Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 in Photos

It's time once again for my second annual "Year in Photos" post.  The year 2012 was full of trips to truly amazing places, both here in the PNW and beyond.  Although many of these images were easy choices, I struggled with a few, trying to decide upon the best ones to include.  Hopefully these shots meet with your approval.   Enjoy my trip down memory lane!

Size matters!  Click on any photo to enjoy a larger image.

Aspen glade, Powderhorn Ski Area, Colorado

January -  The snow was slow to come to Mt. Hood's slopes.   Perfect time for a ski trip to Colorado!  I journeyed to Grand Junction to ski the Powderhorn Resort with the Brave Ski Mom.  After experiencing a Colorado powder day, it was hard to return to the "Cascade concrete" of the PNW.

Wonderful backcountry ski trip at White River

February - Wishing to gain more backcountry skiing experience, this winter I "helped" with the Mazamas ski mountaineering class.  The winter skills session landed on an amazing bluebird day and the views up White River Canyon could not have been more perfect.

Cool ice-crusted trees at Mt. Bachelor

March - Mt. Bachelor is hands-down my favorite place to ski in Oregon.  There's always something beautiful to see from its slopes.  On a girl's trip with my favorite ski buddy, we marveled at the cool shapes made by these ice-encrusted trees.

I celebrate my success in reaching Illumination Saddle

April - Hands-down the best ski trip of 2012, friends John, Young, and I skied up the side of Mt. Hood all the way to Illumination Saddle.  It was an amazing blue-sky spring day and the views from 9,000 feet couldn't be beat!  However, skiing back down through velvet-smooth "chandelier snow" was the highlight of my day.

Wildflower explosion on Dog Mtn

May - Time to trade the skis for hiking boots, I spent every weekend on a trail somewhere.  But the spring trek up Dog Mountain to see balsamroot in bloom is a yearly tradition.  It's one of my very favorite wildflower hikes.  I think you can see why.

Indian Beach, Oregon Coast

June - Although not a frequent visitor to the Oregon Coast, an article in Backpacker magazine inspired me to check out a trail once used by Lewis and Clark.  An incredibly beautiful path that paralleled the ocean, it left me hungry for more beach exploration.

One of the many amazing views on the Bluff Mtn Trail

July - Getting turned around in a maze of Forest Service roads left my friends and I at the wrong trailhead.  Not wanting to backtrack, we decided instead to check it out.  And the Bluff Mountain Trail rewarded us with expansive mountain panoramas and oodles of flowers.  One of my favorite hikes in 2012.

Three Finger Jack rises above Canyon Creek Meadows

August - Returning home from a trip to Bend, I made a pit stop to check out Canyon Creek Meadows Trail.  I discovered a lovely flower-filled basin with jaw-dropping views of Three Finger Jack Mountain.  Another favorite hike for the year.

Rock lookout tower, Harney Peak, SD

September - I traveled to South Dakota to visit family.  Imagine my delight when it was suggested we take a hike.  And even better - we climbed Harney Peak, one of my favorite trails in the Black Hills.  It was fun to revisit this amazing area.

Forest ablaze with fall colors, Indian Heaven Wilderness

October - Marathon training dominated most of September and kept me off the trails.  But once my race was run, it was back to the forest!  And a little rain wasn't going to stop me.  Bear and I spent a wet, but wonderful day in the Indian Heaven Wilderness.  The fall colors were the best I've seen.

South Falls, Silver Falls State Park

November - Anxious not to miss the peak of fall colors, I took a rainy trek through Silver Falls State Park.  The colorful foliage and gushing waterfalls were well worth getting a little bit wet.

Eagle Creek Trail, Columbia River Gorge

December - While waiting for the snow to accumulate on the mountain, Bear and I passed the time with a trek on the Gorge's famous Eagle Creek Trail.  An amazing trail with dizzying views, hiking here is always an adventure.  Even in late fall, this place is incredibly beautiful.  Yes, it's true - there's never a bad time to hike in the Gorge.

