Winter 2021-22

When I was a kid, I used to imagine I heard Santa’s reindeer on our roof on Christmas Eve. Never mind that I hadn’t fallen asleep yet and it was probably only 8 or 9 p.m., which I’m pretty sure would’ve been too early for Santa to be hitting the Front Range of Colorado. I mean, he was probably still on the East Coast. But that clicking sound! Reindeer hooves for sure. Of course they were up there, clopping around while Santa slipped down our chimney and did his thing. I recall more than once jumping out of bed and running to the window where, my cheek pressed against the cold glass, I strained my eyes trying to catch a glimpse of what was going on up there.

This fall, my childhood imaginings were validated. At the Goldendale Reindeer farm, owners Tanya Clarke and Daniel Connell told me that reindeer have a tendon in their legs that makes a clicking sound. That must be what I heard up on our roof all those years ago. Who knew? I learned a lot of other things about reindeer during my visit, and even got to feed the reindeer. You can read about the newly-opened Goldendale Reindeer farm beginning on page 10, and plan your own visit to see these majestic animals.

It wasn’t intentional, but this has turned out to be somewhat of an “animals issue.” Be sure to check out David Hanson’s piece on Hood River wildlife biologist Jocelyn Akins, who founded the Cascades Carnivore Project (page 32). Akins spends her days deep in the Cascade Mountains studying some of the range’s rarest inhabitants — wolverine, Canada lynx, fisher, and the Cascade red fox.

And don’t miss Don Campbell’s story on the Mosier Misfits, a scrappy sled dog team owned and trained by Thad McCracken (page 50). McCracken has 26 active and retired dogs at his Mosier compound, and races many of them on a circuit that takes him to Wyoming, Montana and Alaska during the winter.

There’s a lot more in these pages as well, including a story about Hood River-based Wilderton and its zero-proof botanical spirits (page 22); a piece on chocolatier Jessica Wright and her business, Columbia Gorge Confections (page 14); and a photo essay on winter raptors (page 42), among other stories. We’ve also put together a special wellness advertising section highlighting some of the Gorge area’s medical professionals and health initiatives, starting on page 36. We hope you enjoy this issue. Have a great winter!

— Janet Cook, Editor