Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Fun on the Slopes

After three years of not-so-great snowpacks, winter 2016-17 is shaping up to be a banner season for us Pacific NW skiers.

Me and the girls ready to ski!  (photo by Young)

My girlfriends and I started our ski year with a early December trip to sample the goods at Mt Bachelor. 

Chairlift selfie

The day started out cloudy, but soon snow started in earnest.  Visibility dropped, but the new-fallen snow was so light and plentiful, I didn't really care.

My brother joined us for the fun

My brother joined us girls for some rippin' down the slopes!

Big flakes started falling (photo by Young)

 We had a most excellent day whooshing through the fresh pow.

Ski pole joust! 

And.....maybe a tiny bit of horseplay too!

Happiness is powder snow

 The next day, we arrived to a huge snowstorm.  Strong winds whipped the flakes into a frenzy.

Ice crusted sign

 Trees and trail signs were covered in an icy shell.

Lovely flocked trees

I tried to ski as long as possible, but high winds and poor visibility forced us into the lodge before noon.   Oh well.....there was lots more of the season to come.

Icy tree trunk

New Year's Day found me and my buddies Kim and Hollie up at Mt Hood Meadows.  I love skiing the early morning hours of this holiday - slopes are empty (everyone's still  home sleeping off the previous night's revelery)

Snowy New Year's Day

Snow was falling heavily, with a good six inches of powder.  It was such a great day, I only took a few photos - too busy skiing!

Perfect blue skies!

But just a couple days before New Year's the weather was completely different.  Sunny blue skies ruled.

Chairlift buddies

 Although stormy, powder days are my first love, sunshine on the slopes is the next best thing!

Dramatic clouds at the top of Cascade

 You get to enjoy fantastic views like these from the very highest lift at Meadows.

Sunburst on Cascade Lift

And if you're lucky you might even capture a sunburst or two.

Amazing views from Mt Hood Meadows

I love my home mountain.....one never tires of the panoramic scenery from the slopes of Mt Hood.

Mt Hood selfie

So that's just a sampling from the first few ski outings of winter 2017.  The abundance of white stuff has certainly put a smile on this ski fanatic's face.  Here's to more fun on the slopes!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Frozen Waterfalls, Round Two

The rough winter weather of December continued into early January.  When my first Thursday ski bus got cancelled due to high winds at the resort, I had to come up with an alternative plan (it was either that or go to work, and who wants to do that?)

Latourell Falls

Luckily, the ferocious winds and cold temps were good for something - making all the waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge freeze.  Since this phenomenon happens so seldom, I decided to take full photographic advantage of it.

Frozen branches

I decided to hit up a couple waterfalls I'd missed in my early December waterfall photo jaunt.  First on the list - the lovely Latourell Falls.

Icy wonderland

Luckily, Latourell Falls is right off the Historic Columbia River Highway.  A short walk takes visitors to it's very base.  And today it was an extremely icy base.

Microspikes are necessary equipment

Everything near the waterfall's splash pool was coated in a thick layer of ice, making walking super treacherous.  Years ago I invested in a set of microspikes.  These "shoe chains" gave wonderful traction, enabling me to get close to my photo subject.

Interesting ice formations

Waterfalls often create their own weather, and the temperature dropped considerably as I set up near Latourell Fall's base.  Fumbling with frozen fingers, I attempted to fire off several shots of the glittering ice sculptures.  But spray from the cascade started collecting on my camera and tripod, icing up everything.  Plus I got cold real fast.  After 10 minutes, I cried "uncle" and beat a hasty retreat to the car.

Icy creek below Latourell Falls

After blasting the heater for a good five minutes, I decided to make another attempt.  Again, freezing water droplets collected on my lens.  Although I tried desperately to keep my camera gear dry, it didn't take long before icy gear forced me back to the car once again.

Icicles on the top

On final attempt - this time I positioned myself a little bit farther from the spray zone.  This time I was able to get some good images.

Rounded ice formations

One of the fascinating things about this waterfall was all the interesting ice shapes formed by the freezing water at it's base.  Some of the formations looked like little rounded balls of ice. 

Mother Nature's sculptures

All three times I set up at Latourell Falls, many groups of people wandered in, took a few photos, and quickly left.  A few photographers lingered for 5-10 minutes, but nobody stayed very long.  Not only were conditions dangerously slippery (and very few folks had traction devices) but the air was bitterly cold.

Water tank at Elowah Falls trailhead

After spending way too much time at Latourell Falls, it was nearing noon and I knew I had to move on.  So heading further down the road, I set my sights on another favorite cascade, gorgeous Elowah Falls.

