Tag Archives: snow

Coming Home Over The Mountains

My return journey from Chelan brought me over Stevens Pass on a sunny day.  I had a schedule to get back for another meeting so wasn’t able to loiter too much but I still managed to take a few minutes out to stop and grab a couple of shots.  There aren’t many places to stop going over Stevens Pass but, coming down from the summit heading west, there is a pull out and so I made my first use of that.  I also stopped coming in to Index to grab a snack from the coffee hut there which has a nice view of Mount Index.

Cascades In The Clouds

Snowy Cascades shots are pretty but I was shooting from an airliner on my way for a work trip and the mountains were sitting amongst the clouds.  Getting a good shot from a plane of a white subject when contrast is not going to be great is a risk but this came out better than I expected.  It won’t be too long before the snow is melted and we shall have to wait for half a year to get something like this again.

Socks For My Tires

The snow that stopped our trip to Cannon Beach was heavy over the hills and it required traction devices in order to be allowed on the road.  Since we didn’t have winter tires, I went shopping for some chains.  Unfortunately, they weren’t available in the size of my wheels and the clearances were not great.  However, I was introduced to something I had never heard of before.  They had chains, cables and socks.  I knew of chains, of course, and cables are just a version of chains but with (don’t be surprised) cables.  Socks are a more recent addition to the range.

They are a legal alternative and actually provide as good or better traction than chains.  They are a fabric covering for the tire.  One side has straps that go across the outside and an elasticated band is on the inside.  You hook them over the tire and pull down as much as you can and then roll the car forward half a turn to finish pulling them in to place.  Removal is the opposite.

They were actually pretty easy to use and, after a short bit of driving, I stopped to check them and they had actually self-aligned straightening out any unevenness.  They worked a treat.  Traction and braking were not a problem.  I was worried about their durability but maintaining the speed limit of 25mph for the 40 or so miles we drove caused no issues and they look just fine after removal.  I imagine that they don’t have the durability of chains so regular use would suggest chains as a better option but as an occasional requirement, they worked great.

Driving Across The Hills In The Snow

Our trip to Cannon Beach got delayed a day by snow on the hills which you have to cross to get to the Oregon coastline.  When we did make the crossing, not only were we properly equipped (as shall be seen in another post) but the weather was transformed.  The sun was out, and it looked picturesque.  The snow was still heavy on the trees and the hillsides while the road was compacted snow.  Consequently, it was white everywhere.  We were on a major road that would normally be traversed at speed but, due to the traction devices fitted, we were limited to 25mph.  It made the crossing pretty protracted, but it did provide ample time to look around and see the scenery – and the occasional vehicle off the road!

Snowy Weekend in Woodinville

It seems like we get one big snow storm a year where we live.  It might not last long (although it has once) but it can give us a decent dump of snow.  This year was the same thing.  We got about a foot of snow.  The weather warmed up soon afterwards but for a couple of days, we had lots of snow.  I took a walk around to see what it was like.  Quite a slow walk given how deep the snow was in places.  Here are some shots from that weekend.  I also took some video while I was out so the video clip is below too.  The best bit was the guy with the ATV pulling a bunch of people around on sleds!  They looked like they were having a blast.

 

Leavenworth Waterfront Park

On the way in to Leavenworth, I took a side street looking for a good parking option.  As we drove along this road, it took us close to the river and a sign for the waterfront park.  I had no idea about this park previously so we decided to check it out after walking through the town for a while.  Turns out it is a great set of trails that run along the river.  There are a couple of islands with bridges between them connecting everything together to make the park.

Each of the islands has a choice of trails so you don’t have to go out and back but can vary your route.  The ground was a bit icy underfoot in places but generally it was clear and plenty of people were out enjoying the views.  The river is to the south of the park while there are inlets around the islands formed as the water constantly changes the landscape.  There were also signs talking about the history of the area.  A stretch of wooden piles were arrayed out in to the river at what I assume was once a loading pier.  The lumber business was once dominant in the area.

