Category Archives: ski bum life

Palmer 2012 and other stuff

Yesterday morning was a perfect illustration of Timberline’s dual nature.  We started out in the trees, with conditions like this:







Annoyingly I had to stop and wipe my glasses every fifty yards or so.  While my goggles had been great all season, yesterday, they….weren’t.

Then as we got off of Jeff Flood after our third run through the trees, we spotted what looked like a clearing trend up high on the Mountain.  So we hopped on the Magic Mile and went up, to this:







The Palmer chairlift is now open, so I convinced DH to give it a try.  Palmer is the highest lift on Hood, and it’s a black diamond–as much for the elevation and lack of trees as the steepness.  Here’s a look:







We skied down Palmer twice, taking our time and going slowly.  For one thing, it was steep, for another, it was pretty cut up.  But we did well, though DH hit a patch of snow and his ski popped off at one point.  Still not sure how that one happened, but it was on a flat run so not too bad.

Our Palmer runs were a lot like our early runs on the Mile–slow, careful, with breaks to ease the legs.  When you ski slow and under more control, that’s more fatiguing than skiing fast.  But neither one of us were really up for a fast mile-long run, especially one like Palmer.  Nonetheless it was gorgeous and in the sun, while everything else was fogged in.

And then we came home, rested, then went to the DH’s thirty year award banquet.  On the way home, we spotted Reed College’s Renn Faire fireworks so we stopped to enjoy those.  A lovely end to a lovely day.

Today is a light day.  I could have gone to the barn, but I wanted to do household chores and get back to work on the Netwalk stories.  Friday, besides watching over the son here at home, I got my MS together and out for the Angry Robot open call, and then sent out all the short stories that have been accumulating since the last big submissions flurry.  For the moment, everything marketable is now out.

So I’ve planted my flowerpots with pansies, cosmos, begonias, lobelias and petunias.  Several leftover petunias got stuck into filler positions around the flower beds.  That’s pretty much all of my flower planting for now since I planted the rest of the nasturtiums and sunflowers on Friday.  The California poppies, sweet peas and first nasturtium plantings are cruising right along.  Looks like we’ll have edible pod peas by the end of May.  The apple trees appear to be setting fruit (except for the baby Yellow Transparent) so we should have some nice apples this year.  Despite the craziness, we do appear to be on track.

Onward now to rearranging office and getting to work on Netwalk stuff.  It’s been way too long.

Comments Off on Palmer 2012 and other stuff

Filed under ski bum life

It’s a lovely April afternoon. So we go skiing.

DH and I had many plans for this weekend, and one of them involved shoehorning a ski day around work/credentials testing today and work/ballet/groceries/etc tomorrow.  The weather for a quick yet pleasant ski trip looked auspicious for this afternoon, so…we went for it.

Spring skiing at its best.  You’ll have to take my word for it; no camera this time and that was probably a good thing.  While the temps were in the high 30s F, the winds out of the northwest roared through with gusts in the mid-thirties, at least by the official measurement.

I think there were a few stronger than that.  At least one gust pushed both me and DH back into the chair momentarily at the top of the Magic Mile.

Nonetheless, despite the wind it was comfortable, sunny with clouds wisping through the high slopes, and crystalline snow blowing drifts across the groomed areas to provide a bit of wind tillage to even out the surface.  Cloudbanks kept threatening to sock us in, but by the time they hit the ridge just on the west edge of the Mile, they’d break up into clawlike tendrils that briefly resembled roaring dragons.  We watched the clouds, fascinated, on each ride up the Mile.

Then we flew down.  A bit of wind assist, I’d say, and somewhat spooky with the flying shadows from the clouds skittering across the snowfields, alternating shadows and sunlight.  Conditions were icy with drifted powder, but a sharp, crisp ice rather than wet over ice.  The line between crisp ice and slush hit quite sharply.  Not enough to throw us, as it happened on a flatter part of the slope, but it was clearly a quick transition between softer snow and harder snow, and the softer snow was still cold enough to be slick instead of grabby.

Some days the wind on the Mile is just too sharp and cutting to bear.  Then the groom has to be good enough to want to ride uphill huddled over on the chair to preserve body heat.  It wasn’t like that today.  Sharp wind, true, wind strong enough to push me along with my back to it unless I dug in my edges, but still a capricious, warming spring breeze, cold and crisp with promise.  The same gust that pushed me back onto the chair also whipped a small chunk of ice into my cheek just before we got off.

