Tag Archives: Oregon Hiking

Return of the Snow-Stang!

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Thursday, 23-Dec-2021


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.

It.

Was.

Gorgeous!




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…






The first major snow-hike of the Winter!

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Saturday, 18-Dec-2021


Snow!

Snow, Snow, Snow!

I love snow!


I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s an interesting thing worth repeating – In Oregon, the snow level is very much dependent on elevation. When I picked up my coworkers in town, it was a nice (albeit drizzly) morning. Cold, but not that nice crisp-cold… sort of a damp-ish cold. But by the time we all piled out of the car at the trailhead it was crisp, snowy, and gloriously overcast. Little flurries of snow, with the loud “whump” of snow falling off the trees as the day got warmer.

Portland itself is just about sea level, as is Wilsonville, both being just about 100ft above sea level. Our destination for the day, however, was just below 3,500ft elevation… and the snow level met us at just about 2,500ft during our drive up.

Ohh, right. What was our destination? Mirror Lake!!


I know, I know, it’s not the most exciting or intense hike out there… but you know what? This was the first time that we’d all gotten to hike together, it was the first real snow-hike of the year, and we were stuffing four people into the Mustang. So… you know, Hopefully a little understandable that we didn’t want to go too far or too long.

First off – why the Mustang? Well, my friends had all just moved to Portland earlier this year – so none of them had snow tires, or chains, for their cars. We debated it, but since two of the party were rather small we decided that it’d be simplest to let me drive… I’ve got solid Oregon-snow driving experience, already have chains for the car, and I’ve become quite comfortable driving the Mustang through the sometimes challenging terrain around Mt. Hood.

I mean, that… and I just really like driving the Mustang!



The trailhead was surprisingly empty when we parked and started into the woods… I’ve come to expect this trail to be packed nearly year-round, so this was an absolutely lovely happenstance. On a Saturday, no less! I expect that it’s from the skiing… I have a feeling that all the drifting snow would make for an excellent powder day, so it’s definitely understandable that everyone would be out enjoying the early-season pow-pow days.


We hiked in. We ate lunch at the lake (I brought beef stew!) and we even fed the birds a bit! I adore seeing peoples faces the first time they have a Jay land on their hand… There’s someone just so wholesome about seeing someone take a full “disney princess” moment, you know?



Hiking was excellent – we walked, chatted, enjoyed the views, and had ourselves an excellent time. The snow was quiet, the air was crisp, and there was just enough of a drizzle or rain / snow mixture to keep us happy to be moving.

A very good day, indeed.





As a bonus – I really love the “looking up into the canopy” picture I took… especially because, for some reason, all I can see is Sasquatch walking. Do you see it now?

A visit weekend full of adventures – Hiking Angel’s Rest

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Wednesday, 10-Nov-2021 through Monday, 15-Nov-2021

My friends came to visit!

Two weekends in a row… I’m the most social of all the social butterflies, it seems!

And honestly, I’m so thankful for it. 2021 was, for mas as for everyone, a challenging year. It’d been a year of huge personal growth, and excellent introspection, but at my core I’m still a social creature. Self-reflection is only a part of the growth cycle… sharing those insights, and getting other people’s input, is just as important to someone’s growth.

So when Daniel and Erin asked if they could come to visit the weekend after Dillon and Liz’s wedding… well, I couldn’t say yes fast enough!



Friday, 12-Nov-2021

Daniel and Erin had landed on Wednesday, and then spent Thursday exploring the city while I took the chance to force me to bike into work… which is honestly something that I really want to do more often, but can’t quite get myself out for bed in time to consistently do.

Advantage of friends visiting, yet again 🙂


We ate, chatted, and had an excellent time both evenings… but the real fun came on Friday when I was out from the office for the weekend, and we could all cut loose and escape the city together. The Columbia Gorge was calling to us, and even though the weather was looking a bit ominous we steeled ourselves (and packed rain gear) and headed into the storm.


Angel’s Rest is one of those hikes that I’ve done a few times… but for some reason it’s never really stood out in my memory. It’s definitely a gorge hike – not too long, but with fairly significant elevation gain to be had. And at the top, usually excellent views of the river and opposing cliffsides!

Today… was rainy. A bit rainy. A lot bit rainy.

One could even say that it was actively raining, the same that it had been for a few days beforehand. Strange, I know, but Oregon does sometimes have rain in the fall.




Nevertheless, we persisted though – passing waterfalls and rockfaces, knowing that our efforts would probably come to naught more than some short views from inside the clouds. Daniel had checked flight information ahead of time (dang pilots, and all) and theoretically the cloud layer was above the summit of Angel’s Rest… but this was the Gorge, which tends to funnel clouds into lower altitudes.

As we hiked, the clouds stayed where they were, and we slowly walked into their depths as we hit the summit block.

Oregon can be kind sometimes though, and as we walked to the cliffs edge, the clouds cracked and we got a glorious few views of the ridgeline behind us!

The clouds closed in behind us as we hiked out, and the rain picked up as we got lower and lower toward the gorge floor. Perfect timing, if you ask me, since it just gave us that little extra oomph to finish the hike up a bit more quickly, and to make it out to Little Big burger before it closed… And then home in time to make some excellent Dark and Stormies with the rum from the previous weekend!