March 24, Wednesday: by Frank Hoffman
I made a pre-sunrise start on a trip to McKenzie Pass. After a customary stop in Sisters, I turned the key, anticipating about a 15-min drive on Hwy 242 to the starting point of my tour. But instead of a healthy roar, I heard only a brief, unenthusiastic grinding noise followed by a dash full of lights. After a few repetitions I accepted it was hopeless, and that my well-laid plans might come to naught. I called Les Schwab and reached a sympathetic person who said he could have someone out to jump the car in the next half hour. Within 10 minutes a fellow had me started; in another 45 I was back on the road with a new battery.
Temp was near freezing at 9am when I parked just below the east gate at 4000’; road had packed, icy snow. Clear blue sky, no wind. I skinned up to Windy Point, removed skins, and continued 1.4 mile on the road to 5020E, where I exited to the lava field. As usual, some blind alleys ending in rocks and drop-offs, but a fairly direct route SW for about 1.75 mi to Dee Wright. I never sank more than 4”, usually less—a good snowpack with near-ideal conditions. I had lunch at the observatory with clear views, though some clouds were building to the west. North breeze as I returned by the same route. I met two snowmobilers shortly after I got back to the road, then a group of 6 or so at Windy Point, finally a skier near the Cross-District trail. Last quarter mile near the gate was slushy; back to the car at 3:50. 13 mi, 1400’ elevation gain. This should be a good tour into spring; typically the road progressively melts out and plowing starts at some point. Euro Sports staff in Sisters often know about road condition above the gate, as they cater to cyclists who use the road before it opens to motorists in June.
Frank sent a nice map. I was unable to copy the pdf into wordpress… DS