Slipping off the chair was a bit of a challenge, not just because of the wind but because the ramp was a sheet of solid ice, but again, it was crisp and not wet over ice, which is a lot easier to handle.  And once we dropped over the edge and started down, between the wind and the firm snow, we both built up quite a bit of speed.  We started with 15 minute circuits (between riding up and skiing down) and ended with 10 minute circuits.  Not bad for a couple of old pharts who took up skiing later in life.

And then we came home to a warm spring afternoon.  I decided that today was the First Day for Hippie Skirt Wearing.

A clear sign that spring is here.  Hopefully we’ll get more lovely days like this up on the Mile (and maybe I can even sneak encourage the husband to try out Palmer.  He’s done Vicky’s.  Could be an epic spring for Palmer).

Yep.  Ski day #18.  Sweet.

Comments Off on It’s a lovely April afternoon. So we go skiing.

Filed under ski bum life

Ski Day #16–Spring? What’s That?

Ideally I’d have a picture of this day at Timberline but I forgot the camera today.  So there.  You’ll just have to imagine 208 inches of snow at Timberline.  Snow’s stacked up so high on the roadsides that it’s like driving through a tunnel of snow.  Addie-the-car motored right on up Timberline Road this morning easy as could be.  She handles more like a SUV than the Mighty Subaru did.  But steady, and I’m getting used to the slightly larger, slightly higher ride.  Today was a good test of her ability to handle windy snow conditions, and she did well.

Packed powder conditions this morning.  Drier powder, and about five inches of it in places.  We started out with heavier wind and snow first thing in the morning, but down in the tree runs things weren’t too bad.  There’d been enough snow to drift and fill in a lot of bumps, and at first it was floaty and easy to glide on, rather than hard and icy.

That changed as more skiers arrived.  Two hours after we’d started, the powder was pretty much chundered up, the bumps were back on the runs, and my fingers were freezing.  Good thing I didn’t have the camera, really, because my fingers would have been even colder.  At one point I pulled my fingers into my palms to get the full effect of the hand warmers–I’m thinking my next step will be to get a pair of mittens.

But hey–deep snow.  Pretty snow.  Icicles on fir trees, blowing drifts of powder snow, powdered sugar snow in places but overall nice, soft snow.  Glad I waxed the skis last week because it was a real waxstripper of a day–have to wax before our next outing which won’t be for a week and a half.  Next weekend is Norwescon, no time to ski.  And then I’ll have the school ski day after that.

In any case, there’s nothing quite like skiing down a short sharp pitch into a brisk biting wind that snaps at the open skin between the face mask and the goggles.  A real wake-me-up, that is.  And today was a fun bouncy day on the slopes, because the thing about powder of the type we get here in the western Cascades?  It bounces as you bash down the slope, especially with a small amount of speed.  Doesn’t take a lot, doesn’t need to be crazy fast, but with the right amount and type of powder, I can feel like a real crazy skier whilst working a really mellow slope.  Then I can watch the crazy kids doing 360s and somersaults while serenely gliding uphill in the chairlift.

Works for me.

Comments Off on Ski Day #16–Spring? What’s That?

Filed under ski bum life

Ski Day #13

No pictures today.  DH and I got up, got moving and got up to Timberline in plenty of time  despite it being the first day of Daylight Savings Time.

It was a properly stormy day, 24 degrees F and a steady, strong wind.  There’s been quite a bit more snow since we last skied, which made it nice.  Fresh, crispy snow as well.  It’s allergy season down in the valley, which meant getting back up into the Land of Winter without any pollen was a welcome relief.  Even if it meant getting into cold and wind.  My nose cleared right up, which was a dead giveaway that allergies are more than a wee factor.

Took the DH down Vicky’s Run for the first time, and he liked it.  Then I took him down Molly’s (a black diamond) and he did a respectable job of it.  Molly’s is an interesting little set of pitches.  I don’t think I want to see it without snow on it, though, I suspect it’s pretty much a cliff.  The big mounds of deep snow made it tiring and a bit of a challenge.  Nonetheless, we did it without falls.

