Saturday, March 31, 2012

It's one of the best kinds


Forecaster and Poet

This is what I mean...  a gem.  This time from the Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center..
Weather Synopsis for Friday and Saturday

The last week of March, the first full week of spring—
How much more rain, wind and snow can it all bring?
Winter effects are not over, despite what calendars say—
So don’t have a mantra of ride, hope and pray.
Dense wind slabs abound on slopes Northwest  thru East—
And cornices loom large like huge snowy beasts.
A stalled storm to the south is pouring rain and snow forth—
With slightly less precip in the central and north—
But the storm lifts north Saturday, & this should add to the load—
Making safe back country travel a very difficult road.
So before you go out, wherever you go—
Take some time to assess the state of the snow.
For slides don’t know whether you’re expert or not—
And don’t really give it a whole lot of thought. 

Overall, a rather messy and rapidly changing weather situation is expected over the next several days in the region, with some widely fluctuating freezing levels in the south and central, intermittently strong winds and periods of moderate to heavy precipitation ...especially in the south and central.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Ski area humour

Main Lot     Boat parking now closed due to a switch from rain to snow.
Every day I look at all the different snow and avalanche reports from all over western Canada and the PNW, because I love scrutinizing the snow and avalanche conditions reports.  Sometimes I find gems such as the one above...  this is one of the honest reports from the Mt Hood area.
All we needed was just a couple degrees cooler and that was supposed to happen later this morning.  It appeared to be warmer in the south than the north... so we were hopeful the pass was half-way decent, because I was  too lazy this morning to drive a much further distance to a higher elevation.

What we found was snow that was a little intense and offered us adventure.  Serious blue snow and deep taffy powder that solidified after the skis touched.  If a skier can can ski these kind of snow conditions, the skier can pretty much ski anywhere.  Avalanche control was booming first thing in the morning and I suspect bringing everything down.  
So after a little investigation, we decided to go home to avoid breaking a leg or throwing an ACL. We proved to ourselves that we could ski it and weren't desperate enough to risk injury.  Now I get to watch the final season of Nip and Tuck.  And that's not a ski movie...  
We should have brought out water skis
Snow can be creepy at times

Thursday, March 29, 2012

La Nina continues - avalanche control

Snoqualmie Pass on I-90  Updated: 8:01 AM, Mar 29, 2012
Pass Report
33ºF / 1ºC
3022 feet / 921 meters
Traffic stopped for avalanche control
Compact snow, slush and ice on the roadway. Avalanche control work is complete. Westbound traffic has been released and is now moving. Eastbound traffic remains stopped at milepost 47, near Denny Creek, and milepost 56, near Gold Creek, while clean up continues.
WEATHER:  Snowing, hard at time with poor visibility  

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Tree and River Meditation

"I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way they have to live than other things do" - Willa Cather

I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order - John Burroughs

God is the experience of looking at a tree and saying, "Ah" " - Joseph Campbell

No one can see their reflection in running water.  It is only in still water that we can see. - Taoist proverb

We are living

Monday, March 26, 2012

Don't give your dog Aleve

You've been hearing about all the good adventures, now it's time to give a warning about an adventure you don't want.  A trip to the animal hospital.  My dog's back was hurting, so I wanted to give him something for pain relief. What a naive mistake to not consult a vet. I made the shameful mistake of giving my dog Aleve which turns out to be highly toxic to dogs (and cats).
So I ended up taking him to the hospital because he was sick from it. The vet said she wished they would put it on warning labels on it because it apparently happens all the time.  Every layperson I've talked to so far, had no idea about it so I'm putting the word out.

I wish I had done something different.  It would have been so much better to get appropriate pain medication to make him more comfortable and not do it the way I did. I have no idea why I a smart person like me didn't look it up on the internet, total self-will on my part, me thinking I know without knowing squat...  Someone told me we just treat our dogs like family - the human he is - not that it's an excuse but I liked that rationalization.  I love my dog and did not purposely mean to hurt him.  But trying to save some money on a vet visit multiplied into a small fortune with the poor dog having to take the brunt of it.  He shouldn't have to pay for my mistake.

I'm going to quit beating myself up.  When I visited him today, he didn't have any hard feelings, he just didn't understand why he couldn't come home with us.

Live and learn.  I just hope people who read this learn from my mistake. Don't give your dog Aleve.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Making peace between Iran and Israel

This is how the internet can be a very good thing.  That's when regular normal people can put out messages, "Hey, we don't want to bomb you."

Last weekend an Israeli couple posted to facebook a message to Iranians saying "We Love You". After it was posted, they got a response immediately. Click on the video and let Rony tell the story.

Now less than a week later I find out about it from someone living in Canada and now I share it with you.
I also learned that it is illegal to even have a facebook account in Iran and all these people are doing it sending responses back to Rony!

Pass on the Peace.   It started between people who don't know each other and decided to meet each other on facebook and communicate. Social media is creating Nobel peace prize winners!

