December 27, 2001
This trip to Paulina Lake on Saturday, December 27, was the last of my three contributions to the Obsidian winter trips schedule. It was exactly one week after the exhausting first trip, on the Isaac Nickerson loop. But what a difference in the snow: last week it was heavy, wet, and stuck like Elmer glue. Now it was drier, lighter and didn’t stick.
This time there were only five names on the trip sheet, but again only one car, mine. This meant that the last person to sign up would have to stay home. When I called him the night before he wasn’t too happy.
It would be helpful if people who live in the Eugene/Springfield area and want to go on winter trips with the Obsidians could winterize their vehicles: buy studded snow tires if they hate to put on chains, buy a season Snopark pass, buy a ski rack. Because not everybody can ride; some will have to drive! When I’m faced with more than three riders I allocate seats as follows: first chance is given to people who don’t own a car, among them (1) students from abroad, (2) students from out of town, (3) visitors from out of town, (4) local students, (4) all others who don’t own a car. Last on the list are local people who own a car but don’t want to drive.
Back to Paulina Lake: this was the first time that the access road to Paulina Lake was covered with packed snow (and not sanded!) from the moment we turned off US 97 all the way to the 10-mile Snopark. I had picked a weekday for this trip hoping to get away from the hordes of snowmobiles on weekends. But the parking lot was full of RVs and pickups with flatbed trailers full of snowmobiles, each soaking up space for several cars. And there was this commercial outfit right outside the parking lot renting more of those blasted noise- and air-polluters!
I assured the others that the first pitch, getting off the road and down to the x-c trail was the steepest part of the trip. Once in the woods and then out on the open trail we left the noise and stench of the snomobiles behind. But we often did have to ski in their tracks although the trail’s blue diamonds clearly restrict it to x-c skiers. The snow was soft, dry and non-sticky, a pleasure after the last two trips. The trail goes both through open terrain and pine forests and is 3.25 miles long, a quarter mile longer than the return trip on the road from the lodge to the Snopark. After a quick lunch in the cold wind blowing off the lake we stopped in the lodge where I had the worst cup of coffee in my life for $1,50! Kathrin had been smart and ordered tea, as they presumably know how to boil water. Terrible as the coffee was (“road coffee” would be a compliment!) it did keep me awake all the way to Oakridge where we stopped at the DQ. There I had my first latte (Italian for “milk”) in my life (only 25 cents more than that deadly brew at Paulina lodge). It was delicious, and kept me awake all the way back to Eugene, where we arrived at 7:30PM, exactly eleven and a half hours and 255 miles after we left.
Paulina Lakers were Obsidians Carol Petty and Josh Ladau (remember how to pronounce his name?), and UO graduate student Kathrin Klotz from Germany. Leader: Helmut Plant.