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Unsettled weather and rapid freeze thaw cycles have resulted in breakable crust and punchy conditions making the actual skiing a challenge. It says something when the up is better than the down.

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“My life changed forever the first time I saw T-McCall’s midge box.” -C. Scott

We’re in between storm systems. The next front will hopefully come tomorrow bringing with it a few inches and an increased area to explore. In the meantime it’s time to tie midges and brave icy waters.

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At the beginning of the month water levels were low and wading was easy. Now, after more than 15 inches of rain it turns out these rivers are height dependent, and I find myself bobbing across the bottom on tiptoe trying to find purchase. It would be a short, quick trip out to the Pacific from here.

We fished from before dawn to after dark both days this weekend then yesterday afternoon and dawn again today. We saw throngs of people, 70 boats, rain drops, wind, and few fish. I stuffed five layers under burly waders and wore two hats.

At home I washed my hands and the hot water burned like hydrogen peroxide on a fresh cut. The tips of the first two fingers on my right hand have white stripes from thousands of small strips of heavy line. Calluses where prints should be. Tomorrow we’ll go out again. My gut says conditions are ripe, and it’s about to turn on for a short window before the next storm brings another 5-8 inches of rain.

“The most miserable fishing weather. Ever. Worse than snow.” – C. Scott

The NOAA forecast for the next 36 hours is a little gnarly. Note the winds.

  • This Afternoon Rain, with thunderstorms also possible after 4pm. High near 58. Windy, with a south wind around 60 mph, with gusts as high as 90 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New rainfall amounts between a quarter and half of an inch possible.
  • Tonight Rain and possibly a thunderstorm. Some storms could be severe, with damaging winds. Low around 54. Windy, with a south wind 44 to 49 mph decreasing to 31 to 36 mph after midnight. Winds could gust as high as 75 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New rainfall amounts between 1 and 2 inches possible.
  • Tuesday Rain. Temperature falling to around 52 by 5pm. Breezy, with a south wind 24 to 28 mph, with gusts as high as 41 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New precipitation amounts between three quarters and one inch possible.
  • Tuesday Night Showers. Low around 51. Breezy, with a south wind 24 to 26 mph, with gusts as high as 39 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New precipitation amounts between a quarter and half of an inch possible.

Meanwhile the days have all started to blend together.

It seems unjust to be hoping for the rains to come and the rivers to rise while the east coast is still recovering from Sandy the Frankenstorm. Yet today that’s how we’re rolling with flies being tied, waders being patched, and the forecast on constant update. It’s a weird, weird world.

Off the beaten path, Wallowa County, Oregon

Yesterday, my work plans were cancelled and I ended up with most of a day to kill. The weather was threatening a spring blizzard, low 40s and dropping with winds gusting at about 20-25mph. The Eagle Cap was already turning white under new snow. The only reasonable thing to do – go fishing. The north east corner of the state is filthy with trout streams, and though it was a holiday weekend, it seemed like getting out on the river could still be awesome. It was!

Unfortunately, today, in a sad turn of events on a different river, I broke my first-ever fly rod, then realized I had a massive leak in the wheel cylinder of back rear brake on the truck. With it being Sunday and Memorial Day tomorrow, there aren’t any auto part stores or mechanics available until Tuesday. No transportation, no fly rod, but plenty of fish. I guess it’s time to lace up running shoes, then do some work.

ImageIt’s spring! Here come new adventures, new friends, and new places. Let’s go play outside!

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Spring is great. Glopping is not. Drying climbing skins on the ski in to the Hemlock Butte Shelter in Diamond Peak Wilderness.

My Spidey-sense says, winter is winding down. It says, the storms that have pummeled us the last few days are some of the last we’ll see before next October. It says, it’s time to start taking advantage of longer days by skiing volcanoes, running trails, and riding bikes.

Winter has always been my favorite season. (Spring and summer are right there next to it. Fall is just awesome — all those crisp nights and anticipation.) And while this winter fell a bit short of what I hoped it would be, it was still brilliant and filled with new experiences and adventures that feed my stoke for next year.

What about you? How was your winter? Did you ski enough, play enough, get out there enough? Are you amped up for spring, big days and funny tan lines, or are you ready to migrate to the southern hemisphere in hopes that they’ll get what we never quite got?

Are you planning to ride your bike everyday for 30 days next month, run a new trail race to kick off the season, or take a wilderness float down a wild and scenic river?

Me, I’m hoping for a little of everything, and a lot of some things. Spring is coming and it’s going to be great!

This morning I drove west to east over the pass. There were natural avalanches on every aspect and on nearly every slope greater than 30 degrees. I’ve never seen anything like it.

Locally at 2 pm, resort management closed the entire mountain reporting more than eight inches of heavy, wet snow in four hours and winds exceeding 100 mph. The mountains aren’t a good place to be today.

The Danger Rose at left is from the Northwest Avalanche Center backcountry forecast for the area surrounding Mt. Hood. All that black isn’t a graphics error. Here’s a link to the complete avalanche danger scale:  Extreme.

And here’s Tuesday’s Avalanche Forecast: A major storm is expected to move across the Northwest on Tuesday. This is expected to cause strong southwest crest level winds and very heavy rain or snow with a warming trend especially in the central to south Cascades. These are great ingredients for building new soft or wind slab layers of increasing density on lee slopes. A change to rain will add further heavy loads and weaken underlying snow layers on all steep aspects. Natural and triggered avalanches possibly deep and large should be likely by Tuesday afternoon. Dangerous conditions are expected and back country travel is not recommended by Tuesday afternoon.

For the last hour I’ve been sitting with one running shoe on and one off, staring partly out the window and partly at a pile of snow gear. In a minute, I’ll lace up my other shoe and head out for a run through the wintery mix, officially giving up on skiing today. It shouldn’t have been a hard decision, and it’s definitely the right decision. Somehow, though, it’s always tough to stay home when it’s storming.

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