Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Ski Bus Daze

One of the best things about winter is the return of my midweek ski bus.  In the months of January and February I play hooky from work every Thursday and join my friends for a day of fun and revelry on our local ski hill.

The gang's all  here!

Sadly, due to declining ridership, this year my bus only got scheduled for 6 weeks instead of 8.  Work and other commitments took up two of those remaining 6 days.  BUT....I had four great Thursdays to ski, and ski I did!

Men in red - almost!

For several years now I've skied with my "men in red" buddies from the Vancouver bus.  However, this year the tradition was broken when Brian showed up with a new jacket, and it wasn't red.  (Oh no!  How was I gonna locate my friends on the slopes now??)  I gave Brian a hard time for not clearing his outwear purchase with me first.

"There's the mountain!"

Ski bus day one we arrived to wonderful, snowy slopes.  Although skies began overcast, by afternoon Mt Hood decided to emerge from the clouds and show off her latest coat of white.

Hood looking quite lovely

I never tire of this mountain view.

Sunshine and fog

Although the afternoon was getting late, we all agreed to try one final run from the Vista chair.  We
hadn't skied there all day, and wanted to at least check it out once (our group's motto:  "How bad could it be?")

Clear skies on Vista

We arrived to crystal clear skies and phenomenal mountain views.  Wow!  No one wanted to quit.

Icy trees

But...our buses were waiting.  So my friends and I made one final long slow run to the lodge, savoring every minute.  A great way to end the first day!

Smiles on top of Stadium

Week two, another beautiful blue-sky day.  My buddies and I noticed that the Stadium run was nicely groomed.  Usually this trail is closed for ski racing, especially on weekends.  But today it was wide open.  Of course we had to take advantage of the perfect corduroy!


And, oh my was it ever nice!  My friends and I must've made at least a half dozen runs.

Soaking in the sun

Remembering the last week's fantastic views, it was agreed we had to return to the trails off  Vista chair.

Glen rates the day

Nothing had changed, and that was A-ok.

"Where to?"

Vista being one of the resort's higher chairlifts, boasted some of the best views.  I couldn't pass up the photo ops.

Glen skiing by Hood

Since I'm usually too busy skiing, most of my photos are of my friends standing around.  So today I resolved to grab a few images of my buddies in motion.  Gotta prove that, yes, we actually do ski!

There goes Brian!

My little pocket point-and-shoot camera isn't very fast on the shutter, but I did manage to get an action photo of Brian that I really liked.

Avalanche doggie

I even captured a ski patroller coming down the hill with one of the resort's avalanche dogs.

Not sure what the "Vista Experience" is supposed to be

Glen noticed all of the trail signs up here had a yellow "Vista Experience" tag on the bottom.  None of us had a clue what that was supposed to mean.  Made for some funny conversations, though!

Goofy good times!

Sadly, ski bus season goes way too fast, and it's already come and gone.  But I've got a bunch of photos and lots of good memories from sunny days on the snow with my friends. 

Hey, guys it was a lot of fun - let's do it again next year!  (And Brian, get yourself a new red coat!)

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Twin Lakes Showshoe

So I've got a new goal.  After seeing multiple posts about a "52 Hike Challenge" on various social media sites, I googled it and found a website dedicated to getting folks outdoors.  Participants committed to completing 52 hikes in a year's time frame. order to join, it appeared one needed to first lay out some cash.  Being the cheapskate that I am (why pay money for something I already do on a regular basis?), I decided to create my very own challenge for 2019.

Faded fancy trail sign

So on January 1st, 2019, Linda's "52 Hike Challenge" began.  The rules for my homemade "52 Hike Challenge" were simple:

1.  The hike had to be one mile minimum in length.
2.  The hike had to take place outdoors in a "woodsy" or "natural" area.
3.  Walking, backcountry skiing, or snowshoeing all counted.
4.  Photos or it didn't happen!

Snowy woods

Realizing that completing 52 hikes in a year's time meant that I needed to average one hike per week, I began plotting how to get the miles in.  No problem in spring/summer/fall months, but winter..... Then I decided to dust off my snowshoes.  Instead of hitting the ski resorts (which on Mt Hood are becoming extremely crowded most winter weekends) I'd explore some of my favorite trails in the off-season.

