14 January 2009
xc skiing in Oregon
I was driving to a remote trail head using directions drawn on a bar napkin by some locals I met the night before while I ate dinner sitting at the bar in Bend. Little did I realize as I drove through the blizzard on empty snow packed central Oregon roads that my 4WD was kaput.
I got behind a Subaru that seemed to know where they were headed with cross country skis strewn in their way-back. I followed them down a steep hill over a river unfrozen into a small turn-about that had become a haphazard parking lot. There were no spots to be seen, but as I tried to turn around to head back to the top of the hill, my Jeep wouldn’t budge. I got several looks from fellow skiers wondering what I was up too and why I wasn’t moving from the center and only navigable area of the turn-about; I was driving a Jeep after all.
This is when the true color of Oregonians shown through. A man walking to the trail head took pity on me and after determining himself along with three other friendly souls that my 4WD was indeed not working, installed his tire chains to my vehicle and got me to the top of the hill. I should note here that I wondered into Oregon unaware of this compulsory law that tire chains must be inside the vehicle at all times no matter the weather or road conditions. I became the proud owner of a pair the following day.
The kindness of strangers always touches my heart the most. On to the skiing. I could go on and on to tell you how epic the cross country skiing was, that it was perfectly dry, packed hard enough to glide and yet soft enough to float, how skiing down the mountain on the curvy forested trails was frightening in that I didn’t know the trail nor when it would end as my speed quickened the sides providing a two foot drop beneath your skis should one.. fall, and that the silence of the forest was deafening, but I’ll let the pictures do most of the story telling.