Near the summit of Table Mountain on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge, hiker Ray Phung stops along the trail to take in the unique forest. At this elevation winds whip the clouds through the tree tops, leaving a layer of hoar frost. This crunchy crystalline coating sticks to the wind swept side of exposed needles and limbs, occasionally the high winds break small chunks free resulting in what appears to be a very light snowfall.
The winter of 2013 and so far into 2014 has been an exceptionally dry year in the Cascades, perfect for those looking to enjoy a steep hike along an exposed ridge line, but the tiny amount of water that freezes to surfaces directly from the clouds is hardly enough to keep the region moist during the traditionally dry summers. Only time will tell if precipitation in the cascades will increase in the coming months. If not the region may be in store for another harsh fire season.
- James Adam Taylor
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