting down the mountain the lead snowcat was the Crag Rat’s LMC 1500 " so I guess it goes to show if you want to get anywhere you need to lead in a two track machine!?

( lighten up its a joke)

Pontoon Princess

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it is more like the mountain rescue gene in Deno, "the crag rat" that caused him and the LMC 1500 to take the lead,

here's the rest of the story

a few years ago, that very LMC, experienced a major axle failure on the wagon road up to Cloud Cap, "dead on the trail" and who did they call, yup, you guessed it, the tucker mafia, so, Scott, Sean and I powered up the 500 machines, loaded with enough equipment to do a complete "6 million dollar man" rebuild and we did use every tool, the LMC was busted up pretty good, a few hours later, the new "6 million dollar" LMC was ready to make the technical decent, by the time Deno was about a mile from the parking lot, he was blading and running the new and improved LMC like nothing had ever happened

so, maybe the truth is, the tuckers let the LMC take the honorary position of, "lead cat"

lol, my 2 bits...

moral of the story, let the 2 track lead, the tuckers will have your six.

it was a great adventure

nice try squirrel, remember, never leave home without your tucker friends

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The Sweet Wbj1

Active member
What more can be said than what Blackfoot Tucker already said especially from a caveman like myself????

For Jenn and I CCCC-2023 was the trip of a lifetime. So thankful to be able to go. I have literally never been on a better trip. The trip up was about two hours. We took the original Cloud Cap road up and down from the lodge and, at least for me, they way up was FULL of white knuckle catting! At times we had one side of a pontoon hanging over the edge of the trail. You cross over Ghost Ridge where apparently many experienced skiers have got caught in bad weather and never made it home. The last climb to the lodge was EXTREMELY STEEP! The lodge was amazing. So much history there with pictures, books, articles, etc all over the walls and shelves I didn't have enough time to take it all in. The site was phenomenal with spectacular views out the front and Mt Hood breathing down your neck in the back. The weather was much worse than anything I've ever experienced, even after many years at 10,000' in Colorado, and the ferocious weather really did just make everything perfect. All I could do was sit back and imagine it was 1890 and here we are at Cloud Cap.

Coming down Ghost Ridge - Photo credit Anna Cooper

All of that was unbelievable, but really the best part was the people. What a great bunch of folks. I just can't stress that enough. For example, 23 folks all sharing one bathroom and there wasn't a single complaint. Not one. Everyone was just so happy and extremely thankful to be there as was I. I am not a poet like BFT so hard to put together the right words. I would open my home to any of them. I am extremely thankful they let a caveman tag a long.

To me life is all about the stories we end up with. Personally I will always have proposing to Jenn at Cloud Cap and that was amazing. Our first big trip together was Sun Valley 2021 and it looks like we will be getting married in the Sawtooths in 2024 by none other than the Sawtooth Preacher!! I will also have the story about how The Green Cat Mafia was formed. I have not laughed that much in a long time. It currently seems like I may be unknowingly and unwillingly the catalyst of forming the group, but IMHO I would say Sno-drifter is the O.G. founding member. I have caught so much flak about the Toyota Army Green sno cat that sometimes I have questioned choosing Toyota Green. Then walking in to work this morning this is the first thing I see. I think it was a sign from God.


So, to all my GSCM brothers........
This was such a great time! A huge thanks to the Crag Rats, as well as Scott, Jinn, and everyone who attended. We had a wonderful time in the cat, (the trip both up and down never disappoint), the inn is amazing and inspiring (not as easy task to build and maintain a building at 6000' - not to mention making it last 130 years), plus we completely appreciated and enjoyed the friendship, and time spent with everyone. The music and food were both awesome and I can't think of anything that would have made this trip any better. Thanks again to everyone! #greensnocatlove💚 :mrgreen::mrgreen::mrgreen:


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It was a real honor and privilege for my family to be invited to join this group of fellow snowcatters and to be hosted by the Crag Rats. Food for the soul I think. Like The Sweet Wbj1 there is no chance I can do justice with words, so perhaps if a picture is as good as a thousand words ........



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Undoubtedly many of you have seen this image.

I have it hanging in my RV with this Native American saying next to it;
"As you go the way of life, you will see to a great chasm. Jump. It's not as wide as you think."

There is a photo, that I would guess is 70ish before photoshop, hanging in the Inn which is the perfect real life personification.


Lil Capt practicing up.
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A little redundant of BFT, but I'm thinking about a couple things he said.

Joseph Campbell, who had been a close consultant to George Lucas for the first Star Wars, was asked what his favorite scene was by a media person. Them sure the man who wrote, "Hero with a thousand faces", would say one of Luke's battles scenes, but no. He said the bar scene. Perplexed the interviewer asked why. Campbell said, "because here were the ones who had been to the wasteland and made it back."
Campbell understood the 'wasteland' as a metaphor for inauthenticity. Campbell also states that the wasteland can be transformed through the vitalization of living authentic lives --- a vital person vitalizes.

Definitely a moment of, vital people, a vital place, and a vital Nature. Not a Kardashian in site 😉
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Excellent job of capturing the essence of CCI 1bg.
BTW have you considered doing stand in for Jack Nickolson?


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Undoubtedly many of you have seen this image.
View attachment 161179
I have it hanging in my RV with this Native American saying next to it;
"As you go the way of life, you will see to a great chasm. Jump. It's not as wide as you think."

There is a photo, that I would guess is 70ish before photoshop, hanging in the Inn which is the perfect real life personification.

View attachment 161173
Lil Capt practicing up.
View attachment 161174View attachment 161175View attachment 161176View attachment 161177View attachment 161178
BTW that is a non photoshop photo of a real Crag Rat jumping the glacier.


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BTW that is a non photoshop photo of a real Crag Rat jumping the glacier.
Yes, the real deal right there 🙂


"BTW have you considered doing stand in for Jack Nickolson?"

That's funny because I joke with Jackie about having too much in common with his characters, as in what kind of crazy today.


But the truth is, it's mostly just the hair in the morning now that I have it short again.

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I have not had the privilege of meeting any of the Snowcatter’s in person ,other thank Jack but thank you for sharing all the photos, and a big thank you to who ever was responsible for putting the event together looks like off the chart fun