Friday, January 31, 2014

Second Place, Baby!

Okay, I gotta brag......


This is the winning image.  As you may remember, I captured this waterfall last October at Silver Falls State Park. When I spied the sun shining through the trees above Lower South Falls, I knew it would make an amazing shot.

From over 400 entries, from all over the Portland Metropolitan area, this photo earned second place.  Although it would've been great to be the overall winner, I'm very happy with the outcome.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

MLK Weekend Fun

Now that my daughter Denise is done with school and working full-time, I don't see her very often.  Since she expressed interest in doing more snowboarding this winter, I invited her to come to the mountain with me over MLK weekend.  Happily, she accepted (I'm sure offering to buy her lift ticket helped!)

Another bluebird day!

Sunday of MLK weekend was another warm, sunny bluebird day.  Good views of Mt. Hood could be found almost anywhere on the slopes of Mt. Hood Meadows.

Kim and Denise are ready to go

My ski-buddy Kim came along, and the three of us headed for the lift to check out the snow.

Ski buddies on the lift

Although the inversion was still firmly in place, and the weather above freezing the past week, snow coverage wasn't too bad.  The grooming crew had done a fine job covering up hazards on most of the trails.

Chasing our shadow

An endless supply of solar energy meant many opportunities for shadow photos.  Gotta do something while riding a slow chairlift!

I catch a photo of my daughter in action

Since none of my friends snowboard, I don't know a lot about the sport.  Spending the day with my daughter opened my eyes to some of the challenges boarders face.

Kim taking a break against a lovely backdrop

Such as stopping and starting.  Every time we stopped, Denise would sit down in the snow.  With both feet strapped onto her board, she wasn't able to balance herself very well in a standing position, so it was easier to just sit down.  (Denise is still an intermediate, and I think more experienced boarders are able to do this).

A passing cloud hides Mt. Hood

I was using my telemark skis that day.  Making tele turns is quite a workout on my quads, so I take frequent breaks.  This was counterproductive for Denise - she'd just as soon slide all the way to the bottom without stopping.  A few times, when I stopped, Denise decided to keep on going to avoid having to get up and down so much.  No worries - we all met up in the lift line.

Practicing my tele turns (photo by Grant Myrdal Photography)

The other problems snowboarders face is propelling themselves through flat or uphill spots.  Since both feet are strapped to one board, it's very hard to move when you run out of momentum.  Skiers with both feet free, can skate, which works well to glide up hills and through flat areas.  But boarders either hop, or have to pop one foot out of their binding and push themselves along.  For that reason, we tried to avoid flat areas.

The mountain came out again

But there was one run off the Shooting Star lift that required riders traverse a short uphill segment.  Poor Denise!  The first attempt she ran out of speed, and ended up on her back.  The second, she made it up the slope - just barely!  The third was another undershot of the hill and a fall.

Denise gathers speed to make it up an incline

I have to say Denise was in good spirits through it all and never complained - even when she took a few bad tumbles.  I'm sure it's not easy being the lone snowboarder in a group of skiers (older skiers at that!) and having to put up with all our stops, starts, and uphill treks.

Mother and daughter on the slopes

I was impressed with Denise's snowboarding abilities.  She only took up the sport a couple of years ago, but kept up with me just fine.  I've heard snowboarding is easy to learn, and once you have the basics down, people's skills progress more rapidly than skiing.

It does look like fun.  I've seen boarders rip through deep powder or soft crud with no problems.  But I think it's way too late for me to take up yet another snow sport.  It took me long enough to learn how to ski!  And I don't think my knees or butt could take a bunch of falls while I'm learning.

Basking in the glorious sunshine

So I'll leave the snowboarding to Denise.  I had a great time watching her gracefully zip down the slopes.  By the end of the day, I had a new-found respect for snowboarders.

It was wonderful to spend the day with my daughter, sharing the sport that I love.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Welcome To Juneuary

What a difference one week makes!  On my first ski bus Thursday, we were skiing in a snowstorm and enjoying epic powder.  But the second week, summer decided to come early.

Linda, Judy and Chris ready to ski!

An inversion hit the Portland area.  While the city sat under a cold, gloomy fog, temps on the mountain were downright spring-like.

Checking out the bra tree

Another storm the weekend prior dumped an additional two feet of much-needed snow on Hood's slopes.  This gave Mt. Hood Meadows enough coverage to open almost all of their runs.  Then the sun came out and turned the white stuff into soft, wonderful corn.

Linda shows us how it's done

Seeing the forecast was for sunny skies, I decided to bring my "big girl" camera and capture some action photos.   I usually ski with a small pocket point-and-shoot camera.  Although this camera takes decent shots, the one thing it doesn't do is capture movement well. 

