Roxy Ann: Full Conditions 15-Dec-2021

The highest point in Scotland is Ben Nevis. At 1,345 m (4,413 ft), it’s not as tall as some mountains but, at 56° N, its gullies (and those on other Scottish mountains) “…presented a fearsome, icy sight in winter.” It was in these sinuous and confining gullies that the Scots, lead by the legendary Tom Patey, ushered in ice climbing’s modern era. At those more northerly latitudes, winter storms howling down out of the Arctic can beleaguer the poor ice climber with what came to be termed full conditions. 🥶 I’ve climbed in such conditions and do not recall the experience as being “fun” by any measure used by a sane person.

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Big Sky Over Roxy Ann (Southwest Oregon) 29-Jul-2021

We’ve been having some peculiar weather lately (but then haven’t we all 🙄). First heat domes, drought, wind, and smoke. Now thunderstorms and rain – one whole day of rain! Today the atmosphere sought to combine heat, smoke, and incipient thunder clouds. The result turned a simple exercise hike up Roxy Ann Peak into a lot of sky ogling. I only had my phone along. It can’t do all the things my “real” cameras can but it does enough – and takes snaps good enough – to sometimes make me feel like a Luddite for still using those “real” cameras. Sigh. Now if I could just figure out how to make the phone’s camera filters make me look 30 years younger. And more handsome too. 🤔

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Wildflowers on Upper Table (Southwest Oregon) 13-Apr-2021

Vernal pools and wildflowers flourish briefly each year on the flat summits of the Table Rocks, two extremely popular local hiking areas. We missed seeing the ponds and flowers last year because of Big V-driven closures. This year we visited Upper Table in February and Lower Table in March, just in time to see the vernal pools form. We promised to come back for the wildflowers, particularly the Dwarf Meadowfoams, subspecies of which are found only here. Yet we kept letting another visit slide. But the rains came late this year and left early and the drought rolled on and temperatures were “above normal” and the vernal pools withered. It suddenly dawned on us that we going to miss the meadowfoams yet again! The LovedOne was busy but I pushed off a Zoom meeting to make an early morning pilgrimage to the top of Upper Table.

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Snow Festoons Roxy Ann (Southwest Oregon) 15-Mar-2021

We guess that snow was more common in Southern Oregon at lower altitudes back in the day. In the last few years, however, it seems you need to be above 6,000 feet (1,828 m) to have a chance at serious, lasting snow. At just 3,573 ft (1,089 m), nearby Roxy Ann Peak rarely qualifies for a snowy mantle of any depth or longevity. Last night, however, a powerful, wet, cold front swept through, leaving 6 inches (15 cm) of fluffy white stuff on Roxy. It won’t last long. But, anticipating it’s arrival, and verifying same from our back porch early this morning, allowed us to speed up there to enjoy it while it lasts. Snow, when you don’t have to shovel it, dig your car out of it, or otherwise involuntarily mess with it, is truly enjoyable. And it really does give Roxy and the surrounding area a whole different look and feel. 🙂

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Interlude on Upper Table (Southwest Oregon) 10-Feb-2021

We had a nice visit to the Blue Grotto over the weekend, followed by two days of work and volunteering. But walls of water – in the form of a series of storms off the Pacific – are due in starting tomorrow. Today was an interlude. Initially forecast to be foggy, it started that way, then quickly evolved into a bright, clear day. 😎 One that called for yet another visit to a local favorite. Upper Table Rock is always the same place, but never really the same. Nature is dynamic – change is constant – there’s always something fascinating happening at some level. You just have to keep adjusting your frame of reference. So we went for a pleasant 6 mile (9.6 km) walk, gazing at the sky and the ground and in between as we went. Grass widow (Olsynium douglasii) shoots have started to appear, signalling the approach of Spring. It was a good walk on a fine day. 🙂

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