May 20, 2006
I met Van Likes and Tom Happy in the South Eugene High School lot at 8:30. Tom had skinny skis (which he had carried about a mile on his bike from home), Van had Randonee skis with skins, and I had my old standard metal edged backcountry skis—a rather odd assortment of gear. This trip had originally been planned for The Twins, but there was still too much snow on the Waldo Road to get near that trailhead. So we headed for the Fuji Creek Road (across from Salt Creek Falls) instead. We were able to drive within ¾ miles of the Fuji Shelter.
We skied up the road, around the bend where it crosses Fuji Creek, then had to walk a few hundred feet where the road was bare. Back on skis at the junction, we were soon to the Fuji Shelter for a quick, look-see. While it was cloudy, and threatened to sprinkle a bit on us, we did get a fair view from the shelter of Diamond Peak, Lakeview Mountain, Cowhorn and Thielsen.
When I had scouted out the trip a couple days before, I had soon lost the blue diamonds on the Fuji Creek Trail, so we took the Birthday Lake Trail instead, which I was more familiar with. The snow under the trees was rather bumpy and littered with fir needles and twigs. By the time we reached the junction with the Fuji Mountain Trail we were all quite warm in spite of the cool weather. After a brief break at Verde Lake we continued to the next junction and took the right branch.
After traveling about a mile we decided that we had taken the wrong branch—we were on the Island Lakes Trail and headed for Waldo! So out came the compass and we headed cross country due west. Soon we swung just a bit to the north and climbed up onto the east ridge of Fuji. This led us directly to the summit.
After a late lunch viewing the bases of the Sisters and Broken top, and the peaks of Bachelor Butte, The Twins, Mt. Ray, Maiden Peak, and Waldo Lake and Wickiup Reservoir, in addition to the peaks to the south that were visible from the shelter, we headed back down the east side, this time taking a bearing directly back to the shelter. Van locked down his heels and showed us his downhill technique, getting in a few turns on the limited open slopes and using a mix of turns and side-slips to negotiate the densely wooded areas. Tom and I chose to post-hole down to slightly gentler terrain. We joined the Fuji Mountain Trail for a short ways and checked out the junction that we had missed earlier—only a few hundred feet from the wrong turn we had taken. We continued on our compass bearing from the junction, visiting numerous small lakes along the way.
After a short hike down a steep, snow-bare slope we were back on skis, but in a tangle of springs that are the source of Fuji Creek. We twisted our way trough dense stands of small trees and across small snow bridges and soon found the main trunk of the creek, which we followed down another steep slope directly to the road, thus avoiding having to walk the bare stretch again. —Wayne Deeter, leader.
—photos by Wayne Deeter