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Snowshoeing out of Icycle Creek near Leavenworth

 

This is just a short drive out of Leavenworth. My two friends and I had a great weekend in a rental condo there. Snuggling up with hot drinks in the evenings, taking a leisurely morning, watching the mists rise in the morning. We were pleasantly surprised with mostly sunny weather, as the weather report had been kind of gloomy for the weekend.

On Sunday afternoon we did some fun wine-tasting at Icycle Ridge Winery. They have a beautifully made wonderful log-cabin lodge. There were a few too many stuffed deer, wild cats, bears, and turkeys for my taste, but still, the place was beautiful, the wines were great, and the people were very nice.

Dead bear decoration and deer heads - kinda weird, but fit the area.

Icycle creek at Leavenworth
Icycle creek at Leavenworth

There were about 6-12 inches of snow under the bare fruit trees and wine vines. The hills surrounding the winery were lightly coated with snow, and a river flowed nearby. Beautiful!

On Sunday morning (yes, I know, I’m not in chronological order here) I attempted cross-country skiing. I don’t know if I am more interested in the sport, or kind of discouraged. The trouble with snow is it is slippery. The trouble is me, is I am afraid of falling. Which I did every time I tried to go down a hill with any slope to it at all. I kept falling, and I don’t know if I was falling because I lost my balance, or because I was afraid of going too fast, and then falling.

It was all fun!

Hamster report

 

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Hey, we had our first snow this winter last night. Not at my house, but a few miles north, on my way to work. Just a “frosting” on everything, but it was cold enough to stick to tree branches and leaves. Pretty. I like snow, we never get enough here to be a serious problem, and it is pretty when it comes.

OK, the roadkill report:

  • Unidentified – 2
  • Mouse – 1

That’s it. I did see a weird thing early this week, in the street in front of my house. Well, a house to the west of mine. I backed out into the street and saw a really strange thing going on in my rear window.

A mouse was running in a tight circle in the middle of the street. I couldn’t believe the little swine was out in the daylight, and there were no cars coming, so I sat there for a minute or two, watching the little guy, thinking he would run off, or I’d see what was interesting him so much.

Mice - cute?

He never did run out of the street. Just kept doing his tight circles out there in plain sight of the neighborhood cats, dogs, raccoons, eagles, and the next car to come along. Weird. I’m thinking now maybe he’d eaten some poison or something and was going nuts. I suppose people put out poison for the mice.

By the way, he was a pretty big mouse. I wondered later if he could have been a rat, but I have seen city rats and he didn’t have that special “look”. You know, mice, in spite of being nasty little pests in one’s house, are kind of cute. Rats, not so much.

The only good rat is a dead rat
 

Hamster report

So there you go – just before the sun rose over the mountains, it shone on the underside of the clouds, creating these great colors. It is getting close to freezing at night now, and there was frost on the fields, as best I could see, whizzing by at 50 mph!

Reminds me of some winter mornings when I went snowshoeing with the Seattle Mountaineers, back in the late 1960’s. Hope to go snowshoeing again this winter. I’m not fond of driving on snow, so maybe I’ll wait till the highway is “bare and dry” or “bare and wet” before heading for the mountains.

Hamster report

Well, it snowed in April. I didn’t recall that it occassionally does this, but I checked and yes, in 2008 we got snow in April. This morning it stuck to the ground and “piled” up to about an inch, possibly less, depending on where you were standing.

A Camelia in snow in April

A Camelia in snow in April

I grabbed my camera and took a few pictures on my way out to the car. The drive to work was pretty, every tiny branch and every fir tree had a layer of white snow. It was all gone by 10 am, but it made the morning fun and unusual!

More Camelias in snow

More Camelias in snow!

I had fun at my archery practise last night. It was pouring down rain all the way to the practise place – I could hardly see the road due to the downpour and the road spray. Of course it didn’t slow down most of the drivers – they think they’re immortal, as they whiz by at 70 when the drivers can’t see far enough ahead to stop if they needed to. Idiots.

While shooting away at the target (still at 10 yards) I decided it might help to get a site for my bow. When shooting, I’m not sure what to look at to aim. As long as I’m in the gallery, I try to locate my bow at a certain distance from the bulles-eye, but my arm wobbles some, and the distance varies since I don’t have a definite point to sight on. So, next week, I’ll have the archery people put a site on my bow.

Blue flowers in the snow

Blue flowers in snow at the office

One more photo of the surprise snowfall on April 14th! There are little blue flowers peeking out through a layer of snow.

Hamster report

My dad used to do that annoying thing with his fingers and say “Can you hear that? It’s the sound of the world’s tiniest violin. Life is not fair, get over it.”

That fact has been ground into me from day one. What I have learned over the years is that people who are born rich or good-looking or talented in some way use that excuse “Life is not fair” to look down on those who were not born with their advantages and tell them that they just have to work harder. Like they did? Excuse me?

My point is, there are people who can go out in extreme conditions and enjoy themselves, when I have white, numb fingers when I am INSIDE my car and the temperature is 65.   The water in Puget Sound is around 44 degrees (F) all year round. At that temperature, hypothermia sets in in about 15 minutes. After that if no one rescues you, you are a goner.

