22
Dec
2013
jloomis

Where is all the Snow?

It's been a poor winter so far in Western Oregon as far as mountain snow goes. Christmas is only a couple days away and there is only a trace of snow at Government Camp (~4,000'). We have friends coming home for the holidays and we were planning on having a snow day next Saturday. Normally there would be 3-4 feet of snow at Government Camp this time of year. On the same day last year, there was 43 inches of snow in the vicinity. I picked a bad year to buy a new snowmobile.

Being optimistic, I decided to go exploring Sunday to see if I could find some snow higher up. My first stop was forest road 44 toward High Prairie and Lookout Mountain. The road heads up to the 6,000' level where there was about two feet of snow. Unfortunately before I could get much above 4,000', the road became a solid sheet of very slick ice (road 44 is not maintained for winter travel). I stopped to evaluate and fell on my rear end the second my feet hit the ice. I made it over to the side of the road where there were a couple inches of wet snow and walked up the road about a half mile where I found bare pavement. After another half mile I hit ice again. I decided it wasn't worth driving my truck on the ice, nor the wear and tear on my snowmobile, so I turned around.

My next stop was Bennett Pass SnoPark. At first I got excited because there was almost a foot of snow near the parking lot. I unloaded my snowmobile and headed down the trail. Unfortunately I hit gravel after only a mile or two and turned around. I have already had my share of gravel riding this season. I talked to a guy back at the snopark who said there might be snow up near Frog Butte. I decided to go and check it out.

Some snow right at Bennett Pass SnoPark     Mt Hood peaking out behind the clouds and fog

After loading my snowmobile back up, I drove over to Frog Lake SnoPark. There was even less snow which I suspected was due to the lower elevation. I didn't bother unloading my sled and instead walked down the trail. It was a combination of 1-2 inches of ice and slush. There was another guy out riding with his son who informed me there was gravel up toward Frog Lake. What a disappointment, but not a surprise. I decided since I was up there, I might as well enjoy a walk. I checked out the campground and nearly fell again on the ice. I walked to the shore of Frog Lake which was still frozen, but with plenty of melted water sitting on top of the ice. If it ever gets cold and snows the lake should be prime for riding across.

Very little snow near Frog Lake     Ice and slush on Frog Creek Rd 4610
Partially frozen Frog Lake

What a disappointing December. And the weather forecast calls for continued warmer temperatures and sunny skies through the new year. I sure hope this doesn't last much longer. I want to take Katie and the baby snow camping at some point this winter, but it may not be until February at this rate.

Gear List

2013 Polaris 800 Switchback Assault Snowmobile
HMK Summit V16 Pack
GMAX GM76X Helmet
Smith Phenom Turbo Fan Goggles
Columbia Men’s Bugaboot Max Electric Boots
Columbia Men's Echochrome Ski Pants
Columbia Titanium Hightail II Softshell Jacket
Columbia Triple Trail Shell Jacket
Triple Star Packable Down Hooded Jacket
Head Digital Sport Liner Gloves
Outdoor Research Ambit Gloves
Columbia Men's Fast Trek Fleece Hat
Balaclava
Petzl TIKKA XP 2 Headlamp
Olympus Tough TG-1 Camera
Sony Action Cam HDR-AS15
Lifeline Aluminum Sport Utility Snow Shovel
First Aid Kit
iPhone w/NeoTreksGPS
Suunto A-10 Compass

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Disclaimer: You are responsible for informing yourself of the hazards of backcountry travel and taking the necessary precautions. Loomis Adventures may not be held liable.