Sunrise, sunset

I’ve seen many sunsets from Marys Peak and a few sunrises, but never both on the same day.  With the return of inversion weather (45-50 and clear up high, 35-40 and foggy in the valley), I set out at 5:30 am to catch the sunrise.  I found the road blocked in a deep snow section by a high school kid with similar sunrise intentions who got his small car high-centered.  It took about 15 minutes to get him rolling back down the mountain, and I had no trouble driving to the upper gate.  Four-wheel drive and an extra 3 inches of ground clearance can really make a difference.  Despite the warm temperature, snow in open areas had a hard icy crust that made for challenging skiing but easy walking.  I made it to the top (2.1 miles) 10 minutes before the sun peeked out from behind Mt. Bachelor at 7:28 am.

Five minutes before sunrise. Crows circling overhead. Willamette Valley filled with fog.

Clearest view I have seen of Mt. Rainier (left), 184 miles distant, appearing right next to closer (and smaller) Mt. St. Helens on the right.

When I got back just after 9 am, my housemates were all still in bed.

Later on Liz felt like an outdoor adventure, so we decided to head back up the mountain for sunset.  By 4 pm, the formerly hard-crusted snow had turned into a wet slush, though still fairly firm.  As she doesn’t have skis, we went on snowshoes, roughly following a hiking trail through the woods to the summit.  The sun sank into the ocean (actually a layer of clouds just above the water) at 5:28 pm, giving us exactly 10 hours of sunlight today.  That’s up from less than 9 hours on the winter solstice, but still a long ways from summer.

Looking into the last rays of sunshine.

10 seconds to sunset.

Lots of other folks had the same idea, and above the upper gate the road is turning into an icy/slushy mess of ruts made by high-clearance trucks and Jeeps spinning along, getting stuck, and digging themselves out.  Some windblown areas are melted down to bare pavement.  We will need some fresh snow to rejuvenate the skiing experience.  Current forecast has that happening this Wed/Thurs.


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