The Bustache

Layer Up

Life on Misty Mountain Installment #2:

In the 7 months we’ve been at Camp Quarantine we’ve experienced 3 seasons and a variety of “weather.”  It is certainly a change from the very predictable, year-round sun of SoCal.  

Mt. Hood sits smack-dab in the middle of the Cascade Range which starts at the very top of Northern California and slips just over the Washington / Canadian border.  As wind blows west from the Pacific Ocean towards the mountains, moisture builds and is pushed up to higher elevations.  As the air thins, the moisture is released… or, erhm…should I say, “dumped,” as rain or snow.  This occurs 9-10 months of the year.  The result is a dense, lush forest with 200 foot firs, fern cloaked floors and moss covered, well, EVERYTHING.  A frequently heard joke around here is, “whelp, just discovered yet ANOTHER shade of green today.”

Summer here is what I would consider my personal paradise.  It may have lasted only 2-months (and even that was cut short by the fires), but it was SPECTACULAR.  The blue skies pierce through castles of gigantic trees.  There are rivers, streams, creeks and lakes everywhere.  And the waterfalls… the waterfalls are as plentiful as they are powerful. 

My favorite childhood movie was Ferngully, and this place is as close to it coming to life as it can get.  I truly wouldn’t be surprised if a fairy flitted by one day or a gnome casually strolled across our path.  It is magical here.

Fairies live here.

Although we did experience a handful of 90+ degree days here this summer, most of the time it has been damp.  And because of that, Mt. Hood’s specific claim to fame is its year-round skiing.  It is the only resort in the lower 48 that offers “turns* in every month.”  The US Olympic Ski Team actually trains here during the peak summer weeks.  

Now that we are in late fall/early winter the forest has thinned a bit with the deciduous trees losing their leaves.  Instead of an impenetrable wall of green, you can see deeper into the woods with space between the conifers loosening up and the canopy widening.  The landscape has transformed and feels different. We are discovering new scenes on familiar paths.

We’ve only had flurries of snow at Misty Mountain so far, but a 7-minute drive up to higher elevations, and we are in a winter wonderland with 4-6 feet of fresh powder.  Mt. Hood is draped in white and is absolutely dazzling on blue-bird days.  Its textured facade is even more pronounced with its emphasized shadows. You cannot take your eyes away!

Of course our biggest challenge is dressing appropriately for the given weather.  In SoCal, seasons are merely a fashion statement, and clothing doesn’t actually have any utility.  In Steve’s case, coats are the things you carry with you and then leave on the backs of chairs at restaurants.

But here, we’ve quickly learned, the proper clothes is the difference between having a good time and being miserable.  Or, on a more serious note, keeping all your fingers and toes or losing them to frostbite.  We’ve been on a journey to find, as Steve puts it, “One Jacket To Rule Them All!” (waterproof, breathable, insulated, warm, thin), but so far, no luck (though we’ve gotten close!).  So until we do, we have this ridiculous coat rack filled with more outwear than anyone has a right to own.  Trial and error.  Test and evaluate.  Doubt but reluctantly learn that vests are your best friends.

We weren’t sure how we’d feel about living in a place with proper seasons and temperatures below 65, but so far the novelty has given way to more wonder than worry.  So we’ll keep layering-up, over-dressing, shivering and sweating. Explore, explore, explore.

*(“Turns” apparently refers to ski/snowboarding… I did not know this until a couple of months ago. *shrug*)

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