So that's my 2012 photo adventures in a nutshell.  Lots of good material for blogging and creating a calendar.  And speaking of calendars, I'd like to announce the winner of the "Linda's Lens" calendar giveaway.  The lucky person is Sharon, who blogs at Gains and Losses: Life Through Sharon's Eyes.  Sharon, please email me at with your address, and I'll get the calendar in the mail to you.  Thanks everyone who commented.  I really enjoying hearing from so many nice people.

Here's to more great adventures in 2013.  I'm planning some fun things for the coming year.  And you know, I'll be photographing them to share with you all right here at Linda's Lens.

Wishing everyone a Happy New Year!

Linking to:  Share Your Cup Thursday and This or That Thursday.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Sunshine and Powder

Mother Nature gave Mt. Hood an early present.  She dumped five feet of snow during the week before Christmas.  Let the skiers rejoice!

Size matters!  Click on any photo to enjoy a larger version.

A clean, white canvas of new snow

Christmas Eve day, I headed to the mountain to partake in the snowy goodness.  I hit the lift right at its 9 am opening.  The beautiful new, untracked snow spread out below me.  It looked like a blank artist's canvas, ready for his paintbrush.

Untracked pow in Two Bowl

Finally released from the lift, I noticed everyone was swarming to the bowls, vying for first tracks.  Originally planning to take an easy first run, I scuttled those plans and headed straight for Two Bowl.  There were already a few scars marring Two Bowl's perfect powdery slope.  But upon dropping in, I discovered a large untouched section.  It was pure fluffy bliss, all the way to the bottom.  What a great way to start the day!

Blue sky makes an appearance

The blue sky broke out of the clouds and lit up the new-fallen snow.  It seemed as though the heavens had descended upon Mt. Hood Meadows.

Virgin snow ready for the tracking

I stuck to the Express lift, while a good portion of the snow-riders headed elsewhere in search of fresh tracks.  With most of the people absent, I had entire runs to myself.  More pow for me!

Wintry scene

Due to high winds, the upper Cascade Lift wasn't open.  The untracked snow from its slopes, rippled by the wind, made quite a stunning photo op. 

Ripples in the new snow

Kind of like waves in a big white ocean.

Heather Canyon is open!

Mid-day, I headed over to the Shooting Star Lift.  I got into line just in time to hear that the ski patrol was opening Heather Canyon.  After riding to the top, I naturally headed over that way to check it out.  I found a crowd of people on top of Twilight Bowl, all preparing to make some tracks.  Wanting to avoid the crowds, I skied down to the gates for Moon Bowl.  It was deserted, save for a small group of snowboarders sitting near the top.

Mt. Hood anchors Heather Canyon

The snow, although slightly wind-packed looked amazing.  After a couple shots from my camera, I quickly dropped in.  The snow was everything I'd hoped for - light, fluffy and deep.  One of the snowboarders above me cried "cowabunga!" and plunged into the snowy slope. He zipped by me in a cloud of white.  His buddies followed, whooping and hollering as they sped downhill.  I floated along in the pillow soft powder.  It was hands-down the best run of the day.

Looking down into Moon Bowl

Riding the lift back up, my chair-mates and I spotted Santa skiing down the slope below us.  We all had a good laugh, and one of the guys commented "Shouldn't he be getting ready for his big night?"

Frosty white trees

My Christmas present came early this year.  Sunshine and fresh powder - ski days don't get any better than this!

Linking to:  52 Photos Project and This or That Thursday.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas Giveaway!

One of the best things about having a blog is hearing from so many interesting, wonderful people.  When I first started blogging, I didn't expect many readers.  (After all, I'm just a nerdy engineer who likes to take photographs)  Then, every once and awhile I'd get a comment.  Total validation - someone out there liked my post enough to say something.  It really made my day!

My readership has really taken off this year.  Just this month, I reached the 40,000 pageviews mark.  I consistently get comments on most every post (there are some really wonderful people who always leave a comment!  I love it!)  Linda's Lens has grown to 50 followers on Google Friend Connect, and 36 on my new Facebook page.  Small potatoes compared to some blogs, but I'm absolutely thrilled!

