By Katelyn Kommer
From Sandy, Oregon
As two women traveling to Oregon for the first time, Alex Kereszti and I heard countless times that after climbing Mt. Hood that we had to visit Joe’s Donuts in the quaint town of Sandy.
The climbing world considers the town of Sandy synonymous with a post-summit treat.
Joe’s Donuts, a red-brick, classic doughnut shop truly lived up to its reputation as a climber’s après-paradise, but we wanted to get to know Sandy and its people on a deeper level than just delicious pastries.
Gateway to Mt. Hood
When we stopped by the Sandy Historical Society and Visitor’s Center we were immediately greeted by three female volunteers who were steeped in knowledge about their town, and couldn’t wait to tell us about the True Gateway to Mt. Hood.
Nestled between Portland and Mt. Hood, Sandy was founded in 1845 along the Oregon Trail. Sandy was the original launching point for climbing Mt. Hood before a few other little towns along Highway 26 began popping up to cater to skiers and climbers.
Decades of adventurers have passed through the small town to gather gear, satisfy a ravenous appetite or enjoy a brief rest.
As Mt. Hood’s popularity has grown, the town of Sandy has made the effort to provide information to travelers about the inextricable nature of the town and the mountain.
Ann Marie Amstad, Sandy native and volunteer for the Historical Society, showed us it’s not necessary to climb a mountain in order to have a profound connection with it.
“It is part of my life and when we travel, we have a poster in our trailer to share with others, because it is an awesome place,” Amstad said. “Mt. Hood is part of Sandy.”
More than Climbing
Recreation in the area isn’t limited to climbing Mt. Hood as there is abundant hiking, fishing, walking, climbing, camping and picnicking opportunities available throughout the Mt. Hood National Forest.
Having lived in the shadow of Mt. Hood her entire life, Amstad cannot imagine a day without Oregon’s tallest peak — 11,250 feet — in her neighborhood.
“I can see Hood from my backyard,” Amstad said. “I drive by the Jonsrud viewpoint and see how the beautiful view majestically stands out.”
The Jonsrud viewpoint at sunset, we discovered ourselves, was stunning. The illumination of the sky’s soft purples and pinks gently softened Hood’s mountain peaks.
Amstad shared the myriad of ways this beautiful place touches the lives of both first-time visitors and long-time residents. Though she has never climbed the mountain herself, her family’s roots in the area have led to a true appreciation for why people are drawn to climb and stand on top of Oregon.
“My father climbed it 10 times,” Amstad said. “When he took my mother and my aunt with him, he stood on top of his head on the summit!”
After we climbed Mt. Hood ourselves, we spent a few days in Sandy because we didn’t want to miss the chance for human connection to deepen our experience.
From the hours we spent at Mountain Moka drinking coffee to wandering through the Tollgate Inn Bakery looking for souvenirs, we fell deeply in love with this little town—and its affection for offering the best pastries around!
Katie Kommer is a writer and adventurer whose main goal is to share the stories mountains have to tell. You can read her stories at www.smalltowns2summits.com.