Newsletter, November 2021

WILLAMETTE CHAPTER – OREGON NORDIC CLUB
P. O. Box 181
Salem, OR 97308

oncwillamette.org

    Welcome to the 2021-2022 ski season.  La Nina conditions have formed in the Pacific, our long term forecast calls for a cooler, wetter winter and Santiam Pass received a couple of light snowfalls.  We can hope for plenty of good skiing this year.  Here are some preseason remarks from our Treasurer (and backcountry guru), Bob Young

Thank you members

    I know it has been another trying year for all of us with normal routines interrupted, but ski season is just around the corner and it’s time again to renew your ONC Willamette Chapter membership.  With the state dues increased to $10 per member unit we would be falling behind on account balance if we had meeting place fees to pay, which we have again decided to suspend for this year due to COVID protocols.  Other fixed fees for us like the web hosting and post office box keep going up as well.  So, thank you to all of you who continue to support our efforts to promote and further cross country skiing.  We are going to work on setting up online membership payments but such technology is beyond my skill base so I’ll be relying on our webmaster.  If all your member info is the same, all I need is your name and signature on the form and I won’t have to check all the rest.  [a membership form can be downloaded or printed at https://oncwillamette.org/membership]

    Also, because we are not having regular meetings, we will not be selling sno-park permits.  Fortunately, ODOT has made online purchase very simple.  You can print out a temporary pass and they mail you the real thing within days.  Since I was hoping for the snow to continue to build this week, I already got my pass.  Imagine my disappointment with all this moisture coming with warmer weather.

    Thanks also to all our volunteers who have helped with trail work and firewood stocking at the shelters.  We had everything in pretty good shape but already getting reports of more trees coming down across the trails.  Keep us posted on what you see.  The Detroit district has not officially opened their shelters but is not locking them off and we have Mountain View and the South Loop shelter stocked with wood.

    So, get your skis prepped and your bodies conditioned and let’s get out there.  We can do this safely and conscientiously.  Our tour master will have more to say on all of this, but I for one am looking forward to seeing you on the trails (and off, of course).

    Bob Young, treasurer 

[STILL] SKIING IN THE TIME OF COVID-19

    We had hoped rapid development and deployment of vaccines would end the Coronavirus pandemic and shift us back to normal skiing and club activities this season.  Sadly, high rates of infection and hospitalization continue due to slow progress towards full vaccination and the highly transmissable Delta variant.  Fortunately, restrictions have been eased as more and more people are vaccinated.  Our club will resume some of our normal activities, but will continue our compliance with guidelines and restrictions placed by the Oregon Health Authority (OHA),  We strongly urge individual members to do the same.  The OHA website is: https://govstatus.egov.com/OR-OHA-COVID-19.  Check this site for current news and links to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other sources of reliable information.     

    We realize that individuals face different levels of risk from COVID-19 based on age, health, employment, family associations, vaccination and other factors.  We urge members to consider their risks carefully before deciding whether (and how) to ski this season.  If anyone chooses to forego skiing as a precaution, we respect that decision.  But even if you are not skiing, we hope you will remain connected with our club to keep in touch with other members and stay abreast of skiing news.  A club roster in attached with this Newsletter so you can contact other members.  We also urge you to check the club’s website regularly for the latest information.  Please feel free to contact Board members by email or phone with your comments and suggestions.

    Here are the Willamette Chapter’s plans for this ski season:

    The club will continue volunteer activities to improve and maintain ski trails and shelters; volunteer work is done under Forest Service guidelines designed to minimize the risk of COVID-19 infection.

    Although current Oregon guidelines permit indoor meetings, there are restrictions.  Our club decided to forego meetings again this season and focus on our on-snow activities.     

    Overnight trips will be left to the discretion of individual members; but should follow all COVID-19 precautions.

    The Willamette Chapter will resume schedule tours this season and will help skiers connect with each other to plan their own tours.  

