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Under Pressure: Snow and sun mix for a perfect weekend of turns and touring 

The late winter in Bend brings exceptionally perfect mountain conditions.

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I'd like to thank both high and low-pressure systems for working together to bring us some perfect late season weather. Depending on where you were, between one and four feet of snow fell in the mountains, as well as Bend, and hung around because of the low temperatures. Even Mt. Bachelor announced the snow level was above average. I filed that declaration between Bend's reported 300 days of sunshine and Central Oregon's fluctuating, fear-based water reports.

After that storm system headed east to terrorize the Midwest, we were left with bluebird days and multi-sport dreams. Quite frankly, if you couldn't find a reason to play outside last weekend, you live in the wrong town!

During the storm, I spent back-to-back days exploring Wanoga and Edison Sno-Parks. Wanoga had a couple inches of fresh powder on top of packed snow for a dreamy, off-trail ski enjoyed by both me and my dog.

My Leap Day trail-breaking ski to Edison's AC/DC shelter left my legs wondering if all this physical fitness and natural beauty is worth it. It took restraint not to beg the snowshoers in the parking lot to avoid the fresh ski tracks on their own excursions.

Sugary Norwegian Traditions

Speaking of Wanoga, DogPAC served up hot chocolate and blabarssoppa (blueberry soup) last weekend in honor of Sweden's long-distance cross-country ski race, the Vasoloppet. Meanwhile, Bend's version of the Swedish classic, The Great Nordeen, is coming up March 17 on Central Oregon's wannabe Norwegian trails.

Paulina Creek Falls

A decade has passed since my last wintertime foray to the Newberry Crater area. The lack of snow on Paulina Lake Road worried me as I mentally prepared for my Saturday afternoon ski. But, the full parking lot at the 10 Mile Sno-Park reassured me there would be ample snow for the trail. I am traditionally an early morning skier, however, I couldn't pass up the chance to increase my vitamin D intake from the warm winter's sun.

As I skied out the Ponderosa Rim Trail toward Paulina Creek Falls, I ran into two skiers surveying a downhill section of the trail. Realizing any words of encouragement might only serve to worsen the situation, I skied past with a warm "hello" for both.

With an hour and a half of skiing and a view of the Paulina Creek Falls under my belt, I reached my final destination, the Paulina Lake Lodge. I decided to skip the additional four miles to Paulina Peak and headed home the way I came. To do this as a round trip, you can continue on the Paulina View Trail south. However, I was more interested in some off-trail skiing above the creek.

Sunday found me at Swampy Lakes Sno-Park, hitching a ride to Dutchman Flats and skiing the Flagline Trail while my family enjoyed the bluebird day at Mt. Bachelor. A quick waxing four miles into the trek took care of the grabby snow in the sun-drenched meadows, but made the icy, shaded parts a bit more hair-raising. The backcountry revelers in the Swampy Lakes parking lot nearly matched the snowmobilers' tailgating enthusiasm, but I'll give the edge to the sled operators who upped the ante by breaking out the hibachis for an afternoon barbecue.

The Kids are All right

Hearty congratulations go out to MBSEF for sending eight skiers to Junior Nationals this year. Bend Endurance Academy is in Utah watching their athletes compete in the Junior Nationals cross-country championships this week. Meanwhile, on the high school front, Mountain View High School dominated the Hoodoo-hosted 2012 Oregon Interscholastic Ski Racing Association's Southern League Nordic State Championships. The team swept every varsity event, including all team and individual disciplines. McKenna Hand and Imran Wolfenden shared the boys combined crown while Hayati Wolfenden won the girls combined by two minutes.

Wicks Wins Windy Mountain Bike Season Opener

Barry Wicks, longtime pro mountain biker, cyclocross racer and all around nice guy has been a Bend resident for barely a month and he's already posted a "W" for Central Oregon.

Wicks won the Echo Red 2 Red, a blustery 28-mile mountain bike race that served as the Oregon XC Series opener on Saturday. The Kona rider rode alone over the rolling plains of Eastern Oregon, covering the course in two hours, 10 minutes. Bend's Brig Brandt (Silverado/Sunnyside Sports) slotted in at fourth, just over seven minutes back from Wicks. And, as a further sign of things to come, both of the pro riders were astride full suspension 29ers.

Portland's Beth Ann Orton (Team S&M) won the women's overall with a time of two hours, 44 minutes, while Bend's Alice Drobna (Webcyclery) followed in second place just over three minutes behind the S&M rider. Laura Winberry (Upper Echelon Fitness) gave Bend another podium finish after she rode into fifth place overall in two hours, 54 minutes. A number of other Central Oregon mountain bike racers made the four-hour trek to the tiny town of Echo, located eight miles south of Hermiston. Additional Bend category winners include Andrew Sargent and Bruce Rogers (28-mile course); Don Leet, Larry Moulton and Kelsey Garbutt (22-mile course) and juniors Lance Haidet, Birky Donovan and Will Reinking (14-mile course). (James Williams)


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