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Singin' the "No Snow Blues?": Finding a silver lining in the snow drought 

click to enlarge Who needs a lift ticket anyway?
  • Who needs a lift ticket anyway?
Who needs a lift ticket anyway?
Mount Bachelor may be under new management, but Mother Nature is in charge. To the dismay of Thanksgiving vacationers and local ski buffs, not to mention Powdr Corp execs, Mt. Bachelor lacked enough snow to open during the Thanksgiving weekend and I'm willing to bet that continues to be the case when this issue hits print. I've lived in Bend nearly nine years, and this is the latest start to ski season I remember.
But now is no time to cry in your Jubelale and sing the "No Snow Blues." Unbelievably, the key to happiness is not two feet of fresh powder and a bluebird day. I know this because I happen to be on a pop psychology reading binge. Daniel Gilbert, author of the national best seller Stumbling on Happiness, explains that we have a deep-seated desire to control our circumstances, but that a defining characteristic of happy people is resilience in the face of unexpected or unwanted events. It's an especially handy trait right now given the state of our economy in addition to our paltry four-inch base. But Bend is a pretty happy place and many people have been making lemonade out of lemons as we await snow.

Work With What You've Got

The Thanksgiving Workout, I reckon, is as much a tradition in most Bend households as cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. Usually, skiing is in the equation. So, what to do when Turkey Day ≠ Opening Day?

Who needs a lift ticket anyway? I convinced a small group of friends to snowshoe to the top of Mt. Bachelor on Thanksgiving morning. Our outing was not without a little drama. When we set out from the gate to the Sunrise lift parking area, we were stopped by a Mt. Bachelor security guard who informed us that the mountain was "closed today". When asked exactly why we couldn't hike in our National Forest, the guard was stumped but unmoved. Finally, he agreed to use one of his lifelines and phone a friend. Mt. Bachelor President Dave Rathbun managed to clear up the situation: the mountain was not closed, except for the tubing hill and the terrain park. PR disaster averted. Granted the outcome we desired, our happy little group trotted on up the hill, gleefully burning our pre-holiday gluttony calories. It turned out to be a glorious Thanksgiving morning on the mountain, shared with a few tele skiers and snowboarders willing to earn their turns... and a second helping of pumpkin pie.

The nordic ski crowd, and I mean crowd, was able to scratch the itch over Thanksgiving thanks to J.D. Downing and Lloyd Vordenberg, who groomed a 1.5-mile stretch down the Cascade Lakes Highway from the Dutchman Flat Sno-Park. Conditions apparently were pretty good until, of course, I went up to give it a go on Saturday morning. By then, the thin cover of snow was old, beat up and glazed over like a yam casserole. Much harder core skiers completed their workouts anyway, while I hitched a ride back into town and hopped on my mountain bike. I prefer to think of that as resilience, rather than wimpiness.

Appreciate Global Warming at its Finest

Speaking of crowds, Phil's trailhead was stuffed like a Butterball, but trail conditions were sweeter than pecan pie. Balmy fifty-five-degree air temperatures and perfect moisture content in the soil made for bliss-covered faces all along the lower trails. For mountain bike lovers, it doesn't get any better than this.

For roadies, conditions are pretty amazing for December as well. It felt like Cycle Oregon riding through Tumalo on Sunday, with hordes of cyclists pedaling along, some even bare-legged.

Climbers are digging the unseasonably warm and dry weather too. From what I hear, Smith Rock was rockin' over the four-day weekend.

And the powers that be re-filled Mirror Pond last week, to the delight of paddlers. Although it may be a little difficult to get in the holiday spirit in the midst of a heat wave, consider joining the Christmas Kayakers on Mirror Pond for some paddling and caroling. The third annual event will be held Friday December 5th from 5:15pm to 6pm. Meet at the corner of Riverside and Galveston for the put-in at 4:30pm and bring a pfd and lights along with your boat. This year, the organizers have a special trophy for the best decorated boat. For more information, contact Linda Olsen at 330-9586.

Who knows how long this weather will last. It may heretical, but I bashfully admit I'm actually kind of happy about it.


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