Don’t…

…go into the light.

But it’s so beautiful!

I do love the fact that this particular light is but an hour from the house, with pretty darn reasonable rates to gain access to more than a few turns while Goddess heals people.

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Cascade Sunset

TBT*, something I typically don’t do, but I have a lot of catching up to do with pics that haven’t been posted here.

One of my favorite sunsets from last summer, sitting with Goddess on a big pile of lava, looking north towards Mount Jefferson just a few days before the big fire that roared through its wilderness area.

*TBT=throwback Thursday, for those of you not hep to the lingo.

Winter Trees

“Skiing combines outdoor fun with knocking down trees with your face.” — Dave Barry

Well, that is one way to look at it.

Of course, my goal is to not beat trees with my face, but to each their own.

When the fresh powder gets deep, that’s the time to head to the steeps, the trees, or a combination thereof.

49N Peacemaker

For those of you not up on your ski resort trail markings, a double black diamond is “for experts only.” Well, that’s not me, but doesn’t mean that I can’t stretch myself.

And hopefully not beat a tree or two with my face.

Before pushing over the edge, I like to stop and enjoy the view. Mainly because once I push over the edge, there won’t be much of a chance to enjoy the view, as I’m too focused on making it through the spaces.

Never, never, never look at the trees while you are flying through them. Look at the spaces. Otherwise, you will hit the tree that you are looking at.

Today’s survival tip for you.

Luckily, this slope isn’t too densely populated by solid objects.

49N Peacemaker Slope

But it sure is steep at the beginning, sloped somewhere around 45° for the first several turns. And my preferred lines were between those clumps of trees to the left and to the right.

Steep, deep, and tight. A great day on the slopes.

A couple of days later, another dump of fresh snow. A different mountain, different runs, and a fun way to ratchet up the challenge—after dark.

Aim for the bright spots!

Mt Spokane Night Trees

Well, not the bright, bright spots, as that’s the light bouncing off the trees. How about “aim for the not so bright, and definitely not the dark, spots”?

Most importantly, a good tree run requires a moment of reflection somewhere among them.

They do have a lot to say.

Hopefully you aren’t letting the winter weather (for those of you in the Northern Hemisphere) keep you from hearing what they have to say.

 

Winter Hike

Well, not so much a hike as a little jaunt. Nothing adventurous, just an afternoon out to check out the local snowshoe trails. That and get a closer look at this layer that will cause problems later this winter.

We had a good snow almost a week ago, followed by clear, cold days (and nights). That causes the hoar frost that you see in the picture to form on the snow. As more snow falls on top of it, it acts as a weaker layer, like ball bearings. It’s layers like this that crack and let avalanches flow.

This picture was taken about midway down one of my favorite ski mountain runs, where it will be controlled. In the backcountry, it won’t be. That’s when it’s  a problem.

Luckily we aren’t there yet, although there are a couple of similar layers deeper in the snowpack. We just didn’t have to deal with them today as we stuck to well-traveled trails on relatively gentle slopes and enjoyed some scenery.

And poor Goddess had to deal with my constant commands in order to get some pictures of her in the scenery. She sure is a good sport. Perhaps it was because she could walk in a well-packed path instead of having to break trail in deep snow.

We are thankful to have these resources just a short drive from the house. It sure makes it easier to get out and enjoy them, especially on days like this where the runs and trails are not crowded.

Hopefully the New Year is treating you well so far. Goddess and I do hope that the rest of the year treats you extremely well.

Same Tradition as Every Year

We picked up this lovely tradition whilst living in Germany—the watching of “Dinner for One,” an English-language skit that really took off there, becoming an annual New Year’s Eve tradition.

I wasn’t going to post it here again, but we were going to watch it. Then, during a phone call, a friend asked where it was.

So here it is. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do, especially as we think back over the different New Year’s Eve viewings since we were introduced to this by our neighbors in Germany.

For the background on the video: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dinner_for_One

Happy New Year, everyone!

Upheld

This photo has become a tradition for this blog on each Christmas Eve since 2010. This ornament is appropriate, as it was spied that year hanging in a vendor’s booth at the Christmas Market in Vienna, Austria.

I know that it has been six months since my last post here, even though I have a deep pool of content from which to pull to have filled up that time. But after 11 years of posting here, I’ve become ambivalent towards this platform and, honestly, the lack of interaction in what has become, predominantly, a one-sided conversation. But that’s an issue for me to figure out, should this rise up the priority list.