    We hope to revive our Ski School this winter; more about this in the December Newsletter.

    Ski tours (and volunteer projects) require the following precautions:

    1.  Skiers who feel ill, have symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough, sudden loss of smell or taste), receive a positive test for COVID-19 or have had recent contact with someone with a positive test; will stay home and avoid contact with others.   

    2.  Skiers may choose to carpool or drive separately to trailheads; masks should be worn if carpooling and proof of vaccination may be required.

    3.  Skiers will maintain a social distance of 6’ (or more) at all times, in parking lots, on trails and during lunch stops and rest breaks.  

    4.  Masks covering nose and mouth will be worn whenever social distancing cannot be maintained. 

    Skiing can be done with these COVID-19 precautions, though no set of precautions guarantees absolute safety.  If you have assessed your risks of COVID-19, are comfortable with the known risks and are willing to adopt and maintain these precautions, our club is ready to help you ski this winter.  For everyone’s sake, please take this pandemic seriously. Use these recommended precautions for your safety and the safety of other people.  Let’s all stay safe and enjoy the winter.

TOUR REPORT (from last spring):

    June 5, Saturday:  we kept skiing as long as there was snow!  Seven skiers turned out for the nearly annual Tam McArthur Rim tour.   There were  spectacular views as always; but the snow and weather were “suboptimal”.  The  pack had melted out to bare ground in numerous places requiring many detours and hikes, the surface was deeply pocked and rippled which added to the challenge,  and there was a howling wind.  Perhaps the worse Tam tour in ten trips.  But the worst Tam tour is still very good.  Next year can only be better and we hope you will join us.

6/5/21:  Broken Top from Tam McArthur Rim                photo by Jim Todd

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES:

    The Willamette Chapter has an active volunteer program assisting the Forest Service with ski trail clearing and marking; shelter construction and maintenance; and firewood stocking.  Thank you volunteers!  If you have questions about out volunteer projects or would like to join one, contact Mark Olson (503x559x0728) or Jim Todd (503x378x7003).

 This summer and fall eighteen club members logged over 500 volunteer hours on Willamette and Deschutes National Forest projects.  We scouted trails for later clearing; logged, brushed and marked ski trails; and stocked firewood at five shelters.  Special thanks to Mark Olson and Dave Carter for bringing their splitters to our wood stocking parties, to Mt. Jefferson Snowmobile Club for collecting and bucking logs for stocking Santiam Pass shelters, to Jessie and Ashley of Deschutes NF and Eric and Brandon of Willamette NF for bringing  trucks and hauling wood to the shelters.  Photos are attached below.  

7/24/21:  Brushing the South Loop Ski Trail                    photo by Jim Todd

9/25/21:  Placing blue diamonds on Brandenburg Loop        photo by Aaron Bremiller

10/02/21:  Stocking firewood at North Blowout Shelter        photo by Frank Hoffma

10/16/21:  splitting firewood for Mt. View Shelter            photo by Frank Hoffman

SNO-PARK PERMITS

           As Bob noted above, the Willamette Chapter will not sell Sno Park permits in the absence of our regular monthly meetings.  Sno Park permits may be purchased online at the Oregon DMV: https://dmv2u.oregon.gov/eServices/_/.  Annual permits purchased directly from DMV cost $25—no handling fee.  The process takes only a few minutes and includes a downloadable copy you can print and use immediately while waiting for your permit to arrive in the mail.  Buy a permit and support Sno Park plowing.  Bob and I already have ours!

ANNOUNCEMENTS
    The Newsletter now includes an Announcement Section. There members can post ski related items for sale, cross-country related questions, inquiries about conditions and suggestions for ski trips. Please send your announcements to Bob, Jim or Denise for inclusion in the Newsletter. Another good place for these items is on the website, ONCWillamette.org

    1.  Bob and Jim have their skis waxed and standing by the door.  If you are ready to go, too; then when the first real snow happens, phone Bob (503x 621×6626) for a B Tour or Jim (503x378x7003) for a Beginner/A Tour. 

