NOVEMBER 2020 NEWSLETTER ONC Willamette Chapter

SNO Park permits may be purchased online at:

Skiing in Time of Covid-19

The Coronavirus pandemic is affecting all of our lives in nearly every way. But with winter approaching, we can be sure that if snow falls there could be skiing. The Oregon Nordic Club will still be dedicated to skiers and cross-country skiing. However, our activities will be changed by COVID-19. The Willamette Chapter’s board has developed the plan below for the 2020-2021 season.

First, we acknowledge that COVID-19 is a serious threat to health and safety. Our club will comply with guidelines and restrictions placed by the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and we strongly urge individual members to do the same. The OHA website is: Check this site for current news and links to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other sources of reliable information.

            Second, we realize that individuals face different levels of risk from COVID-19based on age, health, employment, family associations 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.

            The Willamette Chapter will post more ski-related information on its website and, thanks to Genice Rabe, is reviving our regular Newsletter sent to members via email and postal mail.  A current member list will be sent separately to all members to help you connect with other skiers. We encourage members to sign up for the email edition as it saves time and club expense.

Please feel free to contact Board members by email or phone with your comments and suggestions.

            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.

            Regular monthly meetings will not be held this season due to the increased risk of COVID-19 infection in indoor settings.

            Overnight trips are suspended because of difficulties arranging travel and lodging in ways that minimize COVID-19 risk.

            The Willamette Chapter will not schedule tours this season, but will help skiers connect with each other and plan their own tours, if they wish to ski. 

            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 will drive to trailheads separately; only immediate family or household members may carpool.

            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.  Skiers will carry facemasks and wear masks whenever circumstances force them to be within 6’ of others.  

            5.  Skiers will carry hand sanitizer and use it.

            6.  Skiers will bring all necessary clothing, equipment, water, food, etc. and will not share these items—except in emergencies.

            Skiing can be done with these COVID-19 precautions, as Bob Young’s article on last spring’s “socially distanced” tours demonstrates.  If you have assessed your risks of COVID-19, are comfortable with the known risks and are willing to adopt and maintainthese precautions, our club is ready to help you ski this winter.  For everyone, please take the pandemic seriously. Adopt recommended precautions for your sake and the sake of others.  Let’s stay safe and hope for an effective vaccine and better skiing next year.

Santiam Canyon Fires and What’s Open

            September was a wildfire disaster in Oregon and the Santiam Canyon along Hwy 22 was especially hard hit.  Large stretches of forest were destroyed and all the communities from Mehama to Idanha sustained damage.  Hwy 22 has reopened, but fire cleanup is still in progress and there is a 40 mph speed limit from Gates to Pamelia Creek.  Drive with caution if you travel Hwy 22 and be aware that there is no longer a gas station between Mill City and Sisters.    

            Sections of the Willamette NF are currently closed to the public.  To find what is open, please check the website of the Willamette National Forest and Deschutes National Forest.  Closure information can be found at: As of October 19, 2020, the Willamette National Forest said everything outside the burn zones are open.  For a detailed description including a great map for Willamette National Forest, see

Membership Renewal

            Please renew your membership for the 2020-2021 season.  It is only $20.  You will receive access to all inside club news and satisfaction of supporting Club efforts to promote and improve cross-country skiing for everyone.  You can renew by completing and returning the attached form and your check.  The membership form is also available at  

          The Club has ongoing expenses including distribution of the Newsletter, maintenance of the website, fees to the Oregon Nordic Club Organization, and insurance despite Covid-19 complications.  And, of course, we are looking forward to all of our sponsored trips and ski school in 2021-2022. 

The Willamette Chapter of the Oregon Nordic Club Website

          On the website you can review all Club news, post news, find volunteer activities, locate rental and retail sources for ski equipment, find descriptions of our favorite trails, some contact information, and much more.  We will be sending out separately a list of members and their contact information.  We do not put that in the Newsletters or Website for member protection.

            The website address is  Only the Newsletter Archive in the website is password protected.  The password is “Freshsnow2020”.

2020-2021 Officers and 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 BoardMember

Pam Wojcik Overnight Trip Coordinator Board Member

Mark Olson Volunteer Coordinator & Board Member

            Christine Young                      Board Member

            Available                                 Board Member

Where to Ski when the First Snow falls  

            Each autumn there is an overwhelming desire to slap on skis and make tracks as soon as the ODOT cams show white at the passes.  But sadly, early snows may be a pitiful dusting, leaving ugly rocks leering through the white by afternoon.  What is a desperate skier to do?  Here is a suggestion for satisfying skiing on the thinnest of snowpacks.

            Two rules govern skiing on shallow snow:  

            1.  Go high.

            2.   Find a road.  

            There is almost always greater snow depth at higher elevation and roads offer a smoother surface with fewer rocks to savage your ski bases.  A paved road can be skied with 3-6” of snow and most gravel roads with 6-10”. 

