Pengra Pass

January 2, 1999

Eating dinner in Rosalina’s Mexican Restaurant in Oakridge everybody assured the leader that they had had a wonderful day skiing. Gratefully, I ordered a round of flan. What a laid-back, forgiving group, I thought: real Americans! The day had started promising: no rain, for a change, and by the time we got to Lookout Point reservoir the white fog dissipated into bright sunshine out of a blue sky. The pavement was dry much of the way. But there were a few icy stretches where Dan Bates drove his van cautiously past two freshly-wrecked cars and later past an overturned SUV lying on its back like Gregory Samsa in Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis”. The most challenging part of the trip was driving the access road from the highway to the Salt Creek Falls SnoPark, a one-mile long sheet of ice. When Dan had unloaded all six pairs of skis at the trailhead I asked: “But where are my skis?” There was only one pair not yet claimed, Kneissls with three-pin binding. “They must be yours!” Indeed, they were mine … except that I had grabbed the wrong pair of skis this morning: my boots needed the Karhus with Alpina NNN binding, which were still hanging on my ski rack back home … I looked sheepish, to put if mildly, and felt like sticking my head into the wall of snow next to the van. “Well, why don’t we go up to Willamette Pass and rent you a pair of XC skis at the Nordic Center?” Half an hour later we loaded my $8 XC package in the van and headed back down for the Gold Lake-Pengra Pass SnoPark, as it was getting too late to return to the Salt Creek Falls trailhead and attempt the five-mile climb to Fuji Shelter. It was close to noon, so I suggested skiing to Westview Shelter, eat lunch there, then proceed to Bechtel Shelter. On the trail to Westview Shelter Dan fell and broke his ski pole, so I traded my pair for his remaining pole. At the shelter I was able for the first time to enjoy the west view, as it had been foggy the previous times. We took one of the south loops to connect to the main trail to Bechtel Shelter, which we reached in due time (as did several other groups). Someone had built a fire, we ate snacks and relaxed in the sunshine. On the way back Dan and I skied ahead to be able to return my rental skis by 4:00 pm. We met the other four of our group in the warming hut and soon were on our way to Oakridge and Rosalina’s. Thanks to Gerry Roe my group will have another chance February 6 to ski up to Fuji Shelter … if they all bring the right skis for their boots, that is! Easygoing, laid-back skiers were Obsidians Dan Bates, Randi Brox and Peggy Mathes, and potential members Ann Hubbird and Jon Tesdell, all (mis)led by Helmut Plant.

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