To thank all you readers who faithfully follow and comment, I'm sponsoring my first-ever giveaway.  For family Christmas presents this year, I printed up calendars featuring my favorite photographs from my blog over the past year.  I happen to have an extra calendar, that I'd like to give to one lucky reader.

To be eligible to win this fine calendar, you must do the following:

1.  If you don't already, sign up to follow my blog, either on Google Friend Connect or Facebook.  There are buttons my blog's sidebar to assist you with this process.

2.  Leave a comment on this post or the Linda's Lens Facebook page.  What's your favorite Linda's Lens photo/blog post from 2012?

All comments must be received by 5 pm PST Sunday, December 30th, 2012.  The winner will be determined by random drawing.  I'll announce the lucky person's name on December 31st.

Due to large amounts of spam I kept getting this past fall, I've changed my blog settings so that only registered users can comment.   Hopefully this won't hinder anyone, but if you have troubles commenting or getting registered, please email me at:

Again, thanks so much to all of you for reading, commenting, and taking interest in my stories.  Merry Christmas to you all!  And stay tuned for my annual year-end recap "2012 in Photos" post coming your way on December 31st.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Weekend 2-fer

Woo-hoo!  I was lucky enough to ski two consecutive days last weekend.  Not only that, I visited two different ski resorts.  From one day to the next, the weather couldn't have been more different.
Size matters!  Click on any photo to enjoy a larger version.

First tracks

Friday, I left foggy, gray Portland bound for Mt. Hood Meadows.  The forecast called for a snowy day, so you can imagine my surprise when pulling into the parking lot, I was greeted with lovely blue skies.

Sunshine on Four Bowl

Not only blue skies, but an inch or so of new snow to boot!

Love the blue skies!

I had a most excellent morning, reacquainting my legs with the mechanics of tele-turns.

Looking down the Face of HRM

And making some tracks through the lovely new snow.

Snowy bushes

Of course, being by myself, I had lots of time to stop and take photos whenever the mood struck me.  Like when I saw this bare bush with snow clinging to its branches.

Sun above clouds

Or when I traveled to the very top of the resort, and spied this wonderful sunburst hovering above the clouds.

Fantastic views from on high

The very top of Hood rose up from the slopes like a great white sentinel.

Afternoon light

Some lunch and a short nap in my car recharged me for the afternoon's session.  The lowering sun provided interesting light on the forest....

I never tire of this view

And on the mountain.  I love this view of Hood in the late afternoon.  One of the great things about skiing Meadows on a sunny day.

Stormy day on Mt. Bachelor

After skiing all day, I packed up and drove two hours to my brother's house in Bend.  Saturday was going to be another ski day.  My first trip to Mt. Bachelor for the season.

The next day dawned, cloudy and windy.  A storm was blowing in.  Arriving at Mt. Bachelor, the first flakes started falling.  Although there would be no blue skies, the prospect of new snow made me giddy.

Trying out some fatty skis

Mt. Bachelor was having free demos that day.  In the market for some new alpine skis, I eagerly stood in line for a chance to try out the latest equipment.  The Salomon folks found me a pair of wide, fat powder boards.  Although a little apprehensive to ride on something that more closely resembled water skis, I agreed to give them a try.

Cold, snowy lift ride

It was love at first turn!  I couldn't believe how well those fatties sliced through the snow.  I took them on the crustiest, most cut up off piste slopes I could find.  And they busted the crud like a hot knife through butter.  Pure magic!  The skis were so much fun, I didn't want to give 'em back.

Lots of snow in Bend!

But after skiing through lunch and half the afternoon, my tired legs and rumbling tummy forced me to take a break.  By then the snowfall that had been falling all day started cranking up the volume.  Driving back into Bend I encountered snowy and slick roads all the way into town.  It dumped snow all night, and we woke Sunday morning to three inches on the ground.

Snow-capped ornaments

The light, fluffy snow was so beautiful.  It sparkled on the trees, and provided the finishing touch to these Christmas ornaments in my brother's yard.  Mt. Bachelor was reporting nine inches of fresh new powder.  Sadly, my legs were too pooped to even consider skiing a third straight day. 

