Tag Archives: Snow

Post Thanksgiving adventures – Mirror Lake and Mt Hood… And a huge pretzel!

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Saturday, 30-Nov-2019

 

After Thanksgiving this year, we went hiking!  Two days afterward, we hiked out to Mirror Lake, and then did a few quick steps on Mt. Hood, before relaxing in the Timberline Lodge with cocoa and a huge warm pretzel.

It was excellent.

 

Our first objective was Mirror Lake, on the Tom Dick and Harry trail to the South West of Mt. Hood.  We’d hiked here before, a few times if I recall, but hiking in the snow is always a new experience… the Sun coming through, the snow levels, how much ice and how much melt… it all ties together into making a unique winter wonderland for us to enjoy.

More importantly makes for a wonderland for Ollie to enjoy, since I think the sheer exultation that she felt after we got out of the car was more than both Sarah and I combined.

Before we could get started though, we earned a bit of good Karma – When parking, we ended up parking next to a rather large camper-van vehicle.  One of those pickup campers, where there’s a camper placed into the bed of a standard pickup truck?  Yeah, that.

As we packed up to start hiking, it became readily apparent that the family staying in the camper was having a bit of trouble.  The Dad had the hood open, was trying to turn the engine over, the whole nine yards.  We offered to help, of course, and ended up trying a few things to get them up and running.  After a ton of battling, a simple jump-start was all they needed – We got their engine turned over and making happy noises, all before their kids even realized that anything out of the ordinary was happening.

 

After that quite auspicious start, we headed into the woods and had a glorious time crunching through the ice and snow.  The tree canopy kept the sun pretty dispersed, but every so often we’d get a beautiful beam of light cutting through – it was beautiful, in a very calm and collected sort of way.

There’s not much to be said about the hike aside from that… it was lovely, Ollie spent the whole time sprinting around, and Sarah and I had a great time.  We hiked, we rested at Mirror Lake, and then we hiked back.  It was excellent!

 

After Mirror Lake we were tired, but not quite tired enough to head back to the house just yet… so we headed to Mt. Hood to do a bit more exploring.  The weather on Hood was a far sight from Mirror Lake – without the tree cover, the wind was doing its best to blast us off the side of the mountain and the clouds were at just the right level to cut off most of the direct light from the sun.  The whole scene had this interesting diffused light, painting everything into a beautifully bleak and desolate scene.

We didn’t last too long, thanks to the harsh wing slinging snow and sand at us, combined with the quite chilly temperature.  Thankfully, we’d already tired ourselves out pretty well on Mirror Lake, so we didn’t feel too bad turning around after an hour or so.  Ollie didn’t even seem to mind too much… but then again, we’ve found that it takes at least a day and a half of solid hiking to really tire her out.

 

We headed back to the car, stashed our gear, bundled Ollie up in her blankets, and grabbed a quick snack at the Timberline Lodge.  A cup of cocoa, a mug of coffee, and a huge pretzel kept us company while sitting and reading by the fire – we didn’t stay for too long, since the sun was getting close to setting, but we had an amazing time nonetheless.  A very good ending to a very lovely day.

 

 

Sunday, 24-Feb-2019 – Hiking to Angels Rest, Columbia River Gorge

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Sunday, 24-Feb-2019

 

Sarah and I have been having rather amazingly relaxing weekends – getting things done around the house, decompressing from the weeks, and trying to keep calm amid the swirling chaos of my new job and Sarah’s art fair deadlines.

For the most part, we’re doing well and staying sane.

But… it’s not easy, and sometimes what we need is an escape into the mountains.  Or, in this case, the cliffs of the gorge.

 

This weekend was kind of rough, starting out… we knew that we wanted to go on some sort of adventure, but couldn’t decide what to do or where to go.  The mountains of the Pacific Northwest had gotten hit pretty hard the previous week with snow, so all the major peaks were under avalanche warning – those weren’t an option.  Long drives were possible… but we honestly couldn’t see ourselves sitting in the car for four hours after the craziness of the week.

We ended up cutting ourselves some slack, and taking it easy: The Columbia River Gorge is right in our back yard, after all, so why not take advantage of that?  Especially when it’s being blanketed in a new coat of light snow!

