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Tag Archives: hood river

Fresh Snow, Fresh Tracks, and the Wilderness Close By

“What first caught my attention was the large imprint in the snow... Then I saw the blood, still a brilliant shade of red.” There will always be something special about being that first person to venture out into freshly fallen snow, especially when that snow is in your own backyard. My new favorite pastime, though, comes in the days to follow, as the snow slowly collects evidence of the wilderness around us. Last week, I followed the same set of deer tracks for three miles. It was the same route I’d taken numerous times before, but the addition of these tracks captured so perfectly in the snow made it seem new — almost magical. I found myself wondering, are the deer just as enthralled when they get to follow our tracks? I doubt it. As we focus our attention on the rate of development and urbanization happening all around us, it’s easy to forget just how close we are to the “call of the wild.” Paving a place, however, does not take it outside the realm of the wilderness, and it certainly does not make it ours. I received a relatively gentle reminder of this today. It was a little after 1 p.m. when I set off with my dog for the Twin Tunnels trail...

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Why Are We So Warm In January?

One of the things I’ve always enjoyed about the Gorge is the seasons. We have them; unlike some of the other places I’ve lived, where either summer or winter or some particular sort of weather predominates. In the Gorge, we have summer, fall, winter, spring. Four beautiful stages of the year, as I’ve told friends in other places more than once. Thanks for making a liar of me, weather. It’s hit 50 degrees or warmer for the past several days here in The Dalles. It’s been pleasant, but disconcerting. You shouldn’t be able to stroll around without a coat in January. This comes on the heels of the notice that scientists are saying 2007 could be the warmest year ever recorded. Yes, that’s anecdotal evidence, but still a close-to-home example of global warming. It’s also part of larger pattern, what with recent repeat floods in our backyard, and endangered polar bears up north. And then there’s this: that every year since 1992 has made the list of the 20 warmest years on record...

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Hood River Valley Residents Form Competing Groups Over Measure 37

How many farmers would get out of the business if a better offer came along? A bushel-full of them. Counting the latest Measure 37 claims, greater than a fifth of Hood River Valley’s farmland could be developed into housing projects and golf courses, according to a brief from Oregon Public Broadcasting. That’s among the latest and most pointed land-use stories making the rounds. As I’ve reported previously, the Hood River Valley farmers are subject to increasing pressures and decreasing profits, which make potentially lucrative Measure 37 claims, for many, keenly desired. To its credit, the Hood River News has awakened to this unfolding drama in its backyard and has been reporting an ongoing series on Measure 37 in recent weeks. The latest installment is a defense by valley orchardists who are filing claims — and want to tell the “other side” of Measure 37...

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A Mountain of Risks and Mirrors

It’s strange what fascination the mountains hold for humans. Nearly two weeks ago, three climbers climbed Mount Hood. We all know their names and details by now, how they appeared to have summitted, but suffered some injury, and been slammed by the ferocious storm that roared through the Northwest. It looks increasingly like none of them made it safely through that. We all know, too, about the media eruption that followed the lost climbers. The grim-faced television reporters, with their breathless nightly news accounts. The extra-bold headlines. Climbers should carry insurance, say many in the letters to newspapers, on the street, and in the Internet fora. Maybe they should be hit with a rescue bill, too — well, you know, if they’re found. On Metafilter, the popular talk-about-everything site, the climbers-must-pay thread has drawn 200 comments, more than any other recent topic. And at least one national TV program went out of its way to highlight the cost of the search — as if to say, “See what these bozos are costing us?” There’s no word on how much the average viewer has cost the mountain climbing community, though. You know, Mr. and Mrs. Public? The ones with the high-fat diets and coach-loafing lifestyle, who vastly outnumber climbers and cost them higher taxes and health care prices? How many mountain searches would it cost to treat one uninsured person with chronic heart disease?...

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Café Correspondent Reports–Topic: “Inversion”

Reporting from a downtown Hood River coffee shop, Temira Wagonfeld, wades through fact and fancy, leaving no innocent bystander un-harassed in her search for answers (and opinions) about the ‘Gorge Inversion.’ “If I give you a quote, can you make it go away? It’s so depressing,” whined Meredith Meskin when I asked her what she thought of Hood River’s winter weather phenomenon, the inversion layer. Meskin owns a hydroponic greenhouse in The Dalles. “Nothing grows under the inversion layer,” she complained. The inversion may be purely a weather phenomenon, but that doesn’t stop local residents from having their own theories. “It’s those damn cows in Boardman,” asserted a Hood River resident. “We didn’t have this inversion before they opened that 50,000 head ranch out there. All that methane causes this smog.” “It’s the dams,” said another...

