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A Resolute New Year: Plenty of outdoors and volunteer opportunities await in 2012 

Resolutions of an outdoor enthusiast.

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After weeks of prayer and breathless anticipation, Mother Nature finally responded with a quality snowfall to finish off 2011. Saturday's reported foot of snow (depending on whom you ask) and morning temperatures in the single digits meant I was heading to Todd Lake for my final ski of the year.

Trading my usual ski partner (dog) for a much prettier one (wife), we arrive at Mt. Bachelor's Nordic Center by 8 a.m. While I'm not generally considered an early riser, I do support weekend alarm clock usage for outdoor activities. A lack of crowds and better snow conditions trump sleep every time.

Anybody out and about on the last day of 2011 can attest to what a gorgeous day it was. We skied the Common Corridor to the Todd Lake Trail, circled the 45-acre Todd Lake and headed back up the Cascade Lakes Highway. We happily broke trail most of the trip, with the exception of the groomed corridor and snow-covered highway. The five-plus mile journey was the perfect way to finish off 2011 and energize our wish for a good 2012.


Century Drive Madness

In over a decade of living in Central Oregon, this was by far the most packed I have seen Century Drive. Dutchman Flats Sno-Park was filled with snowmobilers and backcountry skiers by 8 a.m. When we finished our ski just after 11 a.m, Mount Bachelor's parking area was full with overflow parking lining the highway.

Tourists and residents alike filled most of the other parking areas along the highway. What the weekend revelers lacked in roundabout navigation and parking skills, they more than made up for in enthusiasm and appreciation of the holiday snowfall.

Wanoga Sno-Park now features its very own food cart with traditional American cuisine available to help soothe the hurt feelings and muscles of children fresh off the sledding hill. They also sell sno-park passes for those who forget to purchase one in town. It seems it won't be long before investors want to put a brewery in the warming shelter.

Outdoor Goals

Since we are only a few days into the New Year, I will honor the tradition of stating resolutions. Please allow me to preface these by saying my lack of memory allows me to playfully set an agenda without the pesky feeling of inadequacy when it is not fulfilled.

1. Teach an outdoor skill to a youngster.

Because I homeschool my daughter, Ella, I am well aware of the good feeling that arises when a kid gets turned on by a new activity. I also try to broaden my child's horizons with new sports and recreation activities. This year, I want to get other kids involved as well. I'm already planning to get my daughter's friend Julia on skis for the first time.

2. Become more knowledgeable in the backcountry.

There are numerous classes designed to increase your comfort in the wild. Classes such as CPR/first aid, avalanche awareness, and wilderness first responder are designed to keep you safe. Another option entails learning more about the area's flora and fauna. Central Oregon Community College, Central Oregon Community Education and Bend Park and Recreation all offer these types of classes.

3. Recreate Local.

When I stop to think about our recreation possibilities, the best phrase that comes to mind is, "world class." From mountain biking to climbing, from backcountry snow sports to hiking, Central Oregon has enough options to entertain even the most finicky of outdoor enthusiasts.

4. Support local nonprofits.

Our local nonprofits and other community organizations work hard to ensure we have suitable outdoor playgrounds. Here are a few to consider.

If you have a dog, think about donating time or money to DogPac. If you have enjoyed the groomed trails of Virginia Meissner and Swampy Lakes or just enjoy a traditional waffle feed (10:30 a.m. Sunday at Meissner Shelter), think about joining Meisner Nordic, formerly Tumalo Langlauf.

If you own a mountain bike and appreciate the riding options within 20 minutes of Bend, check out the Central Oregon Trail Alliance. If the rivers are your pleasure or you enjoyed the Christmas kayak on the Deschutes last month, the Bend Paddle Trail Alliance (bendpaddletrailalliance.org) may be your cause. If you ride your snowmobile on groomed trails, check out the Central Oregon Snowbusters.

If you are interested in life-saving backcountry knowledge, learn about the Central Oregon Avalanche Association. If you appreciate kids learning alpine skiing, Nordic skiing, snowboarding and cycling, or if you never miss the Pole Peddle Paddle, Cascade Cycling Classic or Sunrise to Summit race, look to the Mt Bachelor Ski Education Foundation. Finally, if you feel better knowing there is someone who is ready to assist if you are lost or hurt, give some thought to the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue team.

Be more active!

This one is a no-brainer. Get out there and truly enjoy 2012!

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