Mossy trees and trail sign

Which is why instead of visiting the ski slopes, I spent the first Saturday of January tromping around a snowy Mt Hood National Forest with my hubby.

Hubby by a PCT trail marker

My first hike of 2019 was a partial repeat of a trail I'd explored last June, the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) from Barlow Pass to Upper Twin Lake.  I'd seen a lot of recent snowshoeing trip reports from this area and decided to check things out for myself.

The snow's a wee bit deep!

I talked my hubby into joining me for this winter adventure.  Although we both own snowshoes, it had been a couple of years since our last outing.  So, upon arriving at the trailhead, it took a bit of time to get our gear together and remember how to strap snowshoes to our boots.  But we both eventually figured things out, and happily strode away from a huge faded trail sign marking the PCT access.

Upper Twin Lake and the tip of Mt Hood

It had been several days since the last snowfall, so the trail was a packed-down sheet of frozen snow and ice.  Although we could've navigated in just boots, the metal claws beneath our snowshoes provided welcome traction.

Frolicking on the lake

Despite the lack of new snow, the wintry forest was beautiful.  We laughed at a few trail signs, nearly buried in the deep snowpack.

Warming up some ramen noodle soup

After about three miles, we spotted an opening through the forest.  Sure enough, it was Upper Twin Lake.  Navigating the tromped-down path circling it's shoreline, I spotted Mt Hood's white tip peeping over the treetops.  Then I ventured a short distance onto the snowy lake's surface for a few "I was there" pics.  And no, I wasn't worried about falling through the ice (I followed a previous set of tracks, and didn't dare go beyond them!)

We capture the bird's attention

My hubby lugged our tiny backpacking stove to the lake, and got busy heating water for some ramen noodle soup.  While waiting for it to boil, we snacked on cheese and crackers and warmed our insides with thermoses of hot tea.

Super friendly Gray Jays

Then our woodsy picnic began to attract a few locals.

Begging birdie

A flock of gray jays had gathered in the trees above, eyeing our food.  Apparently very used to humans, when my hubby put a few crushed-up cracker crumbs on his palm, it didn't take long for then to take notice.  Several birds landed right on his hand, and weren't in the least bit shy about grabbing a snack.

We had fun luring the birds

It was the highlight of our day!  Hubby and I had a great time enticing the birds to land in our hands.  Oh, the photo ops!  (Too bad I didn't bring my zoom lens)

Watching us from the tree

Although our original plan was to hit both Upper and Lower Twin Lake in a wide loop, my hubby's boot insoles started causing him foot pain.  Wisely, we decided to turn around and retrace our steps back to Barlow Pass.  (Tip - When trying a new activity, expect gear issues, and be flexible when they happen)

We made lots of feathered friends!

Back through the beautiful winter forest we trudged.  Although I grabbed a few photos of the snow-coated tree branches, our return trek was mostly focused on getting my hubby back in one piece.  Once at the car, I've never seen someone so happy to remove his boots!  (Time to purchase new insoles)

Snow-covered trees

Despite minor gear issues, hubby and I survived our first snowshoe trip in good spirits.  I discovered snowshoeing uses different muscles than hiking or skiing as the next morning I was quite sore in new places!  But it was fun to try a different winter activity - hubby agreed there would be more snowshoe trips in our future.

First hike of 2019 was a rousing success!

Stats for my first hike of 2019 - 7.5 total miles and probably 700 feet elevation gain. 

One down, 51 to go!

(You may have noticed a new tab below my blog's banner photo.  I've created a "52 Hike Challenge - 2019" page to record each hike towards my goal.  So far I've been good about documenting each hike as it happens.  Since I'm always behind on posting, you can follow along here to see what I've been up to - and read a full recap in a month or so!) 

Monday, February 11, 2019

Ice Storm Beauty

As per tradition, I like to begin New Year's Day with a trip to the mountain.  This year was no exception.  Accompanied by my best ski buddy Kim, we arose early on the first day of 2019 and traveled to Mt Hood for some snowy turns.