Yesterday, when the outdoor temperature was about 50 and the wind was about 15 mph, this is what I saw people doing at the beach in Bellingham:

Kayaker carrying

Yes - kayaking

Sailboarder

Really, it's too cold for this

The next day I rode my bike 34 miles round trip from my house to the auto repair shop. The license plates and tabs for my car were expiring the next day. It rained for a couple of hours during this ride and it was windy. I was dressed for the weather, but my hands got cold as usual and some of my fingers went numb. 

Would I go windsurfing in this kind of weather? No, no, no, a thousand times no. Kayaking, maybe. Why can these guys stay warm and comforable in these conditions and I cannot?

Because life is not fair.

whimpering hamster.

I suspect it all depends on where the snow is.  Is it on the road and you have to get to work in 20 minutes?  Or is it on the trees and the trail, and you have a day to just walk among the snow covered trees?

Trailhead

Trailhead to Pine & Cedar Lakes

The trail

Pristine snow on the trail

I left early, as I like to get on the trail before other people show up.  I’m an early riser anyway, so no problem!  I was on the trail by 8:00 am, and my car was the only one in the parking lot.  It was so peacefull and completely gorgeous on this entire hike. 

My timing was perfect, as the temperature went up during the day. In fact, by the time I returned to the parking lot, it was raining at that elevation.  During my entire hike – 8 am to about 11:30, it was snowing on the trail.  You can see this in some of the photos, the snowflakes appear as big white balls when close to the camera! 

Ok, one more photo – I love these pictures!  I could have stayed all day in the snow, if I had a dry place to sit with a warm fireplace!

View point!

End of the trail view point!

Lake!

Frozen lake!

This trail goes uphill rather steeply for a couple of miles, then levels out for awhile. Then it drops down to the lake, and there is a trail around the lake.  For the view spot, the trail goes uphill for quite aways until it comes to a rock outcropping where you can see for many miles, when it is not snowing!

This was a wonderful day, with about a 4 1/2 mile hike in the snow.  Awesome!

Hamster report

Snowy rock

Snowy rock

So there ya go! Yes, we have had more snow.  And no, not like you northeaserners.  Our snow is civilized and pleasant.  3″ at my house, and I live at 450 feet, so I got more than other places.

The really unusual thing for here is, the temp got down to the teens – it was just 15 degrees (F) this morning and the max today is supposed to be 22 F.  That’s cold.  It was very windy yesterday too, so the temp was in the low 20’s and the wind was doing about 10-15 mph, so it was COLD.  Besides, we usually have to drive up to Mt. Baker for this kind of weather.

Base of big Douglas Fir in my backyard

Snowy tree roots

So, both my cars were really low on gas, of course, when the snow and ice hit.  So since I am so susceptible to hypothermia, I dressed up as though I was going to take an Arctic trek; wool socks, boots, long underwear, hiking pants, down vest, winter coat, gloves and knit hat.  I drove to the gas station – and the freakin’ gas is now $3.65 around here, so I went to the cheapest station in town to get $3.25 a gallon gas.  I get out of the car and the wind is howling through the gas pumps and the wind chill must be down around 15.

I fill up, run inside and pay, and then jump back in my car and crank up the heater full blast!  My fingers had already turned white and numb – even with my gloves on.  Have I said I don’t do well in the cold?  It’s really creepy when you look at your fingers, and some of them are pink and healthy looking, and others are a yellowish-white and totally numb.  Thats from just 6 minutes in the cold, with gloves on. 

That is why I gave up glacier climbing.

Hamster report

Snowy field

Snowy field

Ok, for you northeasterners, that’s no big whuff.  Here, it is just plain weird, unusual, almost never happens.  Crap, I just checked the weather report and they are predicting up to 3 inches of snow, at 90% chance.  I drove my little front wheel car this morning, because I thought today would be like yesterday – a dusting of snow in the morning and that’s it. 

Snowy grass

Snowy grass

I may go home early today. They’re predicting another possible 3 inches tonight.  With wind gusts up to 50 mph.  And my awesome 4 wheel drive truck is sitting in my driveway.  Damn!

This snow is odd-looking.  Normally here we get wet, heavy snow.  Or for a few minutes it may come down in those tiny little flakes that look like dandruff.  That’s unusual because when it typically snows here, the temperature is warming up, so when the snow falls, it runs through the very cold, tiny dandruffy flakes and soon becomes the really big, wet stuff.  Not always, but that’s the usual pattern.

This snow looks like little tiny balls – like hail, but not quite.  The temperature is in the upper 20’s, so it is pretty cold.  I know the photos I’ve posted this morning show only a trace of snow, but I’ll update it when the big stuff hits.  Ha, ha, yes, we consider 3″ a lot of snow.  Don’t you wish that was all you got?

Unfortunately, like Seattle, we have a lot of hills. Not as much traffic, but to get from point A to point B, you will have to traverse a hill or two, and that can be just as impossible here as in Seattle, with 3″ of snow. 