But at last the cold wind and me being tired out from a long weekend at OEA-PIE did me in.  Gusts were so strong from the southwest that they stopped or significantly slowed me at the top of Jojami and the last pitch of Uncle Jon’s Band.  I’ve got a bit of windburn on my face even with my good moisturizer to protect it.  We called it a day after about two and a half hours and came home, wherein I promptly took a nap.  Not going to be good for much else today, either–clogged sinuses and all.

Dang spring.

But at least we’ve got a nice base of snow to take us through the spring.  It looks like we’ll be getting a bunch more snow this week as well.  It may be spring down here in the valley, but up on the Mountain it’s twenty degrees colder and still deep in the grasp of winter.

Comments Off on Ski Day #13

Filed under ski bum life

Ski day #12….skiing after the storm, with pix

It was one of those OMG ski days.  Big storm yesterday and last night, with around 6-8 inches of snow.  Temps were cold up on Hood so not only was it a dump, it was a powder dump, of the sort we don’t get much of in this part of the Cascades.  And, being that it was President’s Day weekend, plus Meadows was promising a bluebird day….well, let’s just say that a good chunk of Portland, Vancouver, and who knows from where-all-else were up on the Mountain.  Timberline filled up slowly, and it was gratifying to see that most of the traffic didn’t turn off on Timberline Road….nonetheless, Timberline got full.

And why were so many people into playing into the snow today?

Because of snow like this:

Squeaky, creamy, fine-grained dry snow.  Snow that flowed and spilled rather than lumped, clumped and grabbed.  Still heavy, and after a lot of people skied it, chundered up and demanding on legs and hips.

DH and I lost track of the number of runs while we were skiing, though I’m pretty sure we got at least nine runs in.  All four major runs on Jeff Flood, with an encore on long Kruser by going to the top of Norman and skiing down (which is pretty dang close to two miles, if not two miles already, counts as two).  Then three more runs on Norman, all of them fast.

The Mile wasn’t open, so lift lines were busy.  It wasn’t a matter of visibility as much as it was storm recovery.  The chairlift tower wheels got coated with rime ice, which required this:

And this:

We saw at least four guys working on lift towers; there may have been more.  On one ride up Norman we rode with a Ski Patroller and he said conditions had been horrible yesterday.  Lovely snow, but storming, cold, and strong wind, with wind chills below zero F.  At one point a call came across his radio asking for six more Patrollers to ride up to the top on the snow cat to work on the Mile.  There’s some epic tales about managing conditions on Hood; I’ve only heard a few but from what I’ve heard…

In any case, we had a lovely if crowded ski day.  Toward the end we actually got to see this, but not for long.  Ah.  Yes.  Bliss.

Comments Off on Ski day #12….skiing after the storm, with pix

Filed under ski bum life

Ski day # 11–the joys of wax

I’m still figuring out this waxing thing.  I can’t decide if it’s the wax I’m using on the skis, the scraper, or if it really is the conditions that have me looking at the bottom of our skis and waxing after each session.  Could also be that I’m waxing in situations where before I would have said “Oh, just let it ride for another time or two.”  Then again, when I was buying wax in Hillcrest the other day, some other folks came in looking for wax, quite urgently.  So it could still be the conditions.

Nonetheless, it was another nice ski day.  It started out bluebird :

But soon enough the clouds started moving in for some moody shots:

DH and I started out skiing low, since it was crisp and cold.  Squeaky snow as we stepped into our skis.  We figured it might be icy higher up.  Instead, it was crisp and a wee bit sticky down low.  We had first tracks for most of the Kruser run, and got first chair of the day on Jeff Flood.

We did the four major runs on Flood, and then headed up to the Magic Mile.  Lo and behold, what we hit up top was not ice but instead soft, crispy, confectioner’s sugar snow over hardpack.  Deep enough to flow out of the way without icy patches that require the skier to dig in edges.  Easy stuff to bash through.  We had two good runs and then the clouds blew in.  We’d planned to do the easternmost run, but the clouds socked us in and we went down the main east run, as it’s easier to do when Braille skiing anyway.  Then the clouds cleared away and we did two runs down that side.  It’s a little bit different and has a couple of interesting pitches which run more toward the east rather than to the west, like most of the rest of Timberline.

