Friday, February 17, 2017

Snowmageddon, Day Five

During the rare times when Portland actually receives measurable snowfall, it usually melts away by the following day.  However, during this January's big storm, not only did we see a whopping 9 inches of white stuff on the ground, thanks to below-freezing temps, it stuck around for an entire week.

The park is still snow-covered

As I've mentioned in previous posts, the Portland metro area doesn't have a large fleet of snowplows, nor does it use salt to clear the streets.  So the deep snowpack sat on the roads and was quickly compacted into icy ruts.  After two perilous ski trips to the mountain, I'd had my fill of navigating the slippery freeways through town.  By day five, which coincidentally happened to be MLK day, I was ready for this snowfall to be gone.  Although a holiday off from work, I opted to stay home.

Wintry scene

It didn't take long for cabin fever to set in.  (One can only do so much reading and web-surfing after all!)  Desperate for an outdoor fix, I grabbed microspikes and camera and headed into the neighborhood.

Reflections a tiny patch of open water

Although tracked up by numerous visitors, the local park was still quite lovely wearing it's winter white.  An adjacent water-filled drainage ditch also looked better with a coat of snow on the banks.  I even captured a few reflections in it's ice-rimmed waters.

Mossy fence

I continued down the slippery main road (so glad for my microspikes!) to our local recreation center.  This place not only has dozens of sports fields, it also boasts a lovely little natural area on the outskirts. 

Brown seed pods

I discovered some unusual-shaped circular snow patterns on the surface of this icy pond.

Interesting snow patterns on icy pond

This snow-covered creeklet draining the pond was also especially lovely.

Snow-lined creeklet

I had fun trying to capture some of the natural beauty created by snow and ice.

Snowy circle patterns

Even some of the fence posts were sporting a dollop of snow.

Snow-topped fence

Wandering by the ball fields, I spotted this snowman on home plate!

Snowman on home plate!

And tried to capture the sparkle of snow crystals on this field.

Shadows on the snow

Back at home, I noticed several small birds visiting our feeder for lunch.

Hungry birds

The following morning, a setting moon bathed our backyard in lovely light.  Late for work or not, I couldn't resist capturing a few images of the scene.

Early morning moon

A full week later, warming temps and abundant rainfall finally washed our snowmageddon away.  Although it was fun while it lasted, I'd much rather keep the snow up in the mountains where it belongs.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Bluebird Day!

A day after the big storm brought over 9 inches of snow to the Portland area, streets in town were still covered with snow and ice.  My ski bus, scheduled to drive to the mountain that day, was cancelled due to poor road conditions.

Empty parking lot!

I was bitterly disappointed.  Who ever heard of a ski bus cancelled because of too much snow?  Adding salt to the wound, my local ski area boasted a huge dump of new snow and sunny skies.  Bluebird days are few and far between here in the Pacific NW, and I didn't want to miss out.

Skiers heading to the lift

But.....I could still drive up.  My ski bus buddy Dean might want to go.  And we both had snow-worthy vehicles.  I fired off a text message to my friend.  He enthusiastically accepted - and even offered to drive!

Beautiful snow covered trees

Next morning Dean and his wife Kathy picked me up early, and we began our journey to the mountain.  First Dean had to negotiate rush-hour traffic through Portland on very treacherous snow-packed roads.  Although the amount of commuters was less than normal, unplowed still-icy freeways slowed everyone down.  We gaped at the amount of abandoned vehicles from the day before, littering Hwy 26 and the approach to the Marquam Bridge.  Then Dean bumped and slid over icy ruts on I-84.  It was a little bit frightening - I just had to look away a couple of times.  Major props to Dean for tackling driving duties!

Perfectly groomed slopes
Surprisingly, driving conditions improved once we left the last Portland suburb.  Highways were mostly clear until the climb up Mt Hood.  Although the pavement wore a tiny coating of snow and ice on the pass at Government Camp, we found the mountain roads to be way better than in town!

