Photo of the Day: Mt. Baker

I found the following photo, submitted to the Bellingham Herald, to be absolutely stunning.

Herald reader BJ Toews sent this photo of the sun rising behind Mount Baker, creating a shadow in the sky, at 7:39 a.m. Monday, Oct. 18, 2010. Toews took the photo from the family’s backyard in Everson.

The art of photography fascinates me. It exists as the result of a collaboration between technology and the human element, but not just any human. Heck, all you have to do is spend a little time looking at your friends’ photos on Facebook to see that some have an observant, creative eye and some are simply archivists, documenting moments in time with no regard to aesthetics.

Conversely, it was one thing for BJ Toews to notice this spectacular sunrise, but without the technology it might have remained a memory in his mind, or, at the most, a story to tell over breakfast.

You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows

So, it’s being reported

Forecast: Plan now for bad Puget Sound winter
The Associated Press

SEATTLE – — Weather forecasters are warning Puget Sound residents to plan now for a colder, wetter and snowier winter.

A La Niña weather pattern is likely to bring nastier weather to the region, especially in late fall and early winter. The weather pattern occurs when the temperature of the ocean’s surface cools near the equator, sending storms to the Pacific Northwest.

And while the state of Washington is concerned about safety and liability…

A new program called “Take Winter by Storm” has been set up to help people get ready. It includes a website,, with advice on how to prepare. The $240,000 program is a collaboration by King County, the city of Seattle, Puget Sound Energy and State Farm insurance.

…the Mt. Baker Ski Area has created a special page on their website, giddy they are with anticipation of possible record snowfalls…and windfall profits.

Most notably, the World Record winter of 1998-99 was a La Niña winter. In just that winter, we received 1,140 inches of snowfall, which became the new World Record for the most snowfall ever recorded in a single winter anywhere on Earth.

Last year, Mt. Baker opened unusually early, thanks to plentiful snow a week into November. But then the season quickly turned rainy and slushy, until a surprise cooler and snowier early spring encore.

Personally, while I’m tempted to get my skis out and take them in for a tune-up, I’m not counting any snowflakes until they hatch!

Skiing? What’s that?

As I came across the article in today’s Bellingham Herald about the closing of the Mt. Baker Ski Area season this coming weekend, I was reminded with more than a little embarrassment that I’d made quite the fuss over the opening of the season and my first two trips to the mountain.

On November 28th, two days before the first trip, I wrote:

I have a goal to get up to Chair 8 this season, I’m pretty sure that it won’t be this first trip, but I’m determined to get there as soon as possible.

Sad to say, not only did I not get up to Chair 8 this season, I only ever skied those two days over the course of the whole season.

The Herald article talks about how this was a “bookend” season, with warm temperatures and a lot of rain on the mountain during the middle of the season, and despite what I said about rain and slush in November and January, the weather and general busyness with other things, simply removed skiing from my family’s collective consciousness.

There’s a slight chance we’ll make it up for one last day on the very last day of the season this Sunday, but I’m not betting on it. It would be a nice treat if we can manage it, but I’m ready to conclude that skiing, this year, just wasn’t meant to be.

Slush is just alright with me

me on skis
You know how it is when you’re driving on the freeway, perhaps a little, ahem, faster than you should be, like, say 75 MPH in a 70 MPH zone, and you’re a little nervous about being over the speed limit, but then, suddenly, some car comes zooming past you, really zooming, like they are there one moment and then they’re out of sight in seconds, and you realize that they must be driving like 90 MPH or more…and you were worried about getting a ticket?

According to a page on the internets:

Slush happens when snow that is starting to melt becomes even wetter. Wet snow is the stickiest snow in the world and slows you down. Not much fun at all.

While there was definitely some of what I’d call slush down at the chairlifts at Mt. Baker yesterday, I’m more inclined to describe the overall conditions the way they did at the Mt. Baker Snow Report: nice soft snow.

I like all three of those words. Nice. Soft. Snow.

The alternative – bad, hard, ice – was happily nowhere to be found. Neither was there rain nor relentless heavy winds. I considered it a stellar day: comfortable temps (wore a light jacket over an underlayer and light sweater), I made some good progress improving my carving skills, and I had a blast with my family and our new 21-year old Homestay student from Singapore.

Still, it was impossible to escape the complaining by those people whom, I assume, could very likely be the same people who zoom past me on the freeway when I myself am speeding. To those people, as the definition of slush I linked to points out, wet snow slows you down and is not much fun at all.

I’m pretty comfortable now calling myself an intermediate skier, as I spend most of my time on the intermediate, or Blue, runs, and if all I can do is become a great skier on Blue runs I’ll be very happy. I’m not an adrenaline junkie, Black Diamond kind of guy. If wet, soft snow slows me down and allows me to focus on the fundamentals that is just alright with me.


Baker Report: Day 1

Well, it didn’t look much like the photo here, with rain falling on us all day, but we managed to have a great time.

At first, when we realized that the weather forecast had lied to us for the millionth time, we were all a bit disappointed. There was plenty of snow, since 200 inches had fallen in November, but snow wear and rain wear are two very different things. Our poly underwear, jackets, pants and gloves keep us dry and toasty all day when it’s snowing or clear on the mountain, yet our gear is not waterproof and we were soaked through by lunchtime.

Still, it was our first ski/snowboard trip of the year, the slopes were wide open because of a low turnout, so with no long lines at the lifts we crammed in a lot of runs and had a lot of fun. I’m able to keep up with my wife and son a lot better, and so we had more together time.

A friend of ours likes to say, “It’s all skiing!” It’s kinda like the bumper sticker that says, “A bad day _________ is better than a good day at work.” Yet, our friend’s saying is broader than that. To him setting the alarm to get up early the night before is skiing. Packing the car in the morning is skiing. Driving that long, winding road to the ski area is skiing… well, you get the idea.

So the rain? It’s all skiing!

Mt. Baker, here we come!

I’m not a morning person, and I don’t like going to bed early. However, there is one thing that will highly motivate me to hit the sack several hours before my normal bedtime, and do so filled with excitement, like I’m a little kid the night before Christmas or something.

Tomorrow morning will be our first trip to Mt. Baker this season, and I’m already in bed and in my jammies as I write this.

The snow report looks great, the weather forecast appears to be highly favorable, and we’ll be driving up more relaxed than ever before, in the improved safety of our new-used 4-wheel drive Hyundai Santa Fe.

I have a goal to get up to Chair 8 this season, I’m pretty sure that it won’t be this first trip, but I’m determined to get there as soon as possible.

Wish me luck!


On the Go: Snow!

Pursuant to my rain post yesterday, many Bellinghamsters don’t suffer from seasonal affective disorder because they know that when it rains here in town it often means fresh snow at Mt. Baker.

The season starts Thursday!

Sunday, November 8, 2009, Mt. Baker