It snowed in Moscow for the first time this season on Thursday. And although the accumulation didn’t amount to much in town, the mountains were turned white the next day. But two days of sunshine, and evidence of the snow is all but gone. The mountains around Moscow are back to their baren self. But at 5000 feet, winter has begun. Today I drove up to the Bald Mountain lookout tower on Palouse Divide, mostly to find a geocache, but also to enjoy the view, hike in the forest, and see just how much snow may have fallen at higher elevations. It turns out the answer is a lot, but not really that much.
As I neared the summit, the road suddenly became blanketed in a couple inches of snow. It’s nothing I couldn’t handle, and someone had been up there before me leaving tracks for me to follow, but it was enough to cause some concern without snow tires on the car. I did make it up and back just fine and in time to enjoy some late afternoon views before the sun set and the clouds covered the sky. The last mile to the summit was surreal. There was even snow on the trees giving the impression that winter had freshly settled upon the mountain top. In the distance, higher peaks were covered in snow as well. And though it was a blistering warm 50-degree day in town, temperatures at the tower were only a few degrees above freezing. This is Fall in the northwest. Instead of bright colors on the trees, we slowly watch winter descend down the mountains to engulf the whole area. Maybe this year we’ll actually get a proper snowfall.