Big Lake

December 28, 1999

I had written on the sign-up sheet for this XC-ski trip that unless there was new snow the destination would have to be changed from the shady Potato Hill trail (one mile of the four-mile Hashbrown Loop being rated “difficult”) to the wide-open, level trail to Big Lake. There was no new snow. There was also only one person signed up, laid-back John Hudson who — experienced Nordic skier that he was — didn’t object to this switch from a challenging XC trail to a “kiddy” trail. Apropos kiddy: Ray Benson SnoPark was full of them, to our initial surprise (after all, it was a weekday). But then it was vacation time, too. Which means lots of snowmobiles, including a kiddy model with a little kid driving it in circles in front of the outhouse. Apropos outhouse: it had a heater on the wall, making it so toasty warm that one was tempted to linger longer! Skiing in proved more challenging than coming back out a few hours later when the snow had softened. The sun in an almost cloudless blue sky cast a golden hue over the dark green (“Oregon green”) trees. It gradually faded when we got to Belknap Hot Springs (thanks, John, for the treat!). Several young men, women and children were in the pool speaking a language that had many high front rounded vowels. “Excuse me, I am curious about your language. It has a lot of n-sounds. Is it Turkish, by chance?” “Yes, how did you know?” Time passed quickly. A hot pool can be a great international conversation pit (Albright; Barak and Arafat take note!). Mom of The Village Cafe was on vacation, so we drove straight through to Eugene and to John’s house where I signed his Obsidian membership application form. — Helmut Plant, leader.

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