This time of year in the Pacific Northwest, it’s typically dreary. We’ll get nice days as well, but “nice” merely means “not actively raining.” These days are usually accompanied by a thick blanket of clouds, threatening, but not yet releasing any precipitation.
Every so often, though, we get true sun with bright blue skies.
It’s these days that I prefer to venture out to the mountain for some winter exercise. I can slow down and enjoy the crisp air and the mountain slope around me without secretly wishing I were dry inside a warm lodge somewhere with a hot toddy and a roaring fire. I can explore the winter wonderland without returning looking all weathered (literally), bedraggled by the icy rain that simply refuses to fall as harmless snowflakes.
I ventured out to Mt. Hood with some fellow adventurous ladies with the intent of snowshoeing. What we found, however, was that there simply wasn’t enough snow to really justify busting out the snowshoes. So we settled for a winter hike instead.
And we lucked out with one of those rare sunny days. The day was so bright I actually had to bust out my sunnies. This time of year, I often wonder where they are, as I seldom need them. But all this light also means harsh shadows and contrasty scenes.
If you think I let that stop me from taking pictures, you’re sorely mistaken.
Instead, I embraced the light… and the day.
Sure, this wasn’t a day I’d want to shoot portraits, but I still like the stark whites and vibrant blues. It reminded me of hiking in Colorado. It probably would have been better shooting early morning, but I don’t think I would have enjoyed the hike as much. Sometimes, it’s ok to let the photography take a back seat to the experience of a day.
As it was, we crunched our way along the packed trail through trees and along a river. It was quiet and fresh and beautiful. And it wasn’t even too cold! I quickly found I had to strip a few layers.
Coming to the end of the trail, we were met with a wonderful view of the peak. And it seems the local birds fancied the spot as well. With a few cracker crumbs, these birds flew right to our hands. I even managed to fool one with a few bits of ice instead. I later paid for the deception when the birds wouldn’t stop dive-bombing us for our lunches.
The trail continued up a steep and snowy hillside, and I immediately regretted having not brought my snowshoes. I managed to get about halfway up before I slipped a little. Given a previous year’s near-death experience sliding uncontrollably down half an icy mountain, I wasn’t going to chance it. Some of the ladies with snowshoes made it a bit farther, but only one actually made it to the top. At least I can say I gave it a valiant effort!
The sun brought out more snow-players than photographers; we passed other groups on snowshoes on our way out. And at a massive hill, the trail was packed with sleds. I stopped for a bit to photograph their antics; it was quite entertaining, as many quickly became separated from their sleds.
All-in-all, it was a fun day, more for the experience than the photography, but I’m still pleased with some of my shots. It was good to take a break and get away for a while. I’ll be going cross-country skiing next week. I hope for similarly nice weather!
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