After the teasing snowstorms of October and then a pleasant change of recent weather, a lot of ski and ride-aholics are getting antsy. Dreaming of making fresh tracks, the "I skied/rode the cone last month, dude," crowd is crying out for some big storms. When and if the snow will come is always a matter of great speculation around Central Oregon. For what they're worth, here are a few predictions as to what we're in for snow and weather-wise this coming winter.
Kevin Max (editor of the new 1859 magazine):
"It's going to be an epic year with snow well down the mountain. It'll be a blast skiing at Meissner."
Terry Foley (Bend native, former alpine ski racer, ski coach and father of U.S. Snowboard Team head coach, Peter Foley):
"My age and lack of reliance on anything to do with skiing as (a form of) income allows me to go with the flow. Bought my senior passes, both on the hill and on the tracks in time for the discount. I have the best performing and fitting alpine boots I've ever had, leather-through-plastic, so I'm saying goodbye to 55-or-so years of cruel shoes. I also just got my brand new GS skis."
Nancy Prichard-Bouchard (outdoor journalist, mother of three alpine skiing daughters, and wife of an alpine masters racer):
"I'm predicting lots of cold, wet weather through mid-December, with oodles of early season snow. We'll probably have plenty of snow days (affectionately known as storm skiing by our gang) with deep powder. It will be the type of winter to make snowbirds wish they'd headed south when they had a chance!"
John Downing (head coach, XC-Oregon):
"My prediction is we'll be just fine in the Pacific Northwest with snow and weather - at least at elevations above 5-6,000 feet. So Mt. Bachelor and hopefully Meissner should be good to go once things start going for real here in a couple weeks. I haven't seen a documented trend in El Nino years with regards to snow amounts or warmer/colder temperatures, but the NW seems to ride almost everything out if you go high enough. I would hope this year would be the same."
*Mike McMackin (General manager Hutch's bike shops and longtime local backcountry skier):
"Well, as you know I bought a pass this year, but not the full season pass, just the new 12-day version. So, with that said we know (as history has proven) that it will probably be an awful season!
"Unlike everyone else that makes predictions, I don't have a part of my body that flares up to tell me anything. I'm just guessing.
"I predict that we'll have 100 inches at Bachey on January 6th (after the holiday season is over), and that the best skiing of the year will be in April because we've had our most epic days then."
*A note on McMackin. For years local skiers have paid attention to whether or not McMackin bought a ski pass. If he purchased one, the skiing was invariably lousy all season long. The years he didn't buy a pass, was always a snow year to remember.
Das Woodman (He who skis like a stork on LSD):
"I always say a cold October with early snow means a mild winter. I recall one year skiing the mountain in mid-October only to be hiking at Smith Rock in 65-degree temperatures come January first."
Ride While You Wait
As a result of the wet October, some of the favorite winter mountain bike trails are in superb shape. Here's a roundup.
Horse Butte: Last week, dirt on the loop trail was firm and fast. And thanks to whoever (I suspect the equestrian folks) cut back the brush all alongside the trail to make it leg-scratching free.
Horse Ridge: Firm up top, but still a lot of sandtraps down low is the beta here.
Gray Butte: It's on at the Butte where "firm" is the operative word and still the best riding for scenics in Central Oregon.
The Maston Allotment: Finally, the trails have been tamped down enough and are firm and fast. Try riding the loop counter-clockwise. It makes for a less-boring excursion.
Editor's note: Pam Stevenson is recovering from a busy weekend. Her column returns next week.