A fun view of a mountain on which we hope to have a lot of fun this year, Mount Ashland. You can see the ski slopes opposite. They’ve had just a dusting this year.
Last year the ski area never had a chance to open. There was snowfall, but there was never enough accumulation to open the slopes.
We’re hoping for a different season this year.
They even had a snow blessing ceremony up there today to help nudge a better winter.
But instead of attending the ceremony, Goddess and I headed up to a nearby section of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) with friends, celebrating the trail and spending one last hike with a friend who is moving out of the area. She’s spent more than a few hours helping maintain the trial and it was the right place to spend a bit of time with her.
Plus, we had our own little “ceremony”, as she was bequeathed a trail name of her own, in the same spot this picture was taken, looking across at Mount Ashland at approximately the same time they were holding the blessing ceremony.
We had actually stopped in this clearing about 30 minutes prior. The clouds were a bit thicker down in the valley and were shifting left (southeast) in a process I like to refer to as “the valley breathing”. It’s a common process this time of year.
Overnight, the fog and stratus set up in the valley. Our town (just off frame right) is at the high end of the valley, so the fog and stratus never get too thick. By mid-morning, there’s enough heating that it burns off that shallow layer, giving our town clear skies while the rest of the valley is stuck in grey gloom. The clear skies allow the mountains and floor of the high end of the valley to heat up, causing the air to rise. The air that is displaced by that convection has to be replaced, so the cool wet air from down the valley moves back in, bringing with it the stratus and fog. On a day where there isn’t any upper clouds, this process happens several times. But today, we did have the cirrus, so it only happened a couple of times.
One of the times we were able to observe from this spot.
As we stepped into the clearing, the distant mountains were still visible, but we could see the clouds moving rapidly from frame right to frame left. The heating had already occurred and the clouds were moving back in. As we watched, the far mountains, then the near hills, were obscured. Soon the clouds were pushing up the clearing towards us, obscuring a lone deer at the bottom of the clearing as we were wrapped in the edges of the blanket.
The blanket soon retreated.
By the time the cloud had retreated from the clearing, the process had reversed. The air was sinking back down into the deeper parts of the valley, moving from frame left to frame right. You can even see the clouds pouring over the hilltop at the lower right of the frame.
A short while later, we were back in town and the skies were clear.
And a few short hours after that, after sunset, and we’re socked back in here at our end of the valley.
Thankfully we have the opportunity to get above it when we feel the need.