Ten runs in all.  Crisp and a real delightful ski day.  No falls, nothing tweaked.  Just nice, steady runs without drama, stunning sharp vistas up high, and soft snow underfoot.

Doesn’t get much better than this.

Comments Off on Ski day # 11–the joys of wax

Filed under ski bum life

OMG! Forgot Ski Day #10!

Yeah, I  know.  Y’all don’t wanna hear about skiing.

Too bad.  You’re gonna hear about skiing.

So Friday was ski day number ten this season.  Not too great for February 10 to only be the tenth day, even if I’m only skiing weekends.  But that’s just a reflection of the sort of season it’s been.

Day 10 was decent enough.  I was able to park right next to the Day Lodge and get some interesting shots.  Not a bluebird day…rather one of those moody, wispy fog days that turned to first rain and then snow.

Kind of like this:

And this:

Turned into this:

All the same it was around 36 degrees F and a mix of rain and snow showers.  For the first hour I had the runs on Jeff Flood to myself and got four solid turns in on Kruser, Uncle Jon’s Band, Jojami and Brother Beau.  A nice relaxed set of runs with photo ops.

Folks started showing up after ten o’clock.  I got three more runs in on Kruser, UJB and Jojami, and by then it was ten-thirty, lines starting to form, and time to head down the Mountain to work.  Nonetheless it was a nice quiet morning with moody fog wisps, fast but slushy snow, and I got to happily bomb down that last pitch into the Flood chair.

I even passed folks.  Me.  The slow skier.  Passing people.

Granted, it was lousy conditions in some respects.  Before I left the lodge I was yakking with the Ski Patrol associate hanging out to check in with folks before they headed out.  We started talking about waxing our own skis (I’ve started doing my own wax, turning into ski geekess here), and opined that this would be a wax-stripping day.

Oh yeah.  At one point I looked down to see about a quarter-inch of ice hanging off my inside edges.  When I see that, I know that means I need a wax job at the end of the day.  Instead of dropping off my skis, though, I hauled them home, wiped, cleaned and waxed last night.  Winced at the level of stripping.  In past seasons, I’d probably have skied one more day, then dropped them off for waxing.  Instead, this evening after last night’s waxing, I spent a half hour scraping and buffing.

OMG.  I am so turning into a ski geek.

I even came up with a Netwalk’s Children backstory vignette idea tonight while scraping and buffing my skis.  Might even write and post it tomorrow–unlikely it’ll ever make it into the book, but it’s a nice little backstory setting mood piece.

That is, Melanie resorts to old-fashioned waxing, scraping and buffing of her skis when she wants to think about stuff.  And guess what…the children she’s helped raise do that too.

Yeah.  I might just do that.  Tomorrow.

Comments Off on OMG! Forgot Ski Day #10!

Filed under ski bum life

Ski day #9….Let the February Skimarch begin……and the Netwalk jacket!

Okay, it appears to be in the cards that we’re doomed to have bluebird ski weather.  I may be forced to embark upon a February Ski Death March, absolutely forced to try to ski three times a week for the next few weeks.  It’s my doom.  I swear, I’m doomed.

DOOMED, I tell ‘ya.  Life is so freakin’ hard on a day like this….NOT!

So.  Yeah.  It was 28 degrees F and absolutely much, much better than Friday, if that could be at all possible.  The snow was firm, crisp and fast.  DH and I did a quick run down Kruser, then down Jojami and Uncle Jon’s Band.  Fast runs for us…we’d finished the third run by 9:25 (keep in mind the lift takes ten minutes from bottom to top).  Even with starting ten minutes before 9 am, it was still pretty decent.

The trees were nice but I had my eye on the Mile, so we went up.  DH suggested we ski down Kruser from the top of the Mile, so we did.  Twice.  Two two-mile long runs.  And a whole new perspective on the slope.

The last run was on what we think is the original Magic Mile, just to the east of Silcox Hut.  It’s a nice little run with some rolling pitches.

A gorgeous day.  Ten miles and six runs (unless you count the Kruser run as two runs).

And I finally got a pic of me in my Netwalk jacket.  It has a story, of course.  I bought this jacket at the ski show this fall, but I was looking at the color and not the design.  It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I looked at the design and realized…it was kind of a pixel design.  I hadn’t noticed it before.  Nice pic, but dang am I starting to show my age.  Sigh.

