Thursday, December 30, 2010

Snow Day Adventure

Graham, Jake, & I went up Wednesday afternoon to play in the snow and enjoy the winter season. The weather at the house was quite odd yesterday, as it went from rain to snow, back to rain again, then more snow, then just blustery, on and on in period of about 5 hours. By noon, the snow had fallen so hard and steadily that it stuck, but only for a few minutes. We left Springfield after quite a bit of procrastination (I had planned on going up with my brother Lee but he was unable to come along at the last minute) and headed east of town, toward the Cascades and the Santiam Pass.

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Soon after getting on the road, the snow returned again, this time with a vengeance. The fact that it wasn't sticking made me feel more confident, as I knew I would be driving about 60 miles in order to reach the area where I wanted to go. Usually, the snow level is far above the elevation of Eugene/Springfield, but yesterday was an exception as it crept down to about 500 feet.

We made great time up to McKenzie Bridge, about 50 miles upriver from my house. The snow was now stuck to the Douglas Firs that lined the highway and the road was becoming more slick. Here's a video to show the snow as it appeared there:

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After stopping for Jo-jos at the gas station in McKenzie Bridge, the dogs were getting pretty antsy. They always seem to know when it's the type of trip that's for them, like yesterday was, versus the types of trips where we are really trying to log the miles and get somewhere. The road continued to get more and more sketchy as we went up toward the Santiam Pass, and I knew at some point I was going to have to chain up. Tire chains aren't the easiest things to put on your tires, if nothing else then for the fact that you are going to have to get dirty and/or wet to attach them to your tires. It is a fact of life though in mountainous areas- to have a safe trip (and at times to avoid a traffic ticket) you must use them.

We went to our usual SnoPark this time, reasons why being time and road conditions. I determined that yes, the snow would be deeper at a higher elevation, but it wasn't worth me spending an extra hour driving the VERY snowy road to access the summit of the pass. We pulled into Ikenick SnoPark at two o'clock and I was quick to put on my snowshoes. It was snowing a lot when I arrived, and the parking lot already had about 10 inches of snow in it. Walking around without gaiters and snowshoes would have been foolish, to say the least:

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The dogs quickly found their bathroom spots and we got out of the parking lot, exploring around nearby in the trees for things to crawl around, over, and through. The snow was deep for me, up to my mid-thigh, and the dogs would have been swimming if the water in these woods wasn't frozen. I took too many photos to illustrate this point, but here are a few of my favorites:

Graham & Jake blazing the trail

Graham being Graham

Jake exploring the snowy woods



The dogs and I ran about for nearly an hour, taking a break to remove my soft-shell but otherwise zigzagging all over the hillside exploring. It was a truly enjoyable experience, and I would love to go again soon. Hopefully next time Claire will join me :)
It's the little things in life that make me happy.