Glen makin' some turns

 And I don't want you readers to think all my friends and I do is stand around on the slopes!

Enjoying the views from Shooting Star Ridge

Ski buddies Linda, Judy, Chris, and Glen were willing subjects.  One by one, they swooshed by my lens as I fired off multiple frames.

 A little synchronized skiing

Then my friends got the idea to ski down in unison.  I managed to get a couple good shots of their "synchronized skiing" attempt.  (Hmmm....synchronized skiing......a new Olympic sport?)

Judy's having fun

After the group ski, I had each of my friends slide by a location with a killer view of the mountain.  I attempted to catch a photo of each one with a Mt. Hood backdrop.

Chris slides gracefully by

And of course I had to get some group shots too!

Okay everybody - skis up!

The weather was so warm, everyone was shedding layers and opening jacket pit zips.  It felt like spring skiing, not a day in mid-January.  Coming into the lodge for lunch, one of the ski keep workers commented  "Welcome to Juneuary."

Nice Hood views are everywhere

After lunch, we all decided to head to the highest point of the ski area, the Cascade Lift.  My friends hoped the higher elevation would mean cooler temps.

Checking out the vistas from top of Cascade

Although the air wasn't any colder up high, the views were totally worth it.  Mt. Jefferson dominated the southern sky, with the Three Sisters mountains directly east.  If one looked hard, Broken Top Mountain and Black Butte also made appearances.

Lovely scenery to ski in

A grand view to ski down with!

I got captured in action!

My friends felt bad that no one was getting any pictures of me skiing.  So Chris offered to take my camera and try her hand at a couple of shots.  She didn't do half-bad!  I liked this image in particular.  Now you know what I look like when I'm skiing.  The fanny pack around my waist is how I carry my camera on the slopes.

Mt. Hood close-up

Later that afternoon, I ran into my old friends Katie and Sue, aka the Tele Ladies.  Wanting to catch up, I joined them for a couple of runs. 

Katie droppin' the knee

And, of course, a few photos.

Sue is all smiles

I especially like this shot of Sue.  She has a great smile, and I'm glad I was able to capture this happy moment on the slopes.

The infamous "back of the bus" crew

Another great ski bus Thursday!  Although there was no fresh powder, the sunny skies, soft snow, and warm temps were almost as good.  And I got to ride home with these fun people - aka "the back of the bus gang."

What will next week bring?  Join me again for more skiing fun!

Sharing with:  Weekly Top Shot. and Our World Tuesday.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Snow - Finally!

Two weeks ago, our mountains finally got a break.  The weatherman forecasted SNOW for my beloved Mt. Hood.  And the largest accumulation (nine wonderful inches!!) was supposed to occur over Wednesday night.  Just in time for my first ski bus Thursday!

I was so giddy I couldn't stand it.

A wonderful sight

I'd been dying to use my brand-new Salomon Rockette (aka the "fat girls") powder skis.  Happily, I slid them into my ski bag in preparation for tomorrow's powder day.

Time to use my "fat girl" skis

The first day of ski bus session is always like homecoming.  I get to catch up with all my friends that I only see during ski season.  Our bus moms and regular driver were also back and it was great to reconnect.  Everything was perfect!  But pulling into Mt. Hood Meadows parking lot and seeing the swirling snowstorm made the day even better.

Linda and Chris say yahoo!

The slopes were blanketed with 10 glorious inches of fluffy white powder!  And the clouds were still dumping more.  There's nothing I like better than storm skiing.  I love it when it's snowing so hard your tracks are filled in behind you.  Fresh pow every run!

Showing off my wonderful new skis

I teamed up with my bus friend Linda, her buddy Chris, and my old friend and retired co-worker Glen.  A great group, we had shared lots of laughs, and had a blast bombing through the freshies.

Two Bowl is open for business!

My first run was pure heaven.  Those "fat girl" skis slid through the snow like a hot knife through butter.  My turns were nearly effortless.  I felt like I was flying.

Flying through the pow

My friends and I spent all morning taking runs off the Mt. Hood Express lift.  Due to the high winds, none of the upper lifts were running.  But there was more than enough variety down low to keep us busy.

There was still some bushes to dodge

Although the big dump of snow covered the bare slopes nicely, we still had to watch out for a few rocks and bushes sticking up.  Towards the bottom of one trail in particular, there were so many uncovered bushes, it became a vegetative slalom.

Beautiful chairlift ride

The chairlift rides to the top were like drifting through a winter wonderland.

Hello from the lift!

With friends by my side!

Winter wonderland

After a quick lunch, the group headed over to check out the Shooting Star Lift.  I've always liked the trails there, and usually the snow is a little bit better.  Today it didn't disappoint.