Well, I guess I am older than Madonna.  But still…..

Comments Off on Ski day #9….Let the February Skimarch begin……and the Netwalk jacket!

Filed under ski bum life

Ski Day #8–Bluebird Mile Day!

Yes.  FINALLY.  I think this is one of the latest dates I’ve had for getting up on the Magic Mile in a ski season.  Between health/back/weather, it’s taken until now to get up there…but oh yes, it was worth it.

Yesterday was a spring skiing type of day.  Temperature inversion so that the higher up I went, the warmer it got, even with a stiff east wind.  However, this time the western valleys were clear:

(okay, a bit hazy.  But still, no fog).

The eastern valleys, though?

I swear, I didn’t know that Central Oregon got this much fog until I started skiing.

Started out my day skiing in the trees.  Icy at first, and I wondered if I’d overwaxed my skis and hadn’t removed enough of it in the scraping and buffing process.  Then I decided, once things didn’t change after a run (even on the iciest days, if it’s the wax one run will change things), that maybe it was the conditions and just stopped worrying about it, continuing to ski conservatively.  It was pretty enough down in the trees:

and there was no wind to speak of.  But early in the morning it was slick and icy, and I kept looking up at this:

and wanting to be up on the open slopes in the sunshine.  Finally I told myself “One test run,” and went up.

And oh, it was so worth it.  The surface wasn’t the greatest in the world.  It was icy mashed potato lumps.  Not much snow over the wind-scoured ice, certainly not enough yet to settle in between the iced snowdrifts that I discovered in lower snow last year, but still eminently skiable.  And it was the Mile.  Up on top of Oregon, higher than most other points around, lots of gorgeous scenery AND NO ONE ELSE UP THERE!  Only a handful of us were riding the Mile.  Of course, given the lack of trees and the wide openness of the run, it’s possible to have a lot of wide open space on the Mile once there’s enough snow.

There was wind.  I got chilled but not cold.  The new ski jacket passed the windy Mile day test because while I got chilled on the ten minute ride up, I didn’t get cold.  The jacket fits snugly and keeps me warm.  The wind kept a lot of people off the Mile but hey, I’ve experienced worse.  It was strong enough to buffet me around when I had my back to it, even skiing downhill and not across the slope (there’s been more than a few times since I’ve lost weight that I’ve gotten off the chair, turned left, and had to dig my edges in to keep from skating across the flat when the wind caught me).  But it was not bad.

Of course, after that one December day last season, where I shivered up the lift, got off at the top, looked at the solid sheet of wind-carved ice in front of me and realized This Is A Bad Idea, my standards have changed somewhat.

So it was a gorgeous ski day.  I got four runs in on the Mile, a Kruser run and a Jojami run.  My back and hip started talking to me after the sixth run and the clock was running out, so I skied back to the lodge, changed out of my gear, and went to work.  Had an extremely pleasant First Friday with friends after work, then came home.  Sweetness.

And now, off to the ORELA.  Bleh.  But probably skiing tomorrow, and horse this afternoon (once we get sandbags made up for the renter to have in case of flooding later on this season).  Going to be a busy weekend.

No rest for the wicked.  But that’s the way it is.

Comments Off on Ski Day #8–Bluebird Mile Day!

Filed under ski bum life

Ski Day #7–Holding Steady

So over this past week of wild weather in the Pacific Northwest, Timberline’s managed to pick up over 40 more inches of snow.  That puts the local snowpack at around 80% of normal, which is a very good thing, not just for skiers but for the entire region.  While the west side of the Cascades soaks up water for ten months out of the year, without that snowpack in the mountains, the water situation on both sides of the mountains gets dicey in summer weather.  We dry out fast and, because of the winter/spring damp, we get lots of vegetation.  Not enough winter snow=high potential of fire in summer.  Bad fire.

But that gets into forest management blatherings, which is a totally different and opinionated subject.  Back to skiing!

The conditions on Sunday were heavy, wet powder.  Wet powder?  Yeah, that’s a western Cascades (and probably Sierra) standard.  The flake size is fine and granular like the drier powder that flies up, but it’s a wetter flake and, as a consequence, a heavier flake.  It’s produced when the temperatures are just below the freezing point.  Dry powder comes in the Cascades when the temps are in the high teens/low twenties (Fahrenheit).