Although not easy to squeeze in, I was glad I carved out time for this quick ski trip.  It was a nice early season break before the holiday madness descends upon my life.

Linking with: This or That Thursday.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Skiing Under the Rainbow

All summer and fall I'd waited for this day.  Waxed my skis, purchased a few items of new gear, watched some ski movies, and patiently monitored the snow reports.  Winter comes in fits and starts to the mountains of the Pacific Northwest.  One system dumped a ton of snow, and the next day a "pineapple express" rainstorm washed it all away.  But slowly the white stuff began to accumulate on my favorite mountain.

Size matters!  Click on any photo to enjoy a larger version.

All suited up and ready to go!

Although Mt. Hood Meadows, the local resort, opened on Thanksgiving, I waited for the snowpack to get deeper.  Wanting enough coverage over the rocks and trees, I held out for two weeks.  Last Sunday I could take it no longer.  With my friend Kim in tow, we headed to the mountain.

The slopes look good

While Kim and her son stood in line for their season passes, I grabbed my telemark skis and headed for the lift.  Working through pre-season jitters on the lift ride (hoping I hadn't forgotten how to ski), I was pleasantly rewarded with soft snow for my very first turns.  Ahhhh.....everything came back so quickly - like riding a bicycle!

Lovely snow-covered trees

Of course the snow snakes had waited all summer for my return.  And one caught me on a patch of skied-off ice.  My skis slid out from under me and WHAM! -  my hip made contact with the rock-hard snow.  Oooh.....that's gonna hurt later.

Cloud bank down low

My first fall now out of the way,  I met up with Kim for some serious skiing.  The weather was acting very strange.  At the lodge, conditions were foggy.  But traveling to the top of the lift, we broke out of the clouds into blue sky.  Views up here were mighty impressive.  The low cloud bank created some interesting sights from on high.

Fog rolling in

But then we'd ski back into the misty fog.  Ugh - visibility wasn't the greatest.  And we were constantly wiping moisture from our goggles.

Kim gets caught in the fog

Still it was wonderful to be back skiing again.  My legs held up much better than I'd anticipated.  I silently gave thanks to Stacey, who teaches my Tuesday weight training class.  Although I cursed her at the time, all those lunges she forced me to do now meant I could make tele-turns all morning.

I model my wet jacket

The misty fog seemed to come and go.  One minute we'd be socked in, the next we'd be basking in the sunshine.  The clouds started to spit mist, which soaked my coat and gloves.  But the snow was good, so we kept making runs.

Rainbow over Heather Canyon

And then I looked up and saw a rainbow hovering over Heather Canyon.  Yes, a RAINBOW!  In all my years of skiing, I've seen lots of wacky weather, but never a rainbow.  Only in the Pacific Northwest!  (Maybe there's a pot of powder at the end of this rainbow??)

Ski buddies

After a quick lunch break, Kim and I were greeted with a light drizzle.  Ugh!  But we got out there and took some runs anyway.  Why not?  We'd traveled up here to ski, and besides, we were partially wet already.  The snow wasn't bad.  It was really soft - felt like spring skiing (not early December snow).  It was great to be back on the slopes with my oldest and best ski buddy.

A brief sunbreak on Shooting Star Ridge

Finally by midafternoon, our clothes soaked through, Kim and I decided we'd had enough.  Heading in to the lodge, Kim turned too soon and we ended up on a black diamond run called "Showoff."  Normally this wouldn't be a problem, but today Showoff was more rocks and trees than snow.  A dozen young male snowboarders gathered on top peering at the slope, trying to figure out the best line down.

What to do?  Kim and hugged the side of the run, where snow was more plentiful, and picked our way down, one turn at a time.  And we survived - no snow snake encounters!

Only in the PNW are there rainbows when we ski!

Yeah, conditions weren't stellar.  It was your typical PNW warm, wet ski day.  But here on Hood, we deal with whatever Mother Nature throws at us.  I'm so glad to be skiing again I'll put up with a few sprinkles.

And besides, it's not every day you get to see a rainbow on the slopes.