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To Close or not to Close: Trout Creek update, on waffles and world rankings and more 

Bend was announced to be one of the best 25 ski towns in the world yet again by National Geographic.

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The Bureau of Land Management announced this week that it is tempering a decision to close a popular rock climbing area on the Lower Deschutes near Madras. The Prineville-based staff said it is rescinding a blanket closure at Trout Creek in favor of a voluntary closure to protect nesting golden eagles. BLM staff said the move would allow them to "better communicate objectives" and complete an ongoing environmental analysis with "maximum public involvement." The BLM staff has said that the inability of nesting golden eagles to successfully reproduce at Trout Creek is a concern for the agency. The staff is asking that climbers and other visitors respect the voluntary closure by staying away from the upland area and popular canyon walls. (EF)

Top 25!?!

Bend has picked up yet another international award as it was named one of the "World's 25 Best Ski Towns" by National Geographic. Bend shares the honor with such iconic ski towns as Telluride, Colo., Jackson Hole, Wyo., and Chamonix, France. In recognizing Bend, National Geographic included a nice write-up of Mt. Bachelor, but left out the backcountry options that abound. They were smart enough, however, to mention our multi-sport opportunities and, of course, beer. Who would have thought our little stratovolcano could compete with the big boys?

Grease the Chains

It's a little ironic that the magazine's accolade comes during what has clearly been a cyclist's winter. While the acknowledgment is appreciated, the late January designation of the new Twin Bridges Loop Scenic Bikeway seems to better correspond with our recent weather. The mountain bike trails have provided some of the best winter conditions in a long time. This year, I have put the most February miles on my road bike since moving here over a decade ago.

I bridged the multi-sport gap the first weekend in February by completing my version of a Central Oregon triathlon. I launched into my first Twin Bridges Loop ride of the year on a recent Saturday morning. The 36-mile ride through Bend and Tumalo never disappoints. Using my garage as a transition area, I hung up my bike, waxed my skis and got ready for a luminary-lit night ski.

The Luminaria is an annual fundraiser for our local ski-based nonprofit, Meissner Nordic. The clear, moonlit ski almost made the candle-filled bags unnecessary in the calm, Central Oregon weather. This family-friendly event illuminated the trails to the Meissner Shelter, where several bonfires awaited. Dale Navish, president of Meissner Nordic, estimated 500 people showed up to support what is quickly becoming the most important ski-based nonprofit in Oregon. He was excited to note that Meissner Nordic raised over $2,000, up from about $300 last year.

The final leg of my CO triathlon included a morning run on the river trail. I started with an ego-boosting sprint down Awbrey Butte to the First Street Rapids entrance. No matter how many times I begin a run with a downhill section, I always manage to trick myself into believing that I am a much better runner than my skills suggest. Some days I can carry that feeling along the mostly-flat river trail. The Archie Briggs Canyon Trail, in all of its uphill glory, restores order and my status as a mere mortal.

Mmmm, Waffles

In good news for breakfast lovers, Central Oregon nonprofits have upped their number of waffle feeds. I will admit my joy in spotting a Waffle House during many a car trip down I-75 in the South. But, around here, our waffles are Norwegian and the "houses" are backcountry shelters! started things off last month by hosting over 100 skiers, both with and without dogs. Besides the publicity for this great organization, they also raised almost $300 by selling Silipints filled with hot chocolate. Their next "Waffles at Wanoga" will take place Saturday, Feb. 25.

Across Century Drive, Meissner Nordic's was forced to reschedule after a "waffle batter disaster" occurred en route to the shelter. As one Facebook friend of Meissner Nordic put it, "It's the thought that counts." And, never fear, Meissner Nordic has rescheduled the event for this weekend. They'll be serving up waffles at the Meissner Shelter from 10:30 a.m. "until the batter runs out."

Meanwhile, Meissner Nordic and the Bend Endurance Academy hosted a "Learn to Ski Day" at Virginia Meissner Sno-Park on Saturday, Feb. 4. The Great Meissner Waffle Disaster of 2012 couldn't cast a cloud on the fact that 75 people were introduced to the art of skiing the day before.

Go Speed Racer, Go!

The Central Oregon Snowbusters hosted its 2012 snowmobile drag races at Wanoga Sno-Park last weekend. The highlight must have been the testosterone-laden Outlaw Class, racing all motor combinations, including nitrous, turbo and supercharged, against each other for a $1,000 payout.

Not to be outdone by their engine-based counterparts, brave cyclists will compete in the "Ice Crit" this Saturday, Feb. 25, at 6 p.m. at the Steve Larsen Trail Head at Wanoga Sno-Park. Entries are $10, with all proceeds benefitting Central Oregon Trails Association. This is sure to be quality entertainment for racers and spectators alike. Competitors may race their mountain, cross, tandem, cruiser, BMX, road or cargo bikes. Spectators should bring lawn chairs and their favorite noise-makers. In case you're wondering, I used to compete unofficially in Michigan with my BMX bike, equipped with roofing nails punched through the treads. Good times!

Documentaries for a Good Cause

Lastly, the Central Oregon Avalanche Association is showing a couple of documentaries at McMenamins this Thursday, Feb. 23 at 9 p.m. FreeRider illustrates Kyle Miller's passion for snowboarding through his off-piste adventures and ski bum lifestyle. WYoming Triumph chronicles a group of skiers and snowboarders as they scout their home state.

WinterFest Rail Jam Results

Congrats to WinterFest rail jam winners Lucas Wachs and Jonah Owen who took home top honors this past weekend. Wachs, a local rider who is sponsored by Mt. Bachelor and Skjersaas's among others, edged Connor Bennett and Tashi Miller for the top slot on Friday. On Saturday night, local rider and filmmaker Jonah Hill bested fellow boarders Kent Callister and Jake Selover to grab the podium position in the snowboard competition.


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