            In our area Rule 1 takes us to Santiam Pass; but Rule 2 excludes the Ray Benson ski trails and the B&B burn north of the pass.  What is left?  The easiest option is Big Lake Rd. south of Ray Benson SnoPark—paved for two miles to Big Lake.  True, eager snowshoers, snowmobilers and off-roaders will be there, too; but the road is wide and there is skiable snow on the shoulders.  And if a skier perseveres, there are options with greater solitude and smoother snow.  Just one mile south is a junction with FS 860.  This gravel road goes west behind Hayrick and can take you all the way to Sand Mountain.  It’s a marked snowmobile route, but ‘bilers rarely use it when the snow is thin. There are numerous side roads and somewhere you will find a place to make fresh tracks in untouched snow.  Bianca, Bob and I have had excellent early season tours in this area the past three years.  Check it out.                 –Jim Todd  

Volunteer Opportunities

            The Willamette Chapter has an active volunteer program assisting the Forest Service with ski trail clearing and marking; shelter maintenance; and firewood stocking.  Thank you volunteers!  All volunteer activities on National Forests were halted during the early stages of the Coronavirus Pandemic, but volunteer projects have resumed with COVID-19 precautions in place.  For volunteer projects on the Willamette National Forest it is now necessary for volunteers to register individually through Cascade Volunteers at  You can call Mark Olson (503x559x0728) or Jim Todd (503x378x7003) for more information about our club’s volunteer program.  

          Volunteer Project:  Oct. 31, Saturday:  Willamette Chapter volunteers will be working at Maxwell SnoPark.  We will repair the roof at Mt. View Shelter and replace missing signposts at trail junctions.  We will also clear trails, if time allows.  Contact Jim Todd 503x378x7003 if you have questions of wish to sign up for this project. 

          Volunteer Reports

            In August Jeff, Jim and Ron scouted ski trails at Ray Benson, Maxwell and Big Springs to check for downed trees and other obstructions.  Most trails are passable, but as usual, there were sections that need clearing.  Reports were sent to the Forest Service and other volunteer groups for action this fall.

            Oct. 17, 2020:  Nine Willamette Chapter volunteers joined the Mt. Jefferson Snowmobile Club and Deschutes NF staff stocking firewood at Santiam Pass Shelters. Even with COVID precautions (social distancing, masks, and mountain biking to shelters to avoid carpooling) this large group stocked all four shelters (North Blowout, Island Junction, Brandenburg and Ray Benson) in a single day.  Great work volunteers!

            Oct. 20, 2020:  Jim joined six volunteers from the Salamanders trail group clearing ski trails at Big Springs SnoPark.  We cut logs off all of the loops, added blue diamonds and junction maps and cut most of the logs off the old road to Lava Lake.  Just 30 logs left on the last mile through the lava down to the lake.  Perhaps we’ll get it finished before the snow flies.

            Oct. 26, 2020:  the Salamanders were at it again; tthey were at Ray Benson and cleared logs from the North Loop and Circle Lake trails.  They hope to return and clear the Two Buttes Cutoff on November 4th.  Contact Beth Dayton, if you would like to join them.

Spring Skiing and Hiking 

            A new ski season is nearly upon us and we did not let Covid 19 keep us closed up indoors.  Even as last season saw a cessation of official tours by the club there were plenty of opportunities to enjoy the mountains and get together with friends in activities where responsible social distancing was easy to maintain.  I’m particularly thankful for a number of hikes and ski trips we did in areas that were heavily impacted by the fires.  

            Jim, Justin, Bianca, and I did the 12 mile hike and ski into Jefferson Park in mid-May.  The Whitewater fire heavily burned the trail head and much of the forest on the way in but the Park itself was as beautiful as ever and the skiing was great.  I’m pretty sure we skied more than half the total mileage and I’m glad we got to share this gem with Justin before he had to move back east for a new job.  According to reports, the Park was spared the ravages of the latest fire but I expect more of the hike in will be charred.  But who knows, maybe the lack of canopy will open the possibility of an early winter trip.

            Two weeks later we did the annual Tam McArthur ski.  This was a couple of weeks earlier that we often manage to get there and the snow was great, the air clear, and the views outstanding.  Jim, Bianca, and Fiona joined me for this outing.  It’s always fun to share this extraordinary experience with a newcomer.  I’ve yet to have anyone consider this anything short of a peak experience.  Other than the steep climb for the first mile the rest of the terrain offers ski routes that can be managed by the moderate skier or challenging for the tele inclined.  The vistas are unparalleled.  

            Jim, Bianca, and I hiked French Creek Ridge on July 11.  This area far above Detroit was covered in rhododendron and some nice wildflowers.  The view down on Detroit was something we won’t see again for many years.  I’m sure the trail is also significantly lost for some time to come as is Bianca’s favored Sardine peak hike.  

            But a new season begins, and new challenges can be pursued so contact those you trust and are comfortable skiing with and meet up on the snow for some great skiing. –Bob Young

Ski Equipment available:  Cross Country skis – Karhu “wide track,” 5’2” long (160cm), partial metal edges, Fischer bindings (NNN).  In good shape, not heavily used.  Also Swix poles.  $100 total for skis and poles.  Also for free Rossignol boots, about women’s size 8, NNN bindings.  In good shape

Call Marcia Hoak, 503x363x1352 and leave a message.

Membership Form 

Nordic Club – Willamette (Salem) Chapter Membership Application / Renewal Form Annual Individual or Family Membership fee is $20.00.

Please make checks payable to Oregon Nordic Club.  Mail to Oregon Nordic Club – Willamette Chapter P.O. Box 181 Salem, OR 97308


Mailing Address: ____________________________________________________________


Phone: _______________________________________________________________ (optional)

E-mail address: ______________________________________________________(optional)

I hereby release the Oregon Nordic Club (ONC) from any liability for any injury to myself or my family which may occur while participating in any club activity. I realize that there are risks in the participation of this outdoor sport, and that some risks are unforeseeable. I freely give this release with full knowledge that this is a hazardous activity.

Signature: ______________________________________________


(Contact Bob Young for more information)

Willamette Chapter–Oregon Nordic Club

P.O. Box 181

Salem OR 97308

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.