 

We packed the night before, poured a thermos of coffee that morning, and drove in.

Honestly, there’s not much to say about the hike.  It was simple, it was beautiful, and it was easy.  It was, with all of those, exactly what we needed.  A chance to get into the woods, to feel the wind and the snow, and to enjoy the stillness of the winter air.  Or, the stillness of the air being broken by the sound of Ollie sprinting up and down the trail, loving every second of being able to play in the snow.

It was a good hike.

 

Christmas and New Years break, 2016 into 2017: Hiking Lochnagar

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Hiking the Munros of Scotland – Lochnagar!

Monday, 02-Jan-2017

The Lydecker’s like getting up early.

I am less enthusiastic about this… but somehow I make it out of bed at o’dark:30 with Sarah and Greta, and find myself sitting in the car, watching the sunrise over the munros… a significant time after leaving the house.

But it was worth it! We’re in Cairngorm national park by 8:00, with the pink sky lighting up the mountains, and a whole herd of red tailed deer (really the size of elk) wandering around in the pre-dawn light. It was amazing.

We started in at the car park near Loch Muick, having a short bit of an adventure with the parking machine not working, before Sarah remembered her training and literally kicked it back into functionality. Turns out, not all tropes are incorrect… sometimes the best way to fix electronics is just to smack them. With that settled, we headed up toward the summit of Lochnagar – a short hill compared to what we’ve got in Oregon, but a non-trivial ascent per Scotland’s standards.

We’d prepared as well as we could, bringing all sorts of winter gear, maps, GPS receivers, and extra layers. But we didn’t expect to use them… after all, this was a quick 3,500 ft hill walk, how bad could it be?

Well… it was bad.

It was bad, but we enjoyed every minute of it. Every boot planted in the river that we had to cross, soaking through our socks. Every parry during Sarah and my ice-jedi duel (we found some 2ft icicles, so… clearly fencing), and every dirty look from elderly Scotsmen who don’t take kindly to ice-jedi shenanigans on their mountains. But the weather kept getting worse, and the snow fall kept getting thicker around us.

The fun and games could only keep us going so long… once we rounded the south side of the mount, and started West, we felt the full fury of Scotland’s weather. It was cold. The wind was nearly enough to knock us over. Ice and snow and rain and pelting hail stung us. I mean… this was a serious, right out of a movie, full on Scottish storm. Or, as the older gentleman who passed us would probably say, a Monday in Cairngorm.

We went as far as we could, making to a large trail cairn before we really couldn’t make it any further. We placed our stones on top of the trail marker, and started our way back down. Our second river crossing wasn’t any easier than our first, but thankfully no boots got any more wet than they already were… and we didn’t have to walk very far anyways, because our short term target was right past the river…

A small pumphouse, nestled in the forest above the mansion that we’d passed earlier. A perfect spot to stop and have a sandwich, some water, and a granola bar. Also, a perfect spot to just appreciate the storm front that was coming in… from here, we could see the entire top of the Munro covered in a snowstorm, and could even see how quickly that storm was coming toward us.

We walked out a bit quicker than we’d walked in, enjoying the sparse deep forest, the picturesque mansion (seemingly straight out of Game of Thrones), and the moors that we had to cross. Then, instead of turning directly toward the car, we took advantage of the slowing storm and walked up to the edge of Loch Muick, the beautiful lake right nearby.

Here, I got my perfect view of Scotland: Small rivers running through a peat bog, with cliffs and a storm in the background, silhouetting the mountains slowly being covered in snow. Ohh my lord it was gorgeous!

And a bonus? We’d gotten up so early, that there was still light left in the day! We got to get some coffee, some scotch, and even pick up a new pair of boots for Sarah, and a super nice rain jacket for myself in the town of Ballater before heading back into Aberdeen proper for dinner with everyone else.

Malmaison was the dinner of the evening, and since we’d earned a few extra calories, Sarah and I both got the venison dish. It was amazing, but I’ll admit that Henry’s prime rib kind of out did it… though I did kind of prefer the sauce that came with the venison over the seared flavor of the prime.