Winter wonderland

The forecasters had been spot-on.  Deep blue skies greeted us as Dean pulled into Mt Hood Meadows' nearly-empty parking lot.  Trees were flocked in new fallen-snow.  Absolutely gorgeous!  Totally worth the nail-biting ride to get here!

Skiers heading into Heather Canyon

The three of us jumped on the HRM Lift for a couple laps on freshly-groomed corduroy runs.  The new snow was silky smooth, and we reveled in long stretches of perfect turns.

Soaking in the view

Views on the higher lifts were fabulous.  The surrounding foothills were cloaked in wispy fog, otherwise skies were as clear as a bell.

Frost coated trees

Some of the frosty trees looked like they'd been sprayed with whipped cream.

Kathy makes a turn

Dean is an excellent skier, zipping down the slopes and always looking for the steep terrain.  He's lots of fun to follow down the mountain.  Kathy, more cautious than her hubby, is more partial to the intermediate runs.  But she was a good sport, telling Dean and I if we wanted to try a black diamond or two she'd take the easy way down and meet us at the lift.

Hangin' out on the slope

Dean and Kathy are such a fun couple!  I had a blast skiing with them all day, and catching up with their lives.  Skiing is such a great way to reconnect.

Hood really stands out against the blue sky

Mt Hood's perfectly white summit stood out against the bold blue of the sky.  A photo op if I ever saw one!

Admiring our tracks

I stopped to memorialize our tracks through a patch of barely-touched snow.

Fog bank hovering over the foothills

Stadium, one of my favorite runs at Mt Hood Meadows, is usually closed for racing every weekend.  But on a slow Thursday, the ropes were down and I was raring to ski it.  Although it's a tiny bit steep (I refer to Stadium as an "easy" black diamond) I convinced Kathy come with me  and give this run a try.

More spectacular white trees

The route to get to Stadium is half the fun.  It's quite scenic.  A ridgecrest passes by a stand of lovely snow-clad trees.  Sweeping vistas peek through forest gaps, just begging to be photographed.

Nothing but blue skies

Although Kathy was a wee bit apprehensive looking down from the very top, I told her to take it slow, keep her hands downhill, and make wide turns.  And she did great!  At the bottom, Kathy thanked me for taking her down this run.

Lots of photo ops

Dean's knee started to bother him, so we quit early and headed back to town around 2:30.  Hoping to beat rush-hour traffic, we made it through downtown as dropping temperatures began refreezing the roadways.  Dean slipped past an elevated on-ramp right before a large truck spun out on black ice and blocked the entire thing.  Whew!

A great day!

So glad I was able to get up to the mountain!  The white-knuckle drive through snowy Portland was worth every minute of this heavenly bluebird day.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Snow Day 2017

This winter has been one for the record books.

Normally Portland and the Willamette River Valley are lucky to see a measurable snowfall event once every three years.  But after two snow and ice storms in December alone, I thought that quota was filled.  I couldn't have been more wrong.

Deep snow in our driveway!

The second week of January, forecasters warned a large band of moisture moving towards NW Oregon would collide with subfreezing air streaming out of the Columbia River Gorge.  As flakes began to fall that evening, I felt like a little kid hoping for a snow day.  Although one to four inches was predicted, as night wore on it became apparent they'd missed their mark.  I measured a solid 6 inches of the white stuff before bedtime, and it was still coming down hard.

Snow-covered neighborhood

The next morning, Portland awoke to a winter wonderland.  Nine inches of fluffy snow covered everything.  Since snowfall of this magnitude hardly ever happens here, local jurisdictions were not equipped to handle clearing the streets.  So they told everyone to stay home.  Yahoo - snow day!

Can't even see my skis!

Giddy with excitement, I dug out my cross-country skis.  The best part about having snow at home is being able to ski from your front door.  I took advantage of the new-fallen snow with an early morning tour to our local park.

Snow-flocked branches

I had the park to myself and gleefully made first tracks through it's untouched white canvas.  All the trees with their snow-covered branches made great photo subjects.

I love snow days!

And I even managed one decent selfie.

