Low Snowpack – More Skating

So far this winter the Oregon Cascades have received little snow and what snowpack exists is getting thin and icy. We have skied on backcountry trails out of the Swampy Lakes SnoPark once, but the snow conditions continue to deteriorate as we wait for new snow. However, Linda and I were fortunate to have purchased Mount Bachelor Nordic season passes when they went on sale last fall and we have enjoyed skiing the groomed trails there many times already this season.

Over past years Linda and I have taken “skate skiing” lessons at Mount Bachelor. Lessons were essential for me to succeed at this activity, and even so I found skating to be exhausting and sometimes frustrating. But last season and this season we have been skating regularly with Nordic skiing friends, some of whom are quite experienced and even instructors, and I have gradually picked up some good tips from them that has made me a more efficient skate skier and the activity more fun for me.

Mount Bachelor Nordic Common Corridor

Mount Bachelor Nordic Common Corridor

Typically the Mount Bachelor Nordic Center grooms its trails nightly, which keeps the trails from becoming too icy in our current weather pattern, and sometimes the area gets a dusting of new snow which also helps keep the trails in shape.

Skiing Devecka's Dive at Mount Bachelor Nordic

Skiing Devecka’s Dive at Mount Bachelor Nordic

For the most part this season we have skied the “blue runs”, such as “Woody’s”, “Easy Back”, and “Zigzag”. These are interesting trails through mixed pine and hemlock. The ski traffic mid-week is not heavy, and many times one can stop to catch one’s breath and enjoy the quiet forest ambiance and solitude and views of peaks and alternating sunlight and shadows crossing the trail.

Linda skiing Leslie's Lunge at Mount Bachelor Nordic

Linda skiing Leslie’s Lunge at Mount Bachelor Nordic

This week the Nordic Center groomed and opened up the lower “black runs” and yesterday Linda and I took “Devecka’s Dive” down to “Leslie’s Lunge” and had a very fun descent through the forest on fast but manageable drops and turns. Then we made the long climb back towards the Nordic Center.

We are hopeful for more snow in the Oregon Cascades so we can return to our favorite backcountry trails, but in the meantime we are enjoying the groomed trails and working on our skating skills at Mount Bachelor.

About Paul McClellan

I had the good fortune to have spent most of my life in the Pacific Northwest, where I discovered the joys and addiction of hiking and climbing in the Cascade Mountains and other mountain ranges in the Western United States.
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1 Response to Low Snowpack – More Skating

  1. This past Sunday (1/15) it started snowing in the Cascades and we skied some of the Swampy