Beautiful icicles

Although this waterfall was my goal, an old water tank at the trailhead caught my attention and became a wonderful subject.

Leaking water made lovely frozen creations

Water draining from this tank  had trickled over the adjacent forest floor, freezing into all kinds of interesting shapes.

Frozen branches

Yeah, I spent way too much time trying to photograph it all!  But do you blame me?

Elowah Falls

Finally I tore myself away, and headed down the 3/4 mile trail to Elowah Falls.  This tall beauty drops from a high basalt cliff.  The splash pool is located in an impressive rocky bowl.  I've visited this waterfall in the winter before, and during periods of freezing weather a large cone of ice always forms at it's base.

Ice cone at Elowah Falls base (in black and white)

The ice cone was quite a sight!  I wish there would've been some people nearby to add scale to my photos.  It was definitely as tall as an average person - if not a bit higher.  I converted this photo of Elowah Fall's cone into black and white and kind of like it.

Elowah Falls and the bridge

As with the previous waterfall, the base around Elowah was just as icy.  But luckily, the wind didn't seem to be blowing as much, and my camera stayed drier.

These ice formations look like melting wax

Of course there were just as many unique ice formations around Elowah Falls.  I particularly liked the above drippy shapes near the canyon's west wall.  They kind of looked like melting candle wax.

Frozen creek

And the stream below Elowah Falls looked especially beautiful with icy white rings around each rock.

Final look at Elowah

Tired feet and cold hands finally forced me to retreat back to my car.  But not before I grabbed one final photo of Elowah Falls peeking through the trees.

Icicles along the trail

So much beauty!  It's been a crazy winter weather-wise, but I can put up with the cold when it produces these breathtaking works of art.

Friday, January 20, 2017

More From Central Oregon

While visiting Central Oregon for Christmas, I was lucky enough to witness lots of photo-worthy scenes (in this part of the world, it isn't difficult).  Although tons of photos were amassed, I didn't feel there was enough of one subject to constitute an entire blog post.  Sooo......instead I've decided to create a hodge-podge featuring my fave random images from the holiday weekend. 


Three Sisters at sunrise

The house my daughter and her boyfriend are renting has killer views of the Cascade peaks.  One morning, my hubby and I happened to be awake in time to watch sunrise turn the snow-capped Three Sisters mountains pink.

View towards Smith Rock State Park

There's also a wonderful view of the snowy peaks near Smith Rock State Park from her front door.

Frosty branches

My brother's house has a stand of gorgeous aspen trees in his front yard.  The day we arrived, bright sunlight was illuminating their frozen branches.

Blue sky and aspens

There's nothing that says winter like snowy white aspens against the blue sky!

Colorful ornaments

My sister-in-law loves to decorate for the holidays.  She hung a bunch of colorful ornaments on a nearby tree, and recent snowfall left them all with snowy, white hats. 

Snow-topped ornament

What great photo subjects, don't you think?

Great holiday decor!

I especially liked this large blue and gold striped ornament. 

Snow-flocked bush

I had a bit of cabin fever, so decided to grab my camera and take a walk through my brother's snowy neighborhood.  A harsh winter thus far, there was about three feet of snow piled up on the ground.  But it sure made for some great flocking on this nearby bush.

Snowy weeds

It even made these dry, brown weeds look lovely.  Snow crystals seemed to glitter in the bright sunlight.

The locals having lunch

In my brother's neighborhood, one thing that's not in short supply is the wildlife.  Large numbers of hungry deer prowl front yards in search of food.

The deer make themselves at home

And they're not very afraid of humans.  Or their cars.

Bright red berries

I loved these snow-covered red berries in someone's yard.  Very festive!

More snowy berries

Although not as vivid, I thought these berries were pretty too.

My brother's front yard had lots of snow!

I like this view of my brother's front yard, surrounded by tall, white aspens (and plenty of snow!)

Hungry buck

Later that afternoon, it was wildlife watching at it's finest, as a herd of deer ambled through the front yard.  They were right outside my brother's bedroom window - I didn't even have to leave the house!

Raiding the bird feeder

The deer were attracted to some spilled grain from a bird feeder.

Doe and fawn

My favorite was a fluffy little fawn, following his mother.

The fluffy little fawn was adorable!

Although the winter months can be tough on wildlife, these deer looked well fed.  Between raiding bird feeders and soft-hearted people leaving out food, they seemed to be doing just fine.

Too cute!

Although I'm not in favor of feeding wildlife, it was fun to watch these beautiful creatures from the comfort of a warm house.