Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Early Snow

In most years, snow is slow to carpet nearby Mt Hood and it's surrounding foothills.  We're lucky if the ski resorts open by Thanksgiving - and if they do, it's with a measly 2 foot base (get out your "rock skis!")  But, 2020 continues to be unlike any year, and in Mt Hood's case, this has actually been a good thing.  In early November, storm after storm brought inches of the white stuff to Oregon's Cascade mountains.  By mid-November nearly three feet of snow was covering the lower reaches of Hood.

Time for an early-season Trillium Lake snowshoe hike to check things out.  So the Friday before Thanksgiving I decided to break in my car's new snow tires and head to the mountain.

Trillium Lake's fantastic Mt Hood view

Although the Mirror Lake Trailhead was packed with vehicles, just down the road Trillium Lake's sno-park had only three it's lot.  As I was changing boots and trying to decide if I needed my snowshoes, another car pulled in.  The woman driving rolled down her window and asked if this was the trail "to the lake." She also gave herself away as a tourist when she asked where Mt Hood was.  Pointing to the parking lot's prominent summit view I commented "You aren't from around here are you?"


Ice just beginning to form

As suspected, the woman admitted she was visiting from New York.  I told her Trillium Lake was only a mile and a half down the closed road, and it appeared the snow was packed enough that snowshoes weren't necessary.  She thanked me for the info, and with that I shouldered my backpack and camera bag and headed down the road.  I hadn't traveled far when a grove of frosty bushes provided my first photo stop.  I was delayed long enough that the New York lady caught up.  We started talking and ended up hiking together all the way to the lake.

Selfie time!

Since most of my hikes this year have been solo, it was nice to have company.  I chatted with the woman (6 feet apart of course!) and provided suggestions of other places to see during her stay.  The woman asked me to snap a few phone pics of her against the scenery.  Finally reaching the lake, with it's stellar Mt Hood view, my companion gasped in awe and handed me her phone again for a few Instagram-worthy shots.

More mountain views

With that, I parted ways with my new friend.  Having more places to visit, she retracted her steps back to the parking area, while I lingered around the lakeshore.  The weather was perfect - clear, blue skies and moderate temperatures.  Slogging through churned-up snow along the bank, I came to a sunny spot near the dam with killer Hood views.  Good place for a snack break!

Much too friendly gray jay eyeing my snacks

Sitting in the snow, munching on an energy bar and drinking tea, it didn't take long for the local gray jay population to take notice.  Several birds perched on nearby branches, eyeing my snacks.  I wasn't in the sharing mood so the birds were out of luck.  I did however manage to snap a few images of these cute feathered friends.



By this time it was late morning, and the recreational crowds began arriving.  A few groups of cross country skiers shuffled by, followed by another snowshoer.  I plowed through the snow on foot - it was surprisingly deep - to another vantage point across the earthen dam.  The sun's rays created lovely bursts of light and I managed to capture a couple photos I liked.


Frozen leaf


But the arrival of more folks made me decide it was time to leave.  Following the road back to the sno-park I began to encounter large groups of people until, over the last half mile, it became a continuous stream.  Despite the early wake-up time, getting to the lake early that day had had been a good decision.

The weather-guessers are predicting winter '20-'21 will be a La Nina year, which means wetter weather and more snow for the mountains.  This skier approves!  From the amount of snow I saw that day it appeared Mt Hood was off to a banner start.  But I'll keep doing my snow dances just in case (wink-wink!)




  1. Hello,

    What a beautiful hike, the views of the lake and Mt Hood are just gorgeous. I think we rec'd about 8 inches of snow yesterday. It is great you were able to get ahead of the crowds of people on the trail. Beautiful photos. Take care, have a happy day!

  2. Magnificent photos of Mount Hood across the frozen lake. We had our first bit of snow over in the UK a couple of weeks back but it's been warm and wet ever since

  3. That's an awful lot of snow. You should have great snowshoeing and skiing.

  4. So pretty! You are fortunate that La Nina gives you wetter weather, down here in Prescott it will be a warm dry winter...bummer!

  5. ...I've been to Trillium Lake in July and it was beautiful then. This is magical.

  6. wow you have a lot more snow than us!

  7. Gorgeous images. That mountain is the perfect picture.

  8. Absolutely pristine and magnificent!
    I don't suppose the ski bus will be running this season.

  9. Glad you're getting snow. We're getting a few inches here and there but less than last year at this time. There's enough to go into the forest on the touring skis though. The ski areas in our county are open, but we haven't gone yet. There is a reservation system this season to get on the mountain. The gray jays sometimes follow me for awhile when I go into the forest - just in case food is involved.

  10. The fresh snow makes everything look wonderful. Looking forward to seeing your ski-ing pictures next year. Have a good Christmas.

  11. Such pretty shots! Snow makes everything so magical.

  12. I can hear you chomping at the bit to get on your skis already! We've got little to no snow but can't control the weather! You got AMAZING photos and I for one am glad you got up early and took us along with you through those shots. I think the Hood is just such an amazing "looker"!

  13. The situation here is bad! We need more snow.

  14. Thank you for sharing these wonderful photos.
    Happy Holidays 🎄 and a Happy New Year 🎉full of health, joy and love.


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