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.


  1. Oh wow, loved this post and the pics especially the rainbow! Skiing is something I've never done, but certainly have admiration for those who do.

  2. I bet it felt great to get out there skiing again. The skiing looks so awesome out by you. Maybe one of these days I'll get out there.... Hmmm.... hiking or skiing?? Tough choice.

  3. Nice series of pics- especially with the fog and clouds- looks like a beautiful spot

  4. What a great day and wonderful photos. I haven't skied in a few years but I want to start again this year or next.l

  5. Now that is awesome What a perfect day. Not a skier myself but tried snow shoeing this weekend and loved it


Don't be shy! Please leave a comment.