Ski break

Last Sunday we headed 90 miles east to Santiam Pass for a five-mile ski loop.  There are lots of trails in the mountains, but only the highest have adequate snow in this somewhat anomalous winter.  At 4800 feet the snow is three feet deep, but five inches of rain on top of the snowpack has hardened the surface into a crust strong enough to walk on.  Not ideal skiing conditions, but bright sunlight and a temperature in the low 40s helped to soften the top inch enough for ski traction.  This was Liz’s third time on skis, and all three times have been in somewhat challenging icy or slushy conditions.  I think she is learning quickly, getting her “ski legs” as she says.

Looking south toward Mount Washington

Trail with snowshoe and sled tracks. We met the campers who had pulled their gear in on sleds.

Elizabeth on the south leg of our loop

Looking north toward Three-fingered Jack. I climbed up this knoll to ski down into the bowl in front of me.

Interesting "flock" of clouds behind me next to Hayrick Butte, looking west. These were the first harbingers of an incoming rain system. In another two hours it would be overcast, and we drove home into ever-cloudier skies, reaching the first drops of rain just before Corvallis.

Another amazing cloud formation - Liz called this the "dragon cloud."

This is the time of year in Oregon when the rain keeps falling and the temperature stays cool, but nature begins to show signs of spring.  Crocuses are blooming, and on nights above freezing we can hear a chorus of frogs in the wetlands to the south.  We planted our first lettuce and radishes last Saturday, in the greenhouse.  With luck they will be ready in early April.

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