Wenatchee River Valley in Fall

Having made our first stop at Lake Wenatchee State Park, we continued on in the direction of Leavenworth.  The highway takes you down a river valley with the Wenatchee River at its core.  This is a pretty drive at any time of year and the many pull offs are often filled with people stopping off the enjoy the view.  A colder fall day meant it was slightly less busy but it also meant deeper shadows.  Still, there were plenty of people enjoying the scenery, even if they weren’t getting out of the cars for too long.

Having written about whether HDR is still worthwhile in a recent post, the shaded valley was something that I figured was still possibly needing a technique that could handle a wide dynamic range.  Other spots were still in open light and were an easier bet.  The difficulty of a valley like this is communicating the feeling within the rocky walls.  Wider lenses allow you to show more of the scene but they also diminish the scale and I find it hard to give the impression you get when actually there.  I actually spent some time with a longer lens picking out details of the scenes rather than the whole thing but I wasn’t going to give up on that completely.

 

Lake Wenatchee in the Snow

Sometimes trips that are set up with something specific in mind end up delivering something totally different.  We knew it was a little late but planned a trip up into the Cascades with the aim of checking out the fall colors.  We went up towards Stevens Pass but rapidly realized that, while there was some color in the trees, the more important issue was the amount of snow on the ground.  The temperatures up in the pass were well below freezing and the ice across the highway was something that focused the mind.

We were heading for Lake Wenatchee State Park and the park was certainly a lot more snowy than we expected.  It has a north and a south entrance and, having not been there before, we headed to the north entrance first.  It turned out that this was mainly the campground and heading around the roadway which was pretty snowy got us nowhere interesting.  A reversal of course and we tried the south entrance which was far more productive.  It took us down to the edge of the lake and a wonderful vista.  The combination of blue skies, a lake, snow and some tree colors was beautiful.  While the air temperature was low, there was no wind.  Consequently, it was quite comfortable.  Add in the lack of other people and you felt like you had discovered something special.

Our original plan had been to walk along the trails in this part of the park.  However, the depth of the snow was not something we had brought boots for so that was not going to happen.  Instead we stayed in the area near the parking lot and enjoyed the views across the water before retreating to the car with its plentiful heat!

Snow Shed Remains

Our hike on the Iron Goat Trail was more than just exercise.  It proved to be quite an educational experience.  There were many relics of the old railroad and a lot of signs telling the tale of how the railroad was built and why it was abandoned later.  The Cascades get a lot of snow and in the early 20th century, the snow depths in winter were a lot more than they are now.  It was not uncommon to get 15-20 feet of snow along this part of the alignment in those days.

This snow caused trouble with avalanches as a result of the amount of trees that had been cut for timber when building the railway.  Landslides were also a problem in other seasons.  To protect from the snow, sheds were built over the track at places most vulnerable to avalanche.  This practice is continued to this day in the mountainous areas of US railroads.

These snow sheds had a reinforced concrete wall on the uphill side.  A timber structure was then built out over the track to provide cover with concrete bases for the supporting timbers on the downhill side of the structure.  Most of the timbers have either been removed for reuse or have decayed after a century up on the mountainside.  The concrete walls are still in reasonable shape.  Some spalling of the concrete has occurred but otherwise they look solid.  A lot of plant life has grown over them and they do have water cascading over the top in many places.  The bases for the timber supports are still visible in many places.

There are many of these sections along the trail.  The first one you come across is quite a surprise but, after you have seen a few of them, they start to be normal when you get to another section.  They are pretty large structures though.

Sun on The Snowy Mountains

The ferry ride from Swartz Bay back to Tsawwassen was on a day that wasn’t particularly nice weather wise.  And we emerged in to the open water from the islands, I was wandering about with the camera.  The view to the mountains north of Vancouver opened up and they were in clear sunlight with the snow reflecting the warm winter light beautifully.  It was a distant shot but a panorama seemed to be a good idea.  Everyone on the boat seemed to be taking notice and plenty of people came out on deck to take their photos.