Snowy scenes from the neighborhood park

Snow makes everything look wonderful, and the park, with it's stately fir trees, was no exception.

My neighbor Penny joined me in the snow

It was so much fun swishing through the park's open fields, I went home and convinced my neighbor Penny to join me. 

White creeklet

Although Penny doesn't ski, she also loves photography, and we had a blast capturing many unique winter scenes.

Red berries

Later that morning, my hubby and I took a walk around the neighborhood.  Although both our vehicles are equipped for snow travel, it was more fun to explore on foot.

Snowman on Taco Bell Drive thru

I couldn't resist adding a tiny snowman to the top of Taco Bell's drive through speaker!  (Luckily the place was closed)

My hubby and I's snowmen

Back at home, my hubby got busy shoveling the sidewalk.  I was supposed to help, but got distracted rolling a huge snowball.  Pretty soon, I had three snowballs, and it somehow morphed into a snowman.

Lots of shoveling too

 Not to be outdone, Roger put down his shovel and built my snowman a buddy.

Happy snowmen

 Pretty cute guys, don't you think? 

Roger's truck has a mohawk!

After the sidewalk and driveway were cleared, Roger got busy sweeping off his truck.  I had to laugh at the chunk of snow stuck in the middle of his windshield.  Kind of looked like a mohawk.

White spotted fence

The snow stuck to our backyard fence in an interesting pattern that I thought was photo-worthy.

Falling snow

By late afternoon, snow began falling once again.  The huge flakes were so pretty, I tried hard to capture them.  A flock of birds hung out in a nearby tree, waiting for us to refill the bird feeder.

Birds looking for food

Living in a place that seldom sees snow, it was fun to have a day off to enjoy Mother Nature's surprise bounty.  We all need a to channel our inner kid once and awhile, and I was thankful for the opportunity to play in the white stuff on this unexpected snow day.

Sharing with:  Through My Lens and Life Thru the Lens

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Fun on the Slopes

After three years of not-so-great snowpacks, winter 2016-17 is shaping up to be a banner season for us Pacific NW skiers.

Me and the girls ready to ski!  (photo by Young)

My girlfriends and I started our ski year with a early December trip to sample the goods at Mt Bachelor. 

Chairlift selfie

The day started out cloudy, but soon snow started in earnest.  Visibility dropped, but the new-fallen snow was so light and plentiful, I didn't really care.

My brother joined us for the fun

My brother joined us girls for some rippin' down the slopes!

Big flakes started falling (photo by Young)

 We had a most excellent day whooshing through the fresh pow.

Ski pole joust! 

And.....maybe a tiny bit of horseplay too!

Happiness is powder snow

 The next day, we arrived to a huge snowstorm.  Strong winds whipped the flakes into a frenzy.

Ice crusted sign

 Trees and trail signs were covered in an icy shell.

Lovely flocked trees

I tried to ski as long as possible, but high winds and poor visibility forced us into the lodge before noon.   Oh well.....there was lots more of the season to come.

Icy tree trunk

New Year's Day found me and my buddies Kim and Hollie up at Mt Hood Meadows.  I love skiing the early morning hours of this holiday - slopes are empty (everyone's still  home sleeping off the previous night's revelery)

Snowy New Year's Day

Snow was falling heavily, with a good six inches of powder.  It was such a great day, I only took a few photos - too busy skiing!

Perfect blue skies!

But just a couple days before New Year's the weather was completely different.  Sunny blue skies ruled.

Chairlift buddies

 Although stormy, powder days are my first love, sunshine on the slopes is the next best thing!

Dramatic clouds at the top of Cascade

 You get to enjoy fantastic views like these from the very highest lift at Meadows.

Sunburst on Cascade Lift

And if you're lucky you might even capture a sunburst or two.

Amazing views from Mt Hood Meadows

I love my home never tires of the panoramic scenery from the slopes of Mt Hood.

Mt Hood selfie

So that's just a sampling from the first few ski outings of winter 2017.  The abundance of white stuff has certainly put a smile on this ski fanatic's face.  Here's to more fun on the slopes!