With no plans for the Christmas holiday Troubadour and I decided to go for a hike. Where to go we pondered. We finally decided to see if we could get all the way up Marys Peak to the parking lot. We could see the Peak from our house and knew there would be snow, but we weren't sure how much, and if we could make it in the Subaru. The year we bought the Subaru we couldn't get to the parking lot because of the deep snow.
According to the Siuslaw National Forest website: "at 4,097 ft (1,249 meters) of elevation, Marys Peak is the highest peak in the Oregon Coast Range. It is the highest point in Benton County and ranks 11th in the State for prominence."
We set out a little after lunch, the temperature having warmed up above freezing and the sun high overhead.
We took the back roads to Highway 34 and up the twisties to the turn off. The road was a little frosty in places and soon enough as we watched the outdoor temperature on the dash drop to freezing and we encountered snow.
|(The road to Marys Peak, Benton County, Oregon)|
We made it to the parking lot with out any issues, the trusty Subaru never missed a beat. I was surprised at how many people were there. And even more surprised to see folks sledding down the hills. I would never have thought of that. Most folks had dogs with them as well who were enjoying themselves and running around playing.
We pulled on some extra layers, mittens, and knitted caps and walked around the parking area and took a few pictures.
|(Subaru in the snow)|
|(Panoramic by Troubadour)|
|(Notice how small vehicles and people look compared to the trees)|
|(Looking a little north-east over the valley to the Cascade Mountains)|
|(Looking a little south-east over the valley to the Cascade Mountains)|
|(More beautiful snowy trees)|
Now, it is a little hard to tell from the following picture, but there is a path that turns into a gravel road that goes across this hill and around to the right where it climbs to the peak. On the peak is a set of communication towers, a picnic table and a 360˚ view. This was our destination, a 1.5 mile (2.4 km) round trip hike.
|(Folks sledding at Marys Peak, Christmas Day 2016)|
It was slow going with the steep grade and walking in snow but we were determined. Part way up I took a look back at the parking lot and this was the view.
|(Looking back at the parking lot from part way up the hill)|
Onward we trudged looking in awe at the ice covered trees and shrubs, snapping pics along the way.
|(Random picture on the way up)|
|(Looking back at where we'd been - part way to the Peak)|
|(More random snowy trees)|
|(This shrub was covered in ice crystals)|
With only a little huffing and puffing and a few breaks for pictures we made it to the peak, which we had all to ourselves. The wind was kicking up and the clouds were rolling in so we didn't linger too long. Just long enough for a few pictures and of course a selfie.
|(Panoramic at the top - photo by Troubadour)|
|(Zoomed in view of the valley and Cascade Mountains to the east)|
|(Fenced in Bonneville Power Administration communication towers at the top of Marys Peak)|
|(The ice on the fence was sticking out 4-5 inches horizontally)|
|(Troubadour took a picture of my taking a picture of the fence above, notice the clouds rolling in)|
|(Ice crystals coated everything at the top even dormant grasses)|
|(And the obligatory selfie - Troubadour and Trobairitz)|
Brrrr, after the selfie taking we started the walk back down. I looked back at the towers and took one more picture of it with the blue sky background.
|(Looking up at the BPA communication towers on the Peak)|
|(Walking down off the Peak, heading back to the car)|
|(A close up of the icicles on one of the trees)|
|(Further down we walked, still in awe of the view across the valley)|
|(One last picture as the sun disappeared and we hurried our steps to the car)|
We made it down to the car and noticed that with the sun disappearing behind the clouds the people had also dispursed. There weren't nearly as many cars in the parking lot.
We headed out and made it home around 5pm.
I think this was the perfect way to enjoy snow - not on the valley floor where one has to shovel it and commute in it, but up on the Peak where one can visit it if they choose to.
- Au Revoir
" If the October days were a cordial like the sub-acids of fruits, these are a tonic like the wine of iron. Drink deep or be careful how you taste this December vintage. The first sip may chill, but a full draught warms and invigorates." - John Burroughs "Winter Sunshine"