January 27, 2017 – Mary’s Peak

With several long days recently, I needed a day off from work to take care of a bunch of chores at home, but wanted to get some turns in also. Mary’s Peak, the closest snow to my house, was an obvious choice that would allow me to kill two birds with one stone. The forecast was calling for sun, but I set out in a sea of thick fog around 7:00 am and headed west across the valley. 45 minutes or so later, I turned off of highway 20 and onto the Peak Road. A few minutes later I was out of the fog and could see it would be a beautiful day. I drove as far as I could (farther than I anticipated), parked the car, loaded my pack and headed out.

The Suby in the morning light

I booted across the lower meadow, and was a bit surprised as I crested the hill to see a decent amount of logging activity where I usually slip through the trees towards Parker Creek. I knew the forest service was working to restore some of the meadows on the Peak that have been lost to encroaching trees over the years, but it was still a surprise to see the big logs on the landing with Grass Mountain in the background…

Looking out towards Grass Mountain

After making a few turns down to Parker Creek, I crossed the creek and slipped onto the main meadow, with excellent views out to the south and west, including Grass Mountain, where I first hunted blacktail deer as a 12 year old with my dad…


As I skinned up the meadow, I was reminded of why the Peak is such a special place to me. Looking north, Mt Rainier, St Helens and Adams were all visible, and looking west, I could see Newport and the waves breaking on the beach.

Looking west to Newport

A few minutes later, I arrived at the top of the Peak and as usual was rewarded with great views across the fog filled Willamette Valley towards the peaks of the Oregon Cascades. It’s always surreal to see the sea of fog with just a few high points sticking out.

Looking out over the valley
Jeff above the fog

After snapping a few photos across the valley, I moved the tripod I’d packed with me and snapped a few pictures looking west, before packing my pack and split skiing down the road to the northern meadow…

Looking northwest
Looking north to Hood

Once down to the northern meadow, I switched lenses and shot a few photos of the volcanoes to the north, including the shot below of Mt Hood. It’s pretty amazing how much detail is captured in the below photo from the top of the Peak. Zigzag Canyon is clearly visible over 100 miles away…

Telephoto shot of Hood

After screwing around with the camera, it was time to head back to the top and get ready for some turns. Before dropping in, I couldn’t help myself and snapped a few more photos, including the shot below of my split in ski mode, with a Dead Guy ale on the picnic table at the summit…

Split skis and a Dead Guy

The turns down were pretty nice, even in the thin coverage, and since the meadow is pretty low angle, it’s a nice fun cruiser. I was able to link turns all the way back down to Parker Creek.

Looking out to the ocean
Looking back at my work

I made the short hike back to the car, and was heading home by 11:30, meeting my goal to get some turns in as well as a half day of work at the house. Before long, I was back in the fog of the valley, and the sun on the peak was only a memory. On the way home, I stopped briefly to shoot a shot of the barn below in the valley fog. Something about barns and fog always catch my eye…

Random barn along Hwy 99

All in all, it wasn’t a bad way to wrap up the first month of a new year, and I’m looking forward to see what 2017 has in store…