Ponderosa Trees in Snow
Inversion Redemption, Sisters, Oregon
Ponderosa Trees in Snow. I’ve been to this specific grove of ponderosa trees many times in the past. It is located near the quaint town of Sisters, Oregon where my wife Debbie Putnam and I first moved to our home state of Oregon. The grove is on a forest service road, not far from Sisters. I’ve always been drawn to it and have shot it a couple time in the past. In summer the scene is a little too…..dense, kind of looks like a wall of green with some cinnamon colored tree trunks in the mix. In autumn, it improves as there are some aspen trees scattered about in the background which give the scene a burst of yellow but its still not quite enough. In winter is when the grove truly shines.
Central Oregon frequently experiences temperature inversion in winter, during which, cold air settles in low lying areas, drops below the dew point and frost clouds are formed. The immediate results of winter inversions are cold temperatures and an elegant frosting on leafy foliage. It is a bit of a nuisance for locals as it means dense over cast skies to go along with the cold temperatures and warmer temperatures at high elevation ski slopes. Not a great combination. Well, let’s focus on the pretty frosting on foliage. Last summer when I visited this particular Ponderosa grove, I shot the scene, processed my exposures and was a bit disappointed. I theorized that the scene would really come to life during a cold winter inversion, so I made a mental note to return, which happened a couple days ago. The snow was deep which covered much of the less than attractive undergrowth. The frost coating was sublime which really made the beautiful cinnamon ponderosa trunks glow. I’m thrilled with the conditions I captured as I’m a big fan of Ponderosa Trees and they lent a wonderful splash of color to this Oregon winter landscape photograph. This scene is my inversion redemption!
Even passive visitors will notice that not all Ponderosa Trees are the same color. For the first 150 years of a Ponderosa Tree’s life, their trunks are nearly black. Later in life, old growth Ponderosa bark evolves to the rich burnt orange color for which they are known. Ponderosas thrive in low to moderate precipitation ranges where fires eliminate the competition of faster growing, more shade tolerant tree species. The largest Ponderosa Pine Tree in the world is located in Central Oregon’s Lapine State Park and is estimated to be over 500 years old, while the oldest Ponderosa in the world is located in Utah and is over 900 years old. A favorite method of identifying Ponderosa trees in the field is to smell the barks which has a wonderful vanilla aroma.