    2.  Jeff Starr has pair of Garmont Excursion 3-pin boots for sale.  They are Euro size 26.5, in good condition, for $40. 

Tour Ratings: A key to the Tour Rating codes: 

    “Beginner” = Easy, short distances on flat or gentle slopes; appropriate for first time skiers.

    
“A” = Easy, distances up to 5 or 6 miles with a few slopes; basic skills are required; some of these may not be suitable for 1st time skiers. 

    “B” = Intermediate or experienced; distances of 6 to 12 miles or possible elevation gains of 2000 feet; may include steeper sections; some downhill skills are required. 

    “C” = Advanced, longer with greater elevation gains; includes both trails and off-trail with frequent steep terrain.

    “D” = Expert, very difficult or long; possible backcountry travel and/or ski mountaineering. 

2020-2021 OFFICERS & BOARD MEMBERS:     

            Available                                President

            Jeanne Miller                          Vice President

            Bob Young                              Treasurer & Membership

            Denise Sanders                        Webmeister

            Genice Rabe                            Newsletter Editor

            Jim Todd                                 Day Tour Chair

David Forkner ONC State Board Rep & Board Member

            Pam Wojcik                             Overnight Trip Coordinator & Board Member  

            Mark Olson                            Volunteer Coordinator & Board Member      

            Christine Young                      Board Member

Available Board Member

Tour Report – Tuesday, May 4th

It’s not over yet! Tuesday, May 4th Howard Simon and I (Bianca Klar) skied towards North ridge of Mt. Washington. We took a chance on possibly facing some ugly conditions, but knowing that there is still plenty of snow left.

Day started out cool and drizzly but not below freezing, thus keeping the snow in good condition. We started out via South trail from Ray Benson snow park. There was some debris on the trail but we managed to even have a glide. Only a couple of barren patches that we easily skied around. Before we reached Brandenburg shelter, on the right side, facing Mt. Washington we found and a wide opening in the trees that gave us a good view of the terrain we needed to cross in order to reach the North side of the Washington ridge.

It was like a gate, (picture of it included). We basically took a bee line for the ridge, crossing old burned forest, climbing over gentle ridges, and going around some ravines between those ridges.

The crux was when we reached the last band of unburned forest. Now we were above 5500 ft. crossing some frozen steep patches with lots of debris on the snow. As we were exploring the terrain and looking for a best way through, we saw that there were more leveled sections way below us and way above us. Naturally we were between them:-).

It didn’t last too long and we came out on a beautiful open face with clean, soft snow right below the saddle for which we were heading. We zig-zagged our way up to the ridge at 6360 ft. and took a well earned break with glorious views.

Going down was fun! It took us 6.75 miles to get to it and on the way back we took a bit shorter route. Total 12.6 miles and 2199 ft. elevation gain with all our ups and downs.

Photos and report by Bianca Klar

…Tour ReportMay 2, Sunday:

by Jim Todd photos
by Dayna Svendsen

…a little misty rain, some sleet, a dusting of snow and plenty of afternoon sunshine. It was all good. We had intended a last foray north of Santiam Pass, but the rapid melt left too many bare patches and lodgepole tangles for pleasant skiing on south facing slopes leading up to Three Fingered Jack.

Instead we parked at Hoodoo and pinned our hopes on the plateau west of the downhill runs. After a steep climb we found, once again, a hidden stash of skiable snow that holds later than most surrounding terrain. Even better, we discovered the Big Hoodoo thinning project has opened it up for rambles in all directions (CHECK IT OUT NEXT SEASON!). We wandered southwards around Hoodoo, yo-yo’d down and back up in a few places, enjoyed the views and cruised Hoodoo’s Skyline XC trail and Over Easy downhill run back to the lodge. Bob, Dayna, Fiona and I a fine day of spring skiing.

by Jim Todd , photos by Dayna Svendsen

Hoodoo View

April 27, Tuesday: View from the Top of Hoodoo by Keith Hodgins NUFF SAID!

