Little Squaw Back

February 7, 1999

High velocity winds and heavy snowfall in the Cascades persuaded us to change our destination from Three Fingered Jack to Little Squaw Back, a butte which is northeast of Black Butte and was relatively sheltered from the storm. The two of us shared fairly tough trail-breaking along the four miles of forest road and another one or two miles through pine and juniper forest until the summit of Little Squaw Back was achieved. The ski out was fast and fun but the weather was turning sour by the time we had driven back down to Hwy. 20. By this time Santiam Pass was blocked, apparently by snow slides, forcing us to drive back through Bend and then travel south in order to take Willamette Pass back to Eugene. Roads not covered by snow proved to have a thick coating of ice. Every few miles we encountered another car that had gone off the road, and after our car was rear-ended by a pickup in Sisters, we foolishly figured that the worst was probably behind us. On Hwy. 58 below Oakridge, we braked for a flare in the road (already the site of an accident). The struggle to regain control of the car as it glided along the black ice proved fruitless. Eventually, the car hit a ditch and rolled sideways into a nearly vertical orientation before fortuitously reversing momentum and falling back onto all four wheels! Dick Hildreth in the passenger seat, seemed impassive but his hair had gone a shade whiter by this time. The car was extricated and the only damage, a flat tire, was quickly remedied. We continued creeping along the icy roads until we happily made it into Eugene just before midnight. The return drive from Santiam Pass was completed in just under eight hours. Dick Hildreth and Steve Goins (leader) were the two hapless skiers on this forgettable trip.

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