Music Recommendation Extraordinaire

Last night Mark and I experienced one of the best aspects of Pacific NW culture.  A House Concert.  That's where you get invited into someone's home for a live performance of music.  Anyway, I have had the opportunity to listen to the band before and I wasn't going to miss it despite a pretty full week on non-stop ski activity (just say no to being tired!).  Thank you David and Eve for opening your house to us.
She has a great webiste
Rita Hosking is a terrific storyteller and very talented songwriter plus she has a great band.  They are amazingly tight and polished.    I was particularly impressed by a song titled "Ballad for the Gulf of Mexico.  She was a semi-finalist out of over 16,000 international entried in the 2011 International Songwriting Contest with this song.  The genre category was Americana.  I also really enjoyed listening to the lyrics of "Little Joe".  They sang acapella and played instrumental as well, telling jokes and working the crowd.

The reason why I want to blog about it, is that I think Rita Hoskings and her crew has the ability to make it to the BIG TIME and with a little bit more publicity and social media help, their music is so incredibly infectious maybe they can headline large venues in the next year or so.  Alison Kraus and Union Station watch out...
Ritas facebook link

I would like to help them get the recognition they need.  Since we have blog followers and suscribers from North America, Australia, New Zealand and Russian I'm sure their POPULARITY will surge.  (YES) To listen to her music click here and and here. And if you can get an opportunity to listen to them live, by all means make the effort, they are touring the west coast right now.  You will not regret it. 

I am streaming the music as I write this.  It is happy music and heartwarming on any day of the year.

Dreaming of Sking

When I was in middle school I got to learn how to ski (thanks to you mom and dad.)  I would eagerly wait for school to end so I could hop on a yellow school bus and get driven to Snoqualmie Summit where I would get my rentals and take a one hour class and freeski for the rest of the night.  I never remember it raining. 

It was an after school program called Ski-attle that took us up there and got us back by 11 pm when my dad would pick me up.  I have fond memories of dreaming all night of skiing after those ski weeknight getaways, and I was always dog tired and completely satisfied.  Not much has changed after a good session of skiing.   Zzzzz.....

Thursday, March 22, 2012

My kind of spring

On a big fatty powder cloud

Phenomenal day today skiing with low density snow, 18 inches was reported but in some places much deeper and the snow was incredibly forgiving. I just needed to make sure I was zipped up or the snow flew down my chest.  I had one little sluff that took my right ski down and I was trapped in a lot of deep snow.  It wasn't an avalanche avalanche but it gave me the impression that I'd be totally screwed if it were.  The little bit of snow I was caught in was definitely taking my ski down with it!  Mark didn't see it as he was on top of the incline but he watched me struggle to free myself.  I'm glad that I now always ski with someone else and we carry the gear in case of an emergency.

Some guy yelled at us if we had "gone to Chair Peak".  When I said no, he said "Well your packs are pretty big." Oh well, in case something happens it's nice to have some equipment to perhaps be useful instead of helpless and incredibly stupid.  Familiarity is a big crux move in risk evaluation in avalanche terrain and I think a lot of people who ski Alpental fall into that trap.  They treat it like it's their backcountry playground where they make up the rules - nature doesn't really care about what we as snow sliders "think we know."  I can't outsmart an avalanche or a terrain hazard such as a cliff.
We particularly appreciated the patrol digging out Chair 2 so we didn't have to hold our legs straight out and carry our skis in our laps.  
At Nash gate it was a little interesting with the line up.  We were patient and waited for the ski patrol to open it.  It was especially difficult for those people who had to go back to work as it didn't open until after noon time.  
Mark and I were able to ski all day.  At first the crowd was a little obnoxious,  One guy called it the "I-5 traffic mentality" but  I think it's just a bunch of testosterone dreaming hero turns in a Warren Miller Film.  I use a little cultural anthropology research to keep me interested in the skier dynamics of lift lines or interview them about what they do outside of skiing. 

Today I met an astronomer who gets to work on projects from the Hubble Space Telescope. He said he's got the coolest job in the world looking for universes.  He didn't know about the annular eclipse though May 20th, but I'm sure he knew lots of other cool stuff. 

I practiced my loving attitude and allowed the working stiff to move forward while I maintained my powder serenity.  There was plenty of snow to go around, no need to feel like there was a shortage and we had fresh turns every run.  

All in all a perfect powder day. 
I'm looking forward to skiing tomorrow if I get to be so lucky. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Happy Equinox

Spring is awesome

Snow Chance for Measurable Precipitation 100%

Hi 34 °F
Snow Chance for Measurable Precipitation 80%

Lo 26 °F
Snow Chance for Measurable Precipitation 90%

Hi 35 °F

Snow Chance for Measurable Precipitation 90%

Lo 26 °F
Snow Likely Chance for Measurable Precipitation 70%
Hi 36 °F

Chance Snow Chance for Measurable Precipitation 40%
Lo 26 °F
Mostly Cloudy
Hi 37 °F

Monday, March 19, 2012

Unsettled springtime in the mtns

LOTS of other skiers agree with me, but powder is guaranteed by "earning turns!"
It was a lovely and beautiful day today being a ski bum. Working on the facial tan.  Two smaller storm systems are predicted to roll through that could bring one to two feet.  If only we could be so lucky. Bring it on!
We could use more snow - this picture is looking down at the sign attached to a post.  It might as well just be buried and then nobody has to dig it out.