Snowy road

Snowy road

I couldn’t find a list of significant snowfall in Bellingham on Feb 22, but Seattle is fairly close by and here is a list of previous February snows: “2001, 1994 (8-10″ in some foothill places), 1990, 1989 (big early Feb. snow and early Mar. snows), 1986, 1985, 1980, 1976, 1972, 1969, 1963, 1962, 1956, 1955, 1951, 1950, 1949, etc. It even snowed 16 inches on Valentines’ Day in 1923. Also 1916 had a Ground Hog’s Day snow of 26.5″! In 1884 there was a foot of snow on February 20 as well. And I guess the 10″ of snow March 1st/2nd, 1989 came a day late.

I’m totally blanking on all these February snows, I don’t remember any of them. I assume this guy knows what he is talking about.  I lived in Seattle for 54 years and it rarely snows there, period.  The reason snow is such a big topic there is all the hills.  You can’t get up or down a hill when there is even a 1/2″ of slippery snow on it. 

Anyway, now I’m stressing, wondering how I’ll get home if we get that 3” or more of snow by quitting time.  Like I said, I may go home early.  I have my boots in the car, I think … . I’m going to go check.  See ya’ll later.

Snow bound hamster report?

Squire lake morning

Squire Lake through the trees

The lake had thin ice in the areas still shaded at 9:30 in the morning.  I tried to take close ups of the ice, as it had a pretty curved pattern swirling in different directions, but the pics didn’t turn out too well.  The air was cold, still in the 30’s (F), but no wind.  Beautiful day.

Squire Lake reflections

Squire Lake reflections

The trail up to the lake is only about .4 miles, but then you can hike the loop around and also take a ridge trail.  There is a beaver pond a bit farther on, and I hiked up to it also, but didn’t see signs of any beaver.  Maybe they hibernate in the winter?  There was about a quarter inch of ice anyplace where the sun had not yet hit it.

Squire Lake frost

Squire Lake frost

It’s great to just get out and breath unfiltered mountain air.

Wild hamster

Ok, in my part of the country, a really bad winter gets us a few weeks of temperatures in the teens and 20’s (Farenheight), and a week or two of snow (never more than 12″).  We don’t have hurricanes, we don’t have tornadoes, and we don’t have blizzards.  If you are feeling irritated at our good fortune, I’ll let you in a  pretty well k nown secret: a great many people cannot handle our grey skies and drizzle.  I guess the biggest “problem” with our weather is, it is boring and kinda monotonous.  Not monotonous like sunny skies 300 days out of the year, monotonous like overcast, dark skies and drizzly rain 300 days out of the year. 

Now for me, I like this.  But then, I’m not normal.  What I’m writing about today is the extreme weather so much of the country is getting.  The non-believers in global warming (ie – climate change) caused by man think it will pass, as they think it is part of a weather pattern, with decades long patterns of colder, warmer, wetter, drier, etc., whatever.  Obviously, as you will see, I’m not one of the climate change deniers.

Obviously, not Mayor Bloomberg's street

Obviously, not Mayor Bloomberg's street

On the website, “Common Dreams.org”  David Sorota wrote an article on this topic “A Snowy Glimpse of America’s Future”.  He starts off with “Welcome to the new normal.”  A great opening sentence.  It seems that the combination of America turning into a Plutacracy along with global warming are creating a perfect storm that is screwing the non-wealthy first.  Climate change will effect all living things in time.  It’s just that the wealthy can hoard public services and live in the best locations to put off having to deal with it until “later”.  Whenever nature comes screaming at their doors with a flood, tornado, hurricane or snowstorm of epic proportions, then they will deal with it, if they can. Good times, good times.

Extreme weather

New York 100-year Blizzard

New York Citie’s Mayour Bloomberg cut the city budget, laying off the workers who would have been there to clear the streets. Thanks a lot, that’s taking care of the city.

So I recommend that you look up and read Sirota’s article and I leave you with these words from it:

“We all know that American politics is dominated by money. The U.S. Senate is a millionair’s club, and the politicians who aren’t personally rich are typically bankrolled by corporate interests. Billionaire Mayour Bloomberg personifies this plotocratic order – and his declaration that “the city is going fine” during the blizzard because “Broadway shows were full” demonstarates what plutocracy means in practice. It means that when an emergency does not hurt the Bloombergs of the world, our government does not see any emergency at all.”

“Yes, as long as the Bloomberg’s streets are plowed (as the mayor’s was), as long as the all-important rich are enjoying their theater engagements, the plutocrats think everything is A-OK. They don’t care that, say, an outer-borough newborn died becasue EMTs couldn’t get to the baby’s home for nine hours. They don’t care that another outer-borough woman had to wait 30 hours for an ambulance after breaking her ankle. And those plutocrats certainly aren’t about to change the conservative economic policies that help make these crises so horrific for the non-rich.”

Can anyone say “Solar Energy”?  Hmmmm . ..  .

The Hamster likes this quote: “Insanity is my only means of relaxation” – don’t know the author.