It’s springtime at the CMH heli-hiking areas, but you’d never guess it. A heavy blanket of snow still covers everything, and the glaciers are hardly distinguishable from the surrounding world of snow.
The Columbia is the biggest river in the Pacific Northwest region of North America for good reason: The Columbia Mountains that feed the river are some of the snowiest mountains on earth and last winter was a doozy. Right now, it feels like winter will never relinquish its authority over high country, so I’m posting this photo that I took during a CMH Summer Adventure in the Bobbie Burns as a reminder of what lies beneath all that snow:
Over the next few weeks, the sun will send the snowfields running down the mountainsides, the streams will carry the melted snow into the Columbia River, and the high country of the Columbias will be transformed into the splendors of alpine summertime in a mountain range that is surely one of the seven wonders of the mountain world.
The Columbia Mountains receive enough rainfall to be categorized as a rainforest. In a twist of alpine magic, however, most of the precipitation falls during the winter months in the form of snow, allowing the strong, high-altitude sunshine during the summer months to transform the deep snow banks of April into the gargantuan wildflowers of July.
The juxtaposition of standing in a field of wildflowers as high as you are tall, while looking out over a 10,000 year-old gemstone-blue glacier, combines in an almost unearthly background for an experience that stays with you for the rest of your life.
Be patient - the deep snow now will only make the high-country summer that much sweeter.