Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Sunshine in Heather Canyon

It's been a great ski season.  The snow gods have been generous to Mt. Hood this year, blessing the mountain with an abundance of white stuff.  I've had some great stormy days skiing endless powder, but I've also encountered a few absolutely lovely sunny days.

Reflections in Pat's goggles

One was a memorable Thursday in late February.  Unseasonably warm temps were predicted.  Although it's nice not to deal with the cold, too much solar energy will turn a ski area's snowpack into a sticky mess the consistency of mashed potatoes.  Not fun to ski through!

Glen and Pat - my men in red

I teamed up with my "men in red" ski buddies, Glen and Pat.  Trying to get as many runs in as possible before the snow turned to slop, we agreed to ski hard all morning.  On warmer days, we'll normally start at the lower elevation runs, and work our way higher as the temperatures rise.  But the mountain was experiencing an inversion that day, and it was actually warmer on top of the highest lift.

Pat flies down the slope

So we started our day with a few laps off the Cascade Lift, which is the highest chair at Mt. Hood Meadows.  My friends and I didn't mind in the least - the views up here are always tremendous.

Silver Bowl

Some of the trails off the Cascade Lift lead into Heather Canyon - the expert area of our local ski resort.  The initial drop into the canyon is down some extremely steep double black diamond trails, where the snow is often wind-packed and icy.  Unless the conditions are incredibly good, I don't usually venture into Heather.

Pat contemplates his line

But the day's bountiful solar energy had cooked the snow into a soft, slippery surface.  Up on the Cascade trails, it was easy skiing.  Then we noticed lots of people heading into Heather Canyon.  Usually an indicator of good conditions, my friends and I decided to check it out.

Looking down into the canyon

The boys and I followed some skiers to the top of Silver Bowl.  Standing on the canyon's rim we gazed down into its white expanse.  I tentatively poked the adjacent snow with my pole, trying to determine if it's surface was hard and icy, or soft and skiable.

Pat drops in

Only one way to find out!  Taking a deep breath, I launched myself over the lip of Silver Bowl's snowy cornice.  Skidding past the first few feet, my skis connected with a patch of dreamy soft snow.  My edges glided through it like butter.  I gave my companions a "thumbs up."

Glen flies by

Glen and Pat dove over the canyon's lip and rocketed down Silver Bowl's steep sides.  We carved smooth, graceful turns through some marvelously creamy snow.  Reaching the bottom, it was unanimous that another run was in order.

But first a quick breather to admire the bright winter's sunshine.

Admiring the sun

My buddies and I ended up making three more runs into Heather Canyon that day.  The conditions were so wonderful, we skied well past our lunch hour.  Finally around 2:30, the temperatures rose high enough that the snow began to get sticky, grabbing at our ski bases.   Time to call it a day!

Proof I was there too

My friends and I agreed it had been a banner day.  Sunshine, soft snow, and multiple trips into wild and wonderful Heather Canyon.  Although stormy powder days will always hold the top spot of my favorite ski conditions, sunny warm days are the next best thing.


  1. Que maravilha estes passeios nas montanhas com neve.
    Um abraço e boa Quarta-feira.

  2. Hello, so glad you were able to get in some more skiing. The scenery is gorgeous, I just love those mountains views. Awesome photos. Enjoy your day and the week ahead!

  3. Lovely, but I'm glad spring is here.

  4. Great shots. I love enjoying other people having fun in the snow.....but as for me, I like to view the white stuff from a distance on the mountain tops!

  5. What an awesome day - I love bowl skiing.

  6. I'm glad it's warming up but I kind of miss snowboarding.

  7. Great photos! You should get a red jacket too! :)

  8. Wow, looks like such a fun day! I tried learning to ski as an adult, but didn't take to it. Wish I'd learned when I was a kid!

  9. Amazing snow scenes and I love that first reflection shot

  10. I miss the snow! We our having a very warm autumn - it will be interesting to see if we get much snow on the mountains this year - snow in Australia is a bit hit and miss.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  11. Hi Linda. Long time since I've read or looked at blogs. Your photos make me kind of want to ski. Next season I think we will make a season out of it with our kids...something I feel we should at least all be somewhat good at since we live in a ski area. This year we decided to go to Thailand, next year....season passes and lessons for the kids! Hope you are well!

  12. Looks a wonderful area. I only ski downhill at a basic level due to limited outings these days but I know the feeling of going down a great exciting gully with trepidation, not knowing what it will be like, then the adrenalin rush when you find out its perfect.

  13. hmmmm looks pretty scary to me.

  14. Looks like the perfect day to enjoy skiing. So happy you've had good skiing this year.

  15. I'm glad you got in some more skiing on Mt. Hood, Linda. You always manage to get such great shots of while skiing! The highest ski are near me is Arapaho Basin and it is still getting lots of powder, much to the delight of local skiers.

  16. Awesome skiing in the sunshine, missing the snow already!


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