By Jim Todd
After more than a foot of new snow Tuesday night, Frank lead Chuck and I on an excursion from Ray Benson to Brandenburg Shelter. Not content to follow tracks on the South Loop, he chose an off trail route following old roads between the South Loop and PCT so we could enjoy the pleasures of trail breaking. And it was enjoyable (untouched snow, solitude, new views), even though we were sinking 8-10″ with every stride.
Following a well earned lunch at Brandenburg we relented and chose the South Loop (more or less) for our return. Tracks made by earlier skiers gave us a smooth run back to the SnoPark.
The good news at Santiam Pass: so many skiers are out that tracks should be set on all trails by Saturday. The bad news: first the stove pipe has failed at Brandenburg Shelter so a warming fire is not an option; second, the traffic will be very bad this weekend. Even on a week day Hoodoo was jammed, with cars parked along the road to Ray Benson and crowded against the shoulder on the road out to the highway. If you go this weekend plan on arriving early in the morning and having a long slow drive out to the highway in the afternoon.