Tuesday, October 1, 2013


If you're like me, when you make a decision you figure things are going to go just as you planned. How's that working out for you? Read on to see what happened to our plans for the tram ride to the top of Mt. Howard (8,165 ft.) near Joseph, Oregon.
A little backstory: In late August, after I'd attended the Oregon Christian Writers Conference and was busy with arrangements to attend the American Christian Writers Conference in September, my husband came home from work one day and said, "I wonder if I could have 72 hours of your time?"
Oops! Have I been that busy? Of course I said yes, and asked what he had in mind.
Turned out a trip to Joseph, Oregon, to ride a tram to the top of the mountain was rumbling around on his bucket list, and he wanted us to do it before the ride closed down for the season.
So we made reservations at a lodge near the tram (picture of the lodge through the trees taken on the morning of our ride), and left last Thursday for our adventure.
Right here I have to tell you that Joseph is just about as far away from our home as one can get and still be in Oregon. Thursday's drive took 11 hours, but we were excited about the ride and hikes we planned for Friday, so we didn't care.
Friday morning we drove to the tram so we could get in line and spend our day on the trails at the top of the mountain. Parasailers with huge packs were in front of us, excited about their upcoming flights down from the mountain top.
Then one of the men operating the tram came by the line and told us that there'd been an unexpected, unseasonal snow the night before. Snow on the mountaintop, frozen pipes at the Summit Grill, but not to worry--the tram was working fine to take us up.
Once we arrived, the good news was the snowy mountains were beautiful! So much prettier than they would have been without the frosting.
The bad news was the hiking trails on top were covered with a foot and a half of snow. The few people who arrived before we did had blazed narrow trails out to some of the lookout points, but more than half of the trails were buried. The wind chill kept the temperature around 25 degrees--brisk, to say the least. (Picture of the patio dining area below!)
None of us tram riders were dressed for snow. And there's where the unexpected joy of the day came in. Everyone was slogging through snow halfway up our calves with more snow in our shoes. We were wet, we were cold, but the camaraderie was amazing. If someone wanted to pass on the narrow trails, we'd hold each other up so we wouldn't slip and fall. A couple from Arkansas were overwhelmed and said they'd never seen so much snow in their lives. "Where are you from?" was a question we all asked one another. People offered to stop and take our picture, and we did the same for them. I think I walked about a mile, and my husband went farther up a trail that looked too imposing to tempt me.
To say this trip didn't go as planned would be an understatement. But the smiles and friendliness we encountered are memories that I'll keep forever--memories I wouldn't have if the circumstances had been perfect.
"In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps." Proverbs 16:9


  1. I enjoyed reading about your trip to the Wallowa Lake area. I used to make that 12-hour drive (twelve hours with two tiny children in the car) about three times a year to visit my sister. And yes, I used the exact same phrase to describe to others where my twin sister lived...as far away as you can get from here and still be in Oregon! :)

    We've been up there at the top of the tram area when it began to snow, as well. I'd say that this was an early snow for them, because it seemed like it usually didn't snow until Halloween or later...but maybe that was down in the valley itself.

    Glad you had such a wonderful time! Joseph and Wallowa Lake is one of the most beautiful parts of Oregon!

  2. Thanks, Julieanne! We drove home on back roads instead of the freeways. Slower, but much more interesting. Gorgeous countryside.

  3. Fun, Ann. What an adventure and something you will always remember. Plus, now you can add that unexpected feeling and all that snow to one of your stories someday.

  4. I missed this back in October, but how nice to enjoy it now. Gorgeous views and a special day - thank you for sharing.