Tour Report

By Jim Todd

April 20, Tuesday: Jessica Larson, Trails Volunteer Coordinator for Deschutes NF, joined me at 0900 for a survey of Ray Benson Ski Trails. Santiam Pass still has 3-5′ of snow, but high temperatures and our freeze/thaw cycle have taken a toll. Tree wells are deepening and adding a challenge in some places. The North Loop was a bit icy at first and rutted by steady use, so we headed off trail onto smoother snow until we reached the PCT trail junction. By this time the snow had softened and trail skiing was easier, but ruts from heavy usage were still unpleasant.

Throughout the day we veered off trail into smoother, untracked snow whenever possible. We followed the North Loop to North Blowout Shelter and then took Circle Lake to Island Junction Shelter. Both shelters still have some firewood, but it was more comfortable to sit outside and enjoy lunch in the sun. We continued on Circle Lake to the junction with South Loop and Two Buttes, then zigzagged back to Ray Benson via Two Buttes, Claypool Buttes and finally the South Loop.

The trails would be pleasant skiing again with a little fresh snow, but right now skiing is better off trail in the Big Hoodoo thinning area that stretches from Ray Benson to the Santiam Wagon Rd. between Big Lake Rd. and the PCT. Enjoy some spring skiing while the snow lasts.

Trip Report

By Bianca Klar

On April 18th, beautiful Sunday, the 5 of us decided to take advantage of a still solid snow pack in the mountains. We (Bob Y, Fiona C, Dayna S, Howard S, and Bianca K,) proceeded on a three lake tour; Summit, Martin, and Booth lake loop. When we started at 9:20 am from Santiam snow park the temp was already slightly above freezing. As the snow was beginning to soften up we had a decent grip ascending via Skyline trail to the ledge at the West side of the crater. By the time we got to the top of PCT, snow was soft but not sticky. After enjoying beautiful views we tackled the hardest part of the trip, finding a survivable way to Summit lake. It was not for the faint of heart, to put it lightly, and we managed:-). The snow melt seems to be more consequential on a steep slopes, making them steeper. There was lots of debris in the trees and the tree wells were deep.

Emoji

Once we descended to the Summit lake we enjoyed well earned lunch and the downhill reprieve. We could see turquoise water under the snow on Martin lake and Booth lake. We linger around unnamed, lovely turquoise lake partially melted and took our time going back with many beautiful views of the Cascades jewels.

April 11 – Cinder Summit Success

By Frank Hoffman

Sunday Dave Dietrich and I headed out from Potato Hill snopark so I could make another attempt to reach the top of the Red Cinder cones just north of Sand Mountain, a destination that has been on my list for a number of years. There was about 1/2″ of new snow on a very solid base and very few people headed that way. We took the lower half of the Hash Brown loop to the road that drops into snowmobile territory and took their tracks out to the old Santiam Wagon Road. It was a beautiful sunny day with a light breeze. My suspicion that the south facing slopes of the cinder cones had lost a lot of snow were confirmed but there was still enough to find a path around brush and stick mainly to clear areas to make our way to the top of the east and middle cones. The views were fantastic but the stiff cold wind at the top quickly drove us off after getting some nice photos and panoramics. The crater was cool to look down into but too many trees to ski into. I also confirmed that a circumnavigation of the cones would get into some densely trees areas. I got in a few good turns on the way down but it was tricky due to the angle and obstacles. With more snow it would be a blast. I think the effort for the climb and descent were well worth it. We retraced our tracks and other than the shady areas being fast and the sunny spot causing face plant stops it was a pretty easy return.

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES

The Willamette Chapter has an active volunteer program assisting the Forest Service with ski trail clearing and marking as well as shelter construction, maintenance and firewood stocking. Thank you volunteers! Please call Mark Olson (503x559x0728) or Jim Todd (503x378x7003) for more information about our club’s volunteer program.