Mountain views from the slopes

Clear skies greeted our arrival.  Nearby Mt Jefferson was visible from the slopes, as well as the Three Sisters. 

Gettin' better at selfies!

I even managed to capture one successful selfie - I'm gettin' better at this!  (Kim knows how to pose too!)

Icicles hanging off trail sign

Mt Hood had been hit with an ice storm two days prior.  Although the slopes had been groomed, evidence of the freezing precip was everywhere.  Trailsigns were encased in a glittering shell, icicles dangling off their edges.

Mother Nature's artwork

We skied by a huge glade of trees all encrusted in ice.  It was so stunning I just had to stop for an extended photo break.

Grove of icy trees

It was as if someone had sprayed a firehose on the trees, and they instantly froze.

Backlit icicles

Icicles dangled from high branches.  Backlit by the sun, they glittered like diamonds (sorry, my photos just don't capture how breathtaking it really was).

Branches coated with ice

I wasn't the only person who'd stopped.  Many other skiers had cell phones out, collecting photos of their own.

Mt Hood framed by trees

I just love clear, sunny days on the mountain.  Mt Hood is so beautiful coated in winter white!

This tree was totally coated

One lone tree was entirely coated in a thick, icy shell.  Huge icicles dangled off its branches.  So unusual and lovely!

Happy skier

It was a day of great weather, soft snow, many turns, and big smiles.  Plus the bonus of seeing Mother Nature's incredible artwork in the form of an ice storm aftermath.  Not a bad way to start the new year!

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

If You Take a Photographer Snowshoeing....

If you take a photographer friend snowshoeing.....they just might want to capture sunrise on Mt Hood.  Meaning you'll probably rise at some ungodly early hour and end up shivering in predawn light, patiently waiting for the sun to show itself.

Mt Hood before sunrise

You'll likely gape in wonder watching the sky turn soft shades of pink.

The sky begins to turn pink...

And push the shutter like a woman possessed when light finally touches the very top of the mountain.

First light on the mountain

And you might even be too busy photographing Hood to look at the sky behind you.  Until a chance glimpse that direction makes you realize what you're missing.

The sky behind us

You might even be tempted to zoom way in on your favorite mountain - and capture some fantastic morning light on Hood's creamy white snowfields.

Golden hues light the snow

Once the sunrise show is over, your photographer friend might suggest snowshoeing two miles in to nearby Trillium Lake.  Because it's a bluebird day and there's a killer view of Mt Hood from there.

Light through the trees looks like stained glass

From the trailhead you and your photographer friend won't get far before you're blown away by the fantastic light creating patterns in the forest.  Much clicking of cameras will commence.


If you take your photographer friend snowshoeing.......due to numerous photo breaks, it might take twice as long to reach your destination .

Tiny moon in blue sky

But neither of you will mind in the least.  Because she's your photographer friend, she'll understand completely.

Say cheese!

You might even get some really good images of yourself (normally being the one behind the camera, that never happens).

Mt Hood from Trillium Lake

Upon finally reaching Trillium Lake, you and your photographer friend will probably ooh and aah over the stunning Mt Hood views.

Snowy lakeshore scenes

Then you'll both get busy trying to capture countless images of the sparkly, new-fallen snow coating everything.

Flocked tree

Snow-covered branches

So many photo subjects!

No picnics today

Snowy lake

The snow seemed to sparkle

Frosty trees

After a good hour of camera-clicking fun, you and your friend will finally decide it's time to trek back to the car.

The return trail

Of course, the return trip is just as magical.

Lots of hikers at midday

By now the rest of the world has arrived on the mountain, and you encounter several groups of skiers and snowshoers heading to the lake.  But being early birds has it's advantages - you and your friend had the lake all to yourselves nearly the entire time.

The final climb

The last half mile requires a grueling climb up a fairly steep hill.  But if you take your photographer friend snowshoeing, she rises to the challenge.

Trail for another day?

She might even point out trails for future outings.

A happy snowshoer

If you take a photographer friend snowshoeing on a magical blue-sky winter's just might have yourself a new adventure buddy!

(A great way to spend the final day of 2018 - thanks Cheri for being my photo buddy!)