Tomorrow is the first day of spring. Love the lengthening days and flower surprises in the garden.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Two funny ski bum videos

Turn here     (turn = "click link" in ski bum language)

       and turn

Ski bums today!

Portland Time Out

I went to Oregon to attend the Oregon NASW Conference and hung out all day with really dedicated social workers.  There was a great luncheon keynote by the NASW national director.  It wasn't nice to hear about social problems but it was great to learn about solutions being developed and implemented to help solve them.                                                                                                                                              
Portland was in full fledge springime...
Bikes, biodiesel, wind generators, dedicated bike lanes, solar panels, free seeds for growing food, mandate for light-rail down the Seattle-Pdx corridor, the Pdx MAX, wind generators, organic food, progressive politics, tattoos, CSA's (community supported agriculture) and pink and blue hair.  Very fashionable city with lots going on working towards sustainability. 
Rode the Cascade Train down to Pdx from Seattle.  SOLD OUT! 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Jordon Micheal at New Seasons

This gentleman is desiring a blog where he can talk about food and cooking... I think he's almost there... I told him I'd host him on mine.

St Patricks Day in Pdx

Brenda is schooling me in St. Paddy's! Green head halos for the princess (No, I'm not able to show up as a Snow Queen), live Irish music, green clothes (what else is new?), and Irish kid dancing coming up in the gym.  What more can a Irish-wanna be on March 17th want?  This is St. Paddy Heaven!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Storm Skiing - Pray for low freezing levels!

"Storm skiing is the best!" 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

It is a good time to stay within the boundaries of a ski resort.

 Groomers are not our friends on a powder day...

This is the newest snow product I've seen recently - not so new, snowskating- rode up with a guy whose girlfriend is a professional snow skater.  She's Randi Rettke for Pioneer and she placed first in a huge race in Tahoe earlier this month.  I hope to be seeing her win gold in the Olympics.  
For more on this sport, here is a good  blog I'm going to follow.

Poaching the line is a "dead end" - literally

What's really a sad and discouraging event is all the riders/skiers ducking (crossing a closed boundary) the rope lines on top of Elevator Shaft today.  Very disheartening to witness as the avy risk was quite high with the deep snow depth and wind slab.  Besides there was plenty of good lines inbounds.  We didn't quite need a regulator like this guy did at Crystal, but it was pretty darn good for snorkeling.

I would like to ask Boyne to put some additional effort into enforcement - that is an effort to pay people to catch these folks and pull some tickets.  At least make examples of a few people so the rope lines are taken seriously.  It's actually a $1,000 fine and a person is guilty of a misdemeanor if the person knowingly skis in an area or on a ski trail, owned or controlled by a ski area operator, that is closed to the public and that has signs posted indicating the closure.  Maybe a lot of skiers don't know that or maybe they just don't care when there is two feet of powder and they can feel like they're in a Warren Miller or Teton Films movie.  It's what the day felt like all day inbounds!

Maybe what is happening is that people (locals) are very comfortable with the terrain, have no or a disrespect for avalanche education and figure that they've gotten away with it before.  A lot of people probably just don't want to be told what to do.  But on a day like today or the warming days predicted to be coming up, it's going to be a very high risk poaching the closed lines.

Personally, if I was the snow queen to make all these important decisions I'd fine them (money to go to avalanche education training scholarships), give them a misdemeanor AND I'd also ask them sit through avalanche education classes in order to get their passes back.  Perhaps with more education they would realize that the pro patrol has the areas CLOSED for a reason.
The end of the day for a ski bum - lucky dogs

Monday, March 12, 2012

Winter driving in the USA

It's snowing again (yay! Skiing!) But the drivers here don't slow down, so some of them go off the road (if they're lucky enough not to crash into another vehicle), so the highway gets closed (boo! No skiing for us!) And we end up waiting in the truck which isn't as fun as a lift line. Bummer.
It's odd that they sometimes require chains on all vehicles except all wheel drive, but if you have all wheel drive, you're supposed to have "traction tires", but we saw plenty of all wheel drive vehicles spun out on the way up.  Chain enforcement consists of the state patrol slowing everyone down and waving cars and trucks through.  They need to be writing some tickets as well...

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sunday NW Quanch

Now THIS is what a lift line should look like on a Sunday!
The skiing was classic NW powder - thick, thick and thick.  The skiing was fun and very few people were skiing the quanch, except for the locals. And they all went into the backcountry I guess.  I skied by myself, except for three runs with Scott through Snake Dance.  I met up with Mark and we headed over to Ski Acres (Summit Central) to visit my "ski niece" Karina and her mom Charlotte.  Mark needed to make a few more turns practicing his sine curves and upper lower body separation. He came back whole.
Karina won the race against me - notice the  face
But Karina didn't win the race against the hot chocolate before it spilled - bummer
And now it's a freezing level of 1,000' and it's supposed to dump 1-2 feet - snowing in North Bend right now.  Too bad Karina has to go to pre-kindergarten.  

I'm really glad I am a ski bum and don't have to go to pre-kindergarten.  

Karina is jealous.