During the ski season Willamette Chapter members help the Forest Service maintain and improve ski trails by reporting trail and shelter conditions. Please help the Deschutes and Willamette National Forests use their limited resources efficiently by sending a Nordic Trail Report when you ski their marked trails. Contact Mark or Jim about trail or Sno-Park conditions and they will forward the information to the appropriate Forest Service office.

Once the snow melts our volunteers survey ski trails to record conditions and then begin clearing brush, removing saplings and downed trees and placing more blue diamonds in preparation for next season. Please sign up with Cascade Volunteers https://cascadevols.org/ so you can help us.

If you can’t wait until the snow melts, Cascade Volunteers and Willamette NF are holding a tree planting event in the Terwilliger Burn on April 17-18. Details are at https://cascadevols.org/event/terwilliger-tree-planting-event/ .

Volunteer Training

By Jim Todd

Willamette National Forest and Cascade Volunteers are offering a great opportunity for volunteers to obtain training and certification in chainsaw and crosscut saw use on volunteer trail projects. Chainsaw classes are May 8-9 and Crosscut classes May 22-23, at Fish Lake Guard Station. These classes are free, but do require students to sign up as Willamette National Forest volunteers through Cascade Volunteers. First Aid/CPR certification is also required, but Cascade Volunteers is offering comprehensive Wilderness First Aid classes on May 7 and May 21, for only $25.

I will be taking the classes May 21-23, and would be happy to answer questions about them and about the Forest Service volunteer programs, if you phone me at 503x378x7003. You can also obtain more information by visiting the Cascade Volunteers website at https://cascadevols.org/ or by emailing Beth Dayton, Cascade Volunteers Saw Program Coordinator at mailto:sawprogram@cascadevols.org.

2021-04-05 Mon Cottonwood ski

By Frank Hoffman

I parked at the 801 road at 8:30: 26°, clear, calm. Snowpack icy, 10” less than a week ago. I skinned east to the storage area, SW to the PCT-North Loop junction, then continued on the North Loop and Circle Lake trails to Circle Lake. Just north of the lake, I entered the unsigned north leg of the Cottonwood trail and turned east.

This trail was created about 15 years ago, following the 2003 B&B burn; eight years ago when I last traveled the trail the terrain was still quite open. as soon as the trail descended into the first valley, it became clear, new lodgepole growth was more than I’d anticipated. I was able to skirt most of it fairly easily by keeping to higher ground to the north, and the view from the ridge where the trail turned south was well worth the trip.

Below and to the east was a pond I hadn’t noticed on previous trips. As I turned south, it became clear that the entire valley through, which the east leg of the trail passed, was mostly filled with thickets of lodgepole 6-8’ above snow level, with shallow but close-spaced tree wells, which, in combination with interlacing branches above, made progress a slow affair—with near-zero visibility of the route ahead. After some trial and error, I found better conditions by following a series of low ridges to the west of the original trail: these ridges had less tree cover presumably due to drier conditions than in the valleys.

As I neared the 500 road, I left the post-burn area and entered a relatively open hemlock forest to reach the low point of the tour at the 500 (or Fireline) road. Conditions remained quite icy. I met a couple of skiers at the 500-Circle Lake trail junction who’d come down the Circle Lake trail and were about to return the same way. After lunch at the shelter, I followed their tracks back on the Circle Lake trail, removing skins at the Cascade crest on the North Loop for good spring skiing the rest of the way back to the 801 road.

My track log showed 8.2 mi, 510’ elevation gain. The original route of the Cottonwood trail after it turns south is so overgrown that it wouldn’t make much sense to revive it. Re-establishing a spur trail out to the expansive views from the ridge just before the turn south could be worthwhile—and is quite possible even now for those who feel comfortable with a little off-trail travel. Distance out is .8 mi with 100’ elevation loss