December 22, 2001
There had been six names on the trip sheet for Fuji Shelter Saturday, December 22, 2001, five of whom wanted transportation. Only I was offering it, for three passengers. Two would have to stay behind :-( unless I could persuade one of the five to drive. Well, I did persuade one to drive, as long as I’d put a man in her car “who would help put on chains.” That was Friday evening. Saturday morning she calls and cancels. That still left one to go (or rather not to go). That one turned out to be the one no show, so that we were down to four, one of whom, Melanie, arrived by bike with skis and poles strapped to the frame :-)
Still haunted by the memory of breaking trail through heavy, wet snow only two days earlier I advised my riders that we’d go on to the Gold Lake Snopark if there was no trail broken on Fuji Mountain road. There wasn’t. No attempt had yet been made to breach the snow wall by the side of the highway where Fuji Road starts, and no trace was visible in the snow covering the road. So on we went to Gold Lake Snopark.
Since Melanie had never been to Gold Lake we went there instead of Bechtel Shelter, the other possibility. Others had broken trail for us, and the heavy snow made for an easy, slow glide on the last stretch to the camp ground. We crowded into the shelter, welcomed, kinda, by three other people already there, a taciturn couple and a man who made up for their silence by talking constantly to no one in particular.
After lunch we skied in to the shore of the lake and admired the quiet. On the way out Josh, home on winter vacation from Cornell in ski-less Ithaca, wanted to go up the Maiden Peak trail a way, say 45 minutes’ worth. The distance he would cover in 45 minutes would be twice as long as mine, I was afraid. So I called a pow wow after only 20 minutes of pulling my snopacked skis up towards Maiden Peak: “I’ll make you a deal: seeing that I switched destinations on you, and seeing that my age is finally catching up with me, I won’t ask for any gas money when we get back. That way you’ll have had a free ride to the snow country, for a modest little x-c ski trip. Sound o.k.?” Sounded o.k. to them (what else could they do, since I had the car keys in my pocket).
We wound up sitting in the warming hut of the Willamette Backcountry Ski Patrol drinking hot chocolate with Patrol member and fellow Obsidian Wayne Deeter.
Being good sports on this Gold-Lake-in-lieu-of-Fuji trip were Obsidians Josh Ladau (pronounced “laDOO”) and Sue Wolling, and non-member Melanie Grubman. Leader: Helmut Plant