There has been a serious lack of snow in this area this winter. We had about 6 inches at Christmas time here in the valley, with more in the mountains. But that was it. Then rain came and recently caused a serious snow melt in the mountains, as well. 70 inches of snow soon became 40 on the summit. But this week, we had snow again, only 3 inches or so down low. The skies then cleared and the clouds were glorious, all of them crowning the surrounding mountains of the Grande Ronde Valley.
Driving the length of the Columbia Gorge is a necessity for getting from NE Oregon to the west side, Hillsboro in particular. Last week, my husband and I did just that, in order to provide some baby care for our young granddaughter, who was ill. Both parents work, so retired grandparents love to step in when they can. The weather was dreary, but I always try to find subjects to photograph on the 5-hour trip. There were two stops for photos: one at Cascade Locks to photograph Bridge of the Gods, which crosses the Columbia into Washington state, and one on the way home at the remaining stands of trees at Boardman Tree Farm.
This winter has been a disappointment to me...primarily because there has been one incident of measurable snow, which was about 6 inches right before Christmas. Then the rain began and after the snow melted, the only moisture has been in the form of rain. We get a rain-snow mix, but nothing that sticks. Temperatures have been in the high 30's and low 40's, which certainly hasn't been conducive to winter weather. Recently, we took a drive to the neighboring mountainous county of Wallowa to visit Imnaha. My husband hadn't been there for years, and I simply wanted to go "somewhere." It's 40 miles to Joseph, which is essentially "the end of the road" in NE Oregon. The trip to Imnaha is 30 miles NE into an isolated area, which has been homesteaded for generations. Joseph sits at an elevation of 4,190 feet and Imnaha's elevation is 1,978 feet. The temperature on the car thermometer crept higher the farther north we went, from 38 to 51 degrees: hence the name "the banana belt." The growing season is considerably longer in Imnaha.
The landscape is basically treeless, unlike much of the forested land of Wallowa County.
These cows needed short legs on the uphill side for the steep
grazing land. Several ranchers have cattle in this area.
There's a Post Office and a school in "city center."
Last year's winter was one-in-30-years...snow started the day after Thanksgiving and didn't seem to end until March! The wind blew and the snow piled higher. It truly was momentous. This year...different. It got cold, but there wasn't any "real" snow until right before Christmas. The scenes here are all at Wallowa Lake, which is at an elevation of 4700 feet. The area had been under a temperature inversion, so the hoar frost was beautiful. It was only 29 degrees, so my photo session was a bit rushed. Now that the region has had at least 6 inches more snow, I need to visit the lake again.
I'm lagging in my blog posts, but I'm also lagging in my photography. There are too many things I dislike about this time of year. I do love frost photos, but I also love being warm, and getting outside early when it's in the 20's is NOT one of my loves! My husband and I drove across the Blue Mountains to Walla Walla, Washington this week; on our way home, the sunset was amazing.
These are the foothills of the Blue Mountains above the Walla Walla Valley.
As we start the climb out of the valley to head east, there's an intersection which provides a view of the Weston, Oregon cemetery. The sky was on fire, and the trees in the cemetery were beautiful silhouettes.
There is a lot of land surrounding the place that I live, and I drive the country roads often. Early fall was beautiful in color, but the cold settled in quickly and we got our first snow right after Halloween. The following images were taken on two separate drives that I took, one north, one west, and one east.The latter was after the cold had moved in.
I think college campuses are traditionally prettier than the average location, and fall is especially pretty. As I've blogged before, I make a trip to Eastern Oregon University's campus each fall to record some of the foliage beauty.