Sunday, November 11, 2018

Signs of Winter

It's too early...for winter, that is. We've had snow on Halloween various years, but this year it was rain that stopped right in time for trick-or-treaters to begin their fun evening.  The following week, the weather turned cold with lows in the 20's at night and highs in the 40's during the day.  We knew that elevations above 4000 feet had snow, but it wasn't on the valley floor yet.  It was my idea to take a drive at 2 in the afternoon, thinking we would drive into the mountains a short distance and then go back home.  Just 13 miles west and then north from home on Hwy 204 over the Blue Mountains is Summit Road, #31--"National Forest Primary Road (suitable for passenger cars)", according to the Umatilla National Forest map.  The road runs south in the mountains ...the range that includes Mt. Emily, a 6000+ mountain that dominates the west side of the Grande Ronde Valley. Eventually, the road turns southwest and finally exits at I-84, several miles out of La Grande.

"Suitable for passenger cars" is a little generous; I've seen cars up on Mt. Emily, but we always drive a pickup.  It didn't take long to find snow; in fact, we were in snow on Tollgate before we turned off of 204.  But it's also the end of elk season, so the main road and the spur roads have all been traveled.  There were campers and tents in various locations that are in view of the road.  Our "short drive" turned into "the whole enchilada."  Above 4000 feet, there was snow and it was cold.  Our "short drive" turned into 3 hours, extended partially by stops for photos.  At the end, I was really happy that we had made the trip.  No doubt, it won't be long before the Summit Road will be snowed in, and will be accessible only to snowmobiles.

 Summit Road at the intersection with Hwy 204
 The scenery was immediately wintry, although there were still fall leaves on some of the trees.

  The yellow in the landscape are the tamarack trees

 At one point, the Grande Ronde Valley is in view...seeming so far away.  Mount Harris is across the valley.
 Much of the road is "interior," but here it is close to the edge with the Grande Ronde Valley below.
 This tree is one of my favorite landmarks, in any season, but this was my first view of it in snow.
Descending from the "summit" and the snow, the road winds through fall-like landscape and down to the valley.


Bill said...

And very fine pictures they are--- so I'm glad you did. I really like that 5th one--the sun in the trees.

elizabeth said...

Such beauty!

Denise Bickmore said...

i love this entire series! It's pretty because it has just enough snow to be snowy, but not enough to wipe out all the other scenery. Glad you took the trip!

Electric | Journal said...

What a beautiful day in the mountains, with a snowy bonus! The light is wonderful, and so are the views. I especially love the fifth: the light in the evergreens. Another tree photograph to print?

Leslie Miller said...

Driving in snow makes me very nervous, but you're probably a lot more acquainted with it than I am. It's so lovely to look at, whether it's a full blanket or a dusting, as shown here. Those valley views are spectacular, and that single, gnarled tree is a beauty. I lived for a brief spell in La Grande when I was in high school. I'm so glad I checked your blog today, Evelyn.

The Padre said...

Absolutely Gorgeous - Well Done