Thursday, April 4, 2013

Rainy day at T-Line

Well, the day started out sunny.  For a whole 10 minutes.

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

Evidence of early sunshine

Wanting to get back on the wagon after my scary backcountry skiing fall, I convinced friends John and Young to join me for a quick trip up the side of Mt. Hood.  I hoped this non-threatening destination - the cat track paralleling the Magic Mile and Palmer Lifts at Timberline ski area - would restore my confidence.  Although a fairly steep slog, close proximity to the resort made this a safe "backcountry" tour.

Young and John sloggin' up the slope

Gearing up in the parking lot, we were treated to a sunny view of Mt. Hood's lower portions.  But the entire top of the mountain was cloaked in thick clouds.  That should've been our first clue.

Surrounded by a sea of white (photo by Young)

No matter, my companions and I were happy to be doing some climbing on this fine day.  As Young and I began our journey, we both laughed at our fascination with skiing UP mountains.  As Young put it: "all our friends think we're crazy!"

Hooray!  Almost to the top of the Mile!

Although a tiring slog, skiing uphill is a great cardio workout.  Plus, there's always fantastic scenery to take in on the way up.  Way better than a treadmill.

The temperatures were mild that day, and I thought we'd be shedding layers quickly.  However, cresting the first rise, my party was greeted by a strong blast of wind.  Instantly chilled, instead of taking off layers, the jacket hood got pulled over my head in an attempt to stay warm.

Above the Mile, our world turned white

We quickly climbed 1000 feet to the top of the Magic Mile lift.  Although a worthy goal, John wanted to continue another 1800 feet up to the top of the Palmer lift.  But the clouds that had enveloped Hood's summit when we started out had now descended to below the lift's midway point.  I doubted there'd be any visibility in that fog bank.

John is ready to go up again

As suspected, we didn't travel very far before the entire world turned white.  A cloudy mist cloaked everything.  Not being able to see, John made the decision to head back down.

An ever enthusiastic Young

We spent nearly two hours climbing to our turnaround point.  It took all of fifteen minutes to ski back down.  Although a little shaky starting out, I got in a groove, and made some excellent tele turns - with no falls.  It felt good to swoosh down the slopes with confidence!

Nearing noon when we reached bottom, John spotted a perfect lunch spot in a small grove of trees.  Famished, my friends and I took shelter amongst their branches, and inhaled our food.

Getting passed by the snowcat

The day still young, my friends and I contemplated a return trip up the mountain.  (It was too early to hit the bar, after all.)  Although the weather seemed to be worsening, John figured we could at least reach the top of the Mile.  So the climbing skins went back on our skis, and we hit the cat track for another try.

Mist begins to drench us

The wind had definitely picked up.  And the clouds were much lower than before.  It wasn't long before I noticed my gloves were getting wet.  And my coat....the top of Young's helmet...all were collecting water droplets.  Ugh!  The clouds were soggy masses of light mist.  And they were leaving their precip on us.

John had high hopes of trying to reach the top of Palmer the second time around.  But we barely got to the Magic Mile's unloading station before deciding to bail.  The wind was howling, and the light mist turning into fat raindrops.

Water droplets collect on Young's helmet

Tearing off our skins in the wind and driving rain was no fun.  And the ski down was miserable.  The windy wet weather required many stops to wipe moisture off our goggles.  Our gloves and outer layers became completely soaked.  I was never so happy to reach John's truck and peel off my wet gear.

But all was forgotten once I reached the bar and had a frosty beer in my hands.  The wet misery was replaced by a glowing feeling of accomplishment.  I'd survived a ski tour without any mishaps.  If nothing else, this quick, rainy trip restored my backcountry skiing mojo.


  1. love the yellow snowcat - even when I'm soo fed up with winter!

  2. You must be in fabulous shape...I would have died one minute into the uphill climb:)
    Have a good weekend.
    Blessings, Aimee

  3. I have to admit, skiing uphill does sound crazy to me! Haha. But I bet it is an amazing workout. You must be in great shape with all the skiing you do :)

  4. That looks like a good work out. How hard is it to ski with that big backpack on your back?

  5. I have never skied in the rain, but it sounds like a good day despite that. Beautiful photos.

  6. Linda, so glad you stopped by. Your blog looks like an awesome adventure with great photo shoots I definitely will be following along to see more !


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