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Gorge Adventurer Showing Expedition Film in Hood River

Local publisher and adventurer Dave Waag will be presenting a film about a team of friends, skiers, who made an expedition to the remote Altai Mountains in China. The one-hour film, Journey to the Source: The Search for Skiing’s Ancient Roots, will play Dec. 8 at 7 p.m. at Dog River Coffee, in Hood River. Waag is probably best known as publisher of Off Piste, the back country ski magazine. He was one of the three members of the Altai expedition; it was a six-week outing in the spring of 2005. The Altai comprise a range of mountains between China, Mongolia and Russia. Besides remote and much un-schussed terrain, the mountains are home to a hardy, semi-nomadic people for whom skiing is a way of life. Some people believe that skiing began in this region of Central Asia, and later migrated to Scandinavia, later to emerge in Alpine Europe and the United States. Waag recently consented to answer a few questions in advance of the film: New West: How did the Altai expedition come about?...

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Skiing at Meadows by mid-December?

We could get our mountain back within a couple weeks. That’s the word from Oregon transportation officials about the reopening of Highway 35 south of Hood River. Steven Harry, a PR rep for the Oregon Department of Transportation, has sent out a press release saying that crews are working quickly. He writes, “Barring unforeseen conditions or bad weather, the highway is expected to reopen by Dec. 15.” The highway was cut — and Mount Hood Meadows ski area cut off — November 6 and 7, you’ll recall, when continuing rains sent huge landslides and overflowing streams across it. A million cubic yards of soil, trees and boulders sluiced down Mount Hood’s flanks. The overflowing White River dug a new channel along, under and over Highway 35; that, and overflows and undercuts along the Hood River, Clark and Newton Creeks washed out a total of 2.5 miles of road. ODOT says it will hold two public meeting to discuss the wash-out, the repairs and the ultimate rebuilding, or fate, of Highway 35. This, as an Oregonian article points out, is an open question. How many times should we build a highway in an active flood and slide zone?...

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Meadows Cut Off: Skiers Cope With Road Closure

Gorge skiers and Riders gathered last night at the Hood River Middle School auditorium for a showing of Warren Miller’s latest film, “Off The Grid”. The crowd was surprisingly upbeat considering that Mount Hood Meadows is, for the time being, almost totally cut off from the rest of the world and, more importantly, from us. Massive lanslides caused by the recent heavy rains have wiped out sections of Highway 35 on both sides of our local resort and according to the Oregon Department of Transportation our mountain is officially ‘off the grid.’ (I don’t think this is what Warren had in mind.) The buzz of rumors about just how much damage was done and just how long it will be before Hwy. 35 reopens was incessant before, during and after the slick ski flick. And all the snippets of conversation I overheard were filled with the kind of giddy optimism that Titanic passengers must have felt as they made snowballs from chunks of iceberg. For example...

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Clouds Wringing Themselves Out Over Oregon

Heavy autumn rains are swelling rivers and closing roads around Oregon this election evening. And it’s not just the coast and the Willamette Valley getting hammered — highway officials have closed Oregon Highway 35 south of Hood River at White River due to boulders and debris on the the road. (This is as of Tuesday evening.) The Hood River itself Tuesday rose as high as the railroad bridge. (Photos courtesy of Dave Waag, of Hood River. Thanks, Dave!) For more, and larger, photos, click to the jump.

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Neighbors, Takings and Money Refused — A Roundup of Interesting Landuse Stories

There are several interesting little property rights stories floating around just ahead of the big vote in the West this week on various Measure 37 spinoffs. ”¢ First... across Ol’ Windy in Skamania County, property developers are threatening to sue the county if it enacts a zoning plan around Swift Reservoir. Their beef? They say that putting in protections after they’ve bought spec land with hopes of building hundreds of houses would be — you guessed it — illegal taking. The threat comes just ahead of Washington’s vote on a statewide takings initiative, I-933. ”¢ Second...

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