Regardless, know that our wish for you is to have a peaceful end of the calendar year adhering to whatever practices bring you comfort and joy.

Hopefully you will find a bit of relaxation in there too.

Christmas Eve Globe Lights Ornament by Bill Anders Photography

Us and Them

While that last post wasn’t that long ago, the events within were a couple of weeks older.

As soon as that week of trail work was done, I made a quick, unplanned trip home to see Goddess. I had been away for over three weeks and still had a couple more weeks scheduled, but too advantage of a gap and caught a bus ride home. I had made the same drive many times, but it was great to sit back, let the driver do the work, and enjoy the scenery. 

After a few days with Goddess, she was dropping me off at a trailhead in central Oregon. But not until we enjoyed a classic central Cascades sunset together.

Unfortunately, as I write this, that view is marred by the smoke of the Whitewater Fire in the Mount Jefferson Wilderness took hold and started to flare up while we were working. In the week since, it has exploded, dashing the hopes of thousands hoping to view this month’s eclipse surrounded by beauty. Shorter term, closures mean that this year’s PCT thru-hikers are scrambling for options.

But that’s jumping ahead. We have work to do first.

Fill that Hole

Our last project turned out to be a doozy. We got word that down the trail, in the opposite direction that we were working towards, was a washed out section of trail. So some of our focus shifted to fix the issue while the rest continued brushing the remainder of the section of trail that had been our sole focus. 

Once we got to the spot, it was obvious that it was tough for hikers but impassible for horses and stock animals. To make matters worse, it was on a steep hillside, so it would take a fair bit of work to build it up so that it was stable and would last more than just a season or two.

Here’s everyone looking at the problem and coming up with solutions before a few of us stayed behind to tackle it. The trickiest part was making the area stable, so that meant harvesting rocks from the hillside above. That alone made for some very exhilarating moments as we got the larger rocks to the site. Once we got a retaining wall built, we were pretty good at getting the rocks to stop in time. But sometimes the larger rocks carried too much momentum, debarking or destroying trees as they continued their journey, crashing through the forest as they continued downhill. Thankfully there weren’t any trails or roads below us.

It took a full day, plus a few hours the following day, to get it to a usable state. What you can’t see in the pic above are several rocks in the 300-450lb range that are holding everything together. Not only were they heavy, but they were awkward to handle and move into place, especially for the 3-4 people that we had on site at any given time. But we got it done.

Finishing this job came at the perfect time. We were shelled from a week of hard work, but quite satisfied with what we had done. 

Break for Views

On these week-long crews, we get either a half or full day off to relax or explore the area. On this trip we had an afternoon to explore. Most of us opted to hike to the top of Table Mountain, the nearest peak.

From there we had a great view of the Cascades both north and south of us. Standing on top of Table Mountain meant that it wasn’t blocking our view of Mount Hood. Nor the Columbia River. Nor Bonneville Dam.

However, the best part for most of us was the panoramic view of the volcanoes to the north.

Looking at the snow-capped peaks from left to right, that’s Mount St. Helens, Mount Rainier, and Mount Adams. Plus, there’s a good look up the Columbia River Gorge. 

The restful afternoon was needed, especially as we closed out the week with some of the toughest work.

Cut that Bench 

Once we broke out of the brush, we had some beautiful mountain meadows to enjoy. The downside is that the wet ground had slowly slid as it overtook the trail. We had to fix that.

Believe it or not, the trail is right up the center of that picture. The flowers and grasses had overgrown the trail, while the last of the winter snowmelt was still seeping from the rocks to the left. A day’s work solved one of the issues.

In the distance you can see one of our newest rock stars, a young lady who had just graduated college and was enjoying her summer before diving into the corporate world. She had never spent so much as an afternoon doing trail work before this, so she did the rational thing, diving into a week-long backcountry crew with a bunch of strangers. And she loved it!

She wasn’t the only one. We had a college junior and a 40-something poet do exactly the same thing. All three spent the week grinning ear to ear.

Perhaps it was also the views.

Looking south from the middle of the meadow, looking towards the Columbia River Gorge. That’s Table Mountain in the foreground, with Wy’east (Mount Hood) peaking over her shoulder.

Please don’t ask me what the flowers are. I am quite weak in that area, although it is on the list of things to learn.