Santiam Pass (Hoodoo to Suttle Lake)

February 14, 1988

Thirteen sweethearts in a wide age range and including 5 members and 8 non-members (some of them newcomers to our great area), set out on a spring-like Valentine’s Day looking for punishment in slushy, freshly-fallen snow. We shoved everybody into 3 cars and arrived after 10 at Benson Snowpark. The original plan to start out around Hayrick Butte was dropped since a largely overcast sky obscured the great panorama to the south. Two cars were brought to the Nordic Center Cafe between Suttle Lake and Blue Lake. The large pumice flat there looked black, nearly devoid of all snow. Spring was in the air after this short mellow winter.

At noon we finally took our compass bearing due east towards Black Butte and had fun skiing through roller coaster hills along the northern end of the 20 year old big burn. Everybody enjoyed the vistas, the quietness of the wide-open expanse and the trackless new snow. It was tricky at ties because faster icy patches turned suddenly into deep wet sticky snow, occasionally causing a long lunge and fall into the “wet cement.” After 1¼ hours we reached our lunch spot at the shelter at Island Lake Junction occupying a prominent location on a bluff that overlooks the rolling snowfields to the south, Cache Mt., Black Crater and the cloud-enshrouded Mr. Washington. The 2½ year old shelter looks already well-used and weathered. Freezing snowmobilers probably have cut the many snags around the shelter for warming fires. Obsidian rules were then blatantly violated: somebody bad sneaked a bottle of the inaugural batch of Eugene Ale (with the Eugene Skinner portrait on the label) into his/her pack and had people appreciate the excellent new hometown brew. Valentine candy mollified the teetotalers. About ½ mile further east one in the group spread like an eagle into the deep snow and could not get up because of hip pain, nausea and lightheadedness upon rising. Shock and hypothermia were real threats. After considerable discussion and repeated attempts to get the group moving again, it was decided to split the group up into three: the invalid, by now slowly staggering along on his skis with aids on either side, would try to make it back to the shelter and would wait next to the wood stove with his two companions: two would ski down to Suttle Lake to get the cars before dusk and the rest would ski back to Benson Snowpark to get one of those *!*! snowmobiles or flag one down en route. This time, however, there was none to be heard, seen or smelled (of course these pests are only around when you don’t want or need them)!, so we all made it to our respective destinations before dark and before the clouds burst. Finally, a wonderful snowmobile of the ski patrol brought the patient back to his car. He looked much stronger and his complexion looked rosier again. What a relief that was for all of us! So all of as had, more or less, a great day in the snow and were even home with our Valentines by 8 p.m. February 14th skiers were Dallas Cole, Allen Coons, Gladys Grancorvitz, Diane Jeffcott, Dot Leland, Herb McMurtry, Hank Plant, Hans and Barbara Schock, Dick and Mrs. Snyder, Don Stair and Hans Tschersich (leader).

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