Ski result?  Skiing in fine, dry powder is like skiing in powdered sugar.  It’s soft, gives easily underfoot, pushes away from the ski easily without holding its shape.  It’s lovely stuff to ski on a bright crisp bluebird morning high above the tree line, up at 7000 feet. After a couple of hours skiing dry powder you can pull off your skis, and the wax job still looks good, if not still pristine.

Skiing wet powder happens during storms.  It’s soft and fine-grained like the dry powder, but it doesn’t flow as easily.  It compresses easily and holds a shape.  A lot of times it lies over ice, and pushes away just easily enough for the skier to rasp across the top of the icy patch on a steep slope, then ram right into the heavier pillow of snow below the patch.  Skiing a hillside in that condition is best done earlier in the morning, before other skiers have beaten it down to ice.  Unless you really like ice.  I don’t, at least not water-slick ice.

So yesterday we had wet powder, falling heavily.  The fine flakes were wet enough to crust up on my goggles when I was skiing directly into the wind.  The early runs were nice, if heavy underfoot, though the last pitch of Uncle Jon’s Band turned to scraped ice early on.  DH and I negotiated that pitch nicely but we took our time, waiting for less-experienced skiers/boarders or more aggressive out-of-control skiers to clear out of the way.  Timberline’s clearly marked an alternative with a big EASY WAY sign, but still there’s folks attempting that pitch who aren’t ready for it.  I don’t mind the slow, careful skier who traverses from side to side (though the snowboarder who sideslips the whole way is annoying because that creates nasty ice patches, oh well), but the crazies who careen out of control unthinkingly are different.

Luckily I don’t see too many of those.

It’s Family Season, which means there’s a lot of kids, lessons, and family groups out skiing.  The dynamic of a ski season is interesting to watch.  Before mid-December, those of us out on the slopes are the die-hards and ski bums out for the solitary thrill.  From mid-December through the end of February, families descend on the slopes.  They cluster in flocks of four or more.  Most of the families have good etiquette–they’re out there for the experience, they’re patient with their weakest skiers, they don’t yell at their families or shove and push in the lift line without regard for other groupings.  Their kids usually are grinning and having fun (in part because this family is sensible and plans for short periods of the slopes when the kids are little, extending gradually).  They’ll split out their group in the lift line if there’s too many of them for one chair and have prearranged meeting sites or coordinate electronically.  If there’s a wide skill range, they don’t try to keep everyone together but split up with check-in points.

Then there are the others.  The parent (usually a father) who overfaces a young and timid kid on a tough slope and yells uselessly while the kid fights his way down (it’s usually a father-son dynamic).  The parents who don’t switch off slope time with lodge time to manage young kids and snarl at the crying, unhappy results.  The mother who screams across the lift line at the spouse who’s gone into the singles line so he can get to the top and wait for them (or not), then pushes ahead of everyone she can get her kids to shove by as much as she can.  The group that flails cluelessly down a slope above the level of most of the family, terrorizing all in their way and ignoring the rule that downhill skiers have the right of way.

Luckily, there aren’t that many of those folks, but one group of those can sure make it seem like there’s a lot of them.

The lesson groups are fun to watch, especially the under-fives.  It’s fun to watch two blue-coated instructors with a line of seven teensy-tinies, all consciously working on “pizza, french fries, pizza, french fries” down gentle slope lines.  We passed one group going down Kruser on our last run.  The head small, a teensy little girl, lost control and couldn’t stop as I passed them.  I heard the instructor hollering at the kid and I kept an eye on her (she was on my left side).  Normally, I’d have turned in that one area because it’s a rather steep little rolling hollow, but if I’d turned, I’d have risked running her over (could have avoided her but it would have been nervous-making).  So I straight-lined it since a turn was a speed-management convenience.  There would be a spot where we’d potentially intersect, but I knew I could stop and be in a position to help her stop if need be (several years night skiing with the school kids has taught me a few things).  But I didn’t need to.  She got herself stopped before that point, had a little bit of a thrill, but no harm done.

Seven runs, two hours.  Nice ski day.  We’re both getting our legs back after the Junecember/Junuary interlude.  Hope it remains wintry for a while.

Comments Off on Ski Day #7–Holding Steady

Filed under ski bum life