Friday, October 24, 2014

What will this winter be like?

After last winter with frigid temperatures early on and then 6 weeks of little to no snow on the ground in December and January, seems like the question on most folks mind is
"What will this winter be like?"
Snowless, Frozen Trillium Lake, Thanksgiving 2013

Sometimes it'd be nice to have a crystal ball. Then it'd be easy to reply with confidence.

The winters have changed since I first moved to Government Camp in the early 1970s.
Having 8-13 feet of snow on the ground at the 4,000 foot level was more usual than not.  Except, of course, for the drought years like 1976-77 when snow didn't come until January and then there wasn't all that much of it. That was
a great winter for ice skating on Trillium Lake!

In 1984 we had several feet on the ground as early as October 20 (the earliest date we've ever been snowed in at Summit Meadow). This made for an interesting trip to the birthing room at the local hospital from our home at Summit Meadow when our son was born on Nov 8.  There was lots of snow that winter and it kept coming throughout April.

We started volunteering to groom the xc ski trails with a small snocat and a couple of feet was enough to start grooming and building a base. It's hard to believe we've been doing that for almost 30 years.

In the late 1980s and the 1990s, winter still lasted from Nov-April, but snow depth was more like 4-6 feet on the ground at any one time.

Now we have better grooming equipment, try to work with the powers to be to keep the road surface and drainage on the Trillium Lake Loop in good condition and with some luck have been able to groom the main trails with less than a foot of snow.  We've been able to groom the Trillium trails  and provide good conditions for xc skiers and snowshoers when other trails in the area are unskiable.
So, what does this all mean?

Even if we don't have a rip roaring snowfall, some of the best xc ski and snowshoe conditions will be in the Trillium Lake Basin. 

Living at Summit Meadow for the past 35 years, I've learned two things: 
There will be weather
we don't get  the same conditions two years in a row!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

SUMMER IS ON IT'S WAY.......enjoy the transition time

Sometimes it seems to me that we spend more time waiting for summer than we actually spend enjoying those months with the great weather, wildflowers, and incredible hikes and bike ride.
I started paying attention to the transition time, discovering a lot of beauty that I never made time to see before......whether it is the return of the varied 
a hungry junco returns
thrush with its incredible flute like call, the juncos that I didn't really miss until they came back, or the red wing black birds that  crowd to my feeder, especially when they get surprised by a inches of new snow on the meadow that was starting to green out. 
As the meadow melts out, there's lots of water which the mallards enjoy until it starts to dry out. On a few occasions, we've even seen a pair of sandhill cranes feeding in the wetness. Blooming skunk cabbage are the first wildflowers to show their color around Summit Meadow each spring.

Skunk cabbage starting to bloom

one of the 1st trilliums

They are followed by the trilliums poking their heads up frequently while patches of snow still litter the ground. As the snow melts and before the roads are clear enough for passenger vehicles, it's not unusual to see deer or elk grazing in the meadow.

Summit Meadow dotted w/ lupine
This year, since our accumulation at 4,000 feet was less than usual, it looks like we'll have an early summer and may be driving in any time from now..
Trillium Lk
Before you know it, here's what Trillium Lake and Summit Meadow will look like.