I went snow hiking!
I mean, okay. I went snow-hiking last Saturday too… but I didn’t put the chains on the car, so I don’t think it counts as a “Return of the Snow-Stang”, right? Snow driving required, for the title?
So yeah. If we’re all in agreement that this one counts as my first snow-stang snow-venture of the… snow season?
I drove out!
The snow wasn’t too bad, to be perfectly frank – I was able to get all the way to the high-point of the drive, right near the turn for the Timberline Lodge, before the roads had any snow / ice accumulation at all. In the spirit of paranoia and precaution, I took this chance to pull over and toss on the tire chains – Better safe than sorry when there’s ice on the roads, right?
The rest of the drive definitely made me glad that I’d stopped – That one intersection is basically a dividing line for one reason or another. One side – mostly cleared, plowed, and graveled roads. On the other side – packed snow, ice, and walls of snow on the sides of the road.
I really do love the winter. I love the snow on the trees, I love the drifting flakes of snow, and I love the focus that the snowfall brings with it… Don’t get me wrong, I love the sound of rain pattering! But for some reason, the quiet of snowfall just hits differently, you know? It’s so serene…
With almost no one on the road with me, and my speed capped at 30mph thanks to the chains, the serenity of the drive was real. I went slowly, grinding my way over the snowpack toward the parking lot, thankfully without a slip or a slide to speak of. Even turning onto the side road to the trailhead saw the Mustang react exactly as it would on a dry summers day… or at least, the slides weren’t more than a few degrees off center axis.
I parked, I hiked, and I enjoyed the falling snow. I enjoyed the quiet that came with it, and I enjoyed the sense of exploration that I felt when my footprints were the only things I could see behind me.
The canyons cut by the rivers that I crossed were just one more piece of evidence that the winter truly had come, and when I did finally turn around I was happily content with how my little “first exploration of the season” had gone.
I definitely wanted to keep going, don’t get me wrong! Driving home at night, though… See, driving in the day isn’t so bad, because the sun’s heated the road up and kept the snowpack malleable. Enough for the chains to grip, yeah? But once the sun goes down, so does the temperature… and without the sun rays to keep the snowpack soft, it quickly becomes ice.
And while I can definitely drive on ice… I’d still vastly prefer to be past the snowline, yeah?
Back I hiked, off I drove, and soon enough I found myself back in the traditional Oregon world of warm rain…