Glen is all smiles

By afternoon, another inch or two had accumulated.  The large crowds that had jammed morning lift lines had disappeared.  We practically had the place to ourselves.  All this wonderful snow ...... ours for the skiing!

"Let's go do that run again!"

I had the most wonderful time zipping through slopes of thick, velvety-soft snow .  Again, the "fat girls" performed superbly.  I floated through the deep stuff with hardly any effort.  Turns came so easy, while my companions were complaining of burning quads, I was feeling no pain.  About 2:30, everyone decided to call it a day.  But not me!  I was ready for more.

Hooray for snow!

I stayed out until it was nearly time to board the bus.  Conditions were so amazing, I didn't want to quit.  After such a dismal start to the season, this big powder dump restored my skiing mojo.  A happy reminder of why I love this sport so much.

Thank you snow gods.  Best.Day.Ever!

Sharing with:  Our World Tuesday.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Chubby Chipmunks

Warning *****  This post is rated EC for Extreme Cuteness!

We interrupt the endless blog posts bemoaning the PNW's lack of snow to bring you this......

All together now - Awwwwww......

Blog friend eileeninmd has a new meme - Saturday's Critters.  Bloggers are encouraged to share their animal photos, from pets to creatures in the wild.  What a great idea!  Who doesn't like to look at a group of cute animal images?  However, my blog posts and photographs rarely include critters (my dog Bear is usually the lone four-legged photo subject).

Little furry friend

I really wanted to participate in Eileen's meme, so I searched my archives and found these chipmunk photos from an August 2012 camping trip to Olallie Lake.  After setting up our campsite, and settling down in chairs around the fire, my husband and I discovered we had company.

Storing those nuts

A half dozen little chipmunks were skittering underfoot, begging for our potato chips.  My hubby happened to have a bag of old, stale peanuts, and he threw a handful on the ground. 

What happened next was more entertaining than any tv show.  Those chipmunks went after the loot with gusto.  We had lots of laughs watching the little guys stuff nut after nut into mouths, until their cheeks were bulging.

Hungry Gray Jay

I got out my camera, and had a blast capturing the chipmunk's antics.  Word got out to the bird community, and a couple of aggressive Gray Jays joined in the feast.


This little guy was my favorite subject.  He stood up and struck a pose, his cheeks stretched to the max with stored peanuts.  And in this shot, I caught him with his tiny pink mouth wide open.

So if you're interested in checking out more cute critter pics, head on over to this newest meme - Saturday's Critters.

Now back to my regularly scheduled skiing posts......

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Snowless in Hoodville

My buddy Kim and I decided to head up to our local ski hill and check out the current conditions.  We thought surely the low snowpack couldn't be that bad, could it? 

Oh, yes it could....

No skiing on Stadium....sadness

This was the scene the morning of January 5th at Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort.  It's winter now!  Where is our snow??

Two ski buddies, ready for action!

Hey, you snow gods, look at these faces!  Is this any way to treat two ladies who love skiing?

Stump dodging

After a month with no precip, the slopes were looking mighty bare.  What little snow that was left clung to the surface in hard, icy sheets.  Stumps, rocks and bushes stuck out everywhere.  I didn't realize there were so many  hazards under the snow.  By January, these slopes are normally covered under several feet of the white stuff.

Don't ski under this lift

Riding the main chairlift was especially heartbreaking.  So much bare ground underneath the lift towers!  You could even see last summer's beargrass stems.  Many of my favorite runs were not skiable (unless you wanted to put huge scratches on your ski bases).

Some trails had enough snow

I have to give big kudos to the Meadows grooming staff.  They did a great job with what little snow there was.  I heard snow was trucked from the parking lot and spread over many of the trails.  Kim and I were able to ski quite a few runs, and all were adequately covered.

Hood is looking mighty bare

Although the trails started out nice and groomed in the morning, it didn't take long for the fluff to be skied off, exposing the hard ice underneath.  Skiing on ice is never fun.

Too many of these signs

With many ski trails having minimal coverage, these lovely orange "caution" signs were everywhere.

Watch out for rocks!

Even on runs that appeared to have adequate snow, you had to be vigilant.  Every one and awhile a rock would appear out of nowhere.

Overworked snowmaking machine

With our rainy climate, the Pacific NW usually receives abundant snowfall.  Snowmaking is almost unheard of.  Meadows only owns two snowmaking guns, and this is the first time in many years I've seen them in use.

Pray for snow!

I know you readers are getting sick of me complaining about the lack of snow.  But to us PNW skiers, it's a real hardship.  Not only does it affect outdoor recreation, the mountain snowpack is our water supply in summer months.  We really, really, really need some precip.  Join my buddy Kim and I and help us PRAY FOR SNOW!

Sharing with:  Weekly Top Shot.