Blog Archives

Ice Ice Baby

For those of you who have wisely chosen to stay away this past week while the Gorge pounded out its first windy ice storm of the season, I thought we’d share a whip of the tempest.

Ice in the Parking Log

The sun’s reflection on the ice that coats Rooster Rock’s parking lot.

 

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The effect of that ice.  An accident on I-84 that sent rangers scurrying home.

 

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Weather changes quickly in the Gorge. On November 7, our big leaf maples looked like this.

 

Snow and Maple Leaf

By the following week, the trees sat naked, leaves lodged in snow.

 

Ice on Cliff

Icicles form at water seeps along the Columbia River Highway.

 

Shepperd's Dell and Bridge

Trails and bridges are coated with ice . . . and will be slow to thaw in the shadows of the Gorge walls.  This is a look at Shepperd’s Dell.

 

Shepperd's Dell

Shepperd’s Dell hourglass waterfall.

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The trail at Latourell is closed due to ice, but you can still admire the contrast of the icy falls and the glowing lichen from the lower viewpoint.

 

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When I arrived at Multnomah Falls (not a State Park, but a flagship of the Gorge), two visitors were beyond the fence at the lower pool side (not permitted).  While there are many reasons waterfall pools are closed, it is especially dangerous in the winter — water seeps into cracks between columns of basalt rock and then expands when it freezes . . . peeling off slabs of rock and sending them flying onto whatever lies below.

 

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Snowmaggedon 2014

Well, it’s been heck of a month for weather in the Columbia River Gorge.  You probably saw last week’s snow in the news and at your own doorstep.  Here’s a peek of how things looked from our boots.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

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Snowbanks lined the (plowed!) East Gorge trailheads.  As a kiddo, I would have found these to be the perfect base for a snow fort.

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A little bit of snow didn’t keep the hearty visitors from playing along the West Trailhead on the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail!

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However, at the West Gorge, the light, fluffy snow, with a nice Gorge breeze made for drifts high enough to block entrance to the Rooster Rock office.

Monday, February 10, 2014

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Overnight sleet turned the parking lot at Angel’s Rest into an ice skating rink.  2018 Winter Olympics, here we come!

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Any guesses as to the medium of this piece of winter art?
It’s snow!  Swirled with grit and filling the outside stairwell to the Friends of Vista House winter office. Gorgeous . . . until it melted!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

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Rangers returned to work on Tuesday to drifts up to four feet tall — it took the whole team, manger included, to clear the way.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

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By Wednesday, passenger vehicles finally had access Rooster Rock. . . . And our light, fluffy winter wonderland began to turn to dirty brown mush.  Until next time . . .

Winter in the Wonderland

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Mirror Lake at Rooster Rock is nearly frozen over. If you’re in the Gorge, bundle up and keep an eye out for frozen waterfalls!

Well, winter has arrived.  I know for most, this is a reason for concern.  Temperatures are dropping, winds are picking up, visibility is low, and roads are getting slick.  It is the first snow of the season; and it’s a good day to stay home with a book, a blanket, and a hot drink.  And to check extreme conditions from the safe comfort of home.

Here’s what it’s looking like at the west end of the Columbia River Gorge:

It is windy.  And cold.

As of 8:27 AM, temperatures at Vista House on Crown Point were +1 degree Fahrenheit with the wind chill.  That wind was gusting up to 53 miles per hour.  Interested in seeing this data for yourself?  Check out our NOAA Weather Conditions at Crown Point:

http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/mesowest/getobext.php?wfo=pqr&sid=D6193&num=60&raw=0&banner=off

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Snow makes for Class A wildlife tracking!

It is snowing.

What was flurries on I-205 in Portland is turning into snow on I-84 heading east.  It’s one of those days where an unexpected gust can slide you sideways a bit, even if you’re only going 35 mph.

It’s also freezing.

And has been for days.  Yesterday, the Tundra Swans were feeding in the center of Mirror Lake at Rooster Rock, rumps up in the air.  Today, they were ice skating.  Joining them in the performance were:

  • Hooded Merganser
  • Mallard
  • Green-winged Teal
  • Northern Pintail
  • Bufflehead
  • Song Sparrow
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  • Steller’s Jay
  • Black-capped Chickadee
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Tundra Swans call Mirror Lake home in the fall and winter seasons. With a camera up to the binoculars, you can just make them out!

Winter is a time of subtle beauty in the Gorge.  If you want to see it for yourself, just come prepared for extreme winter conditions.  Check the weather and the roads, bundle up, pack a little extra of everything, and play it safe.  If, like today, it’s unsafe to drive, wait a day or two.  The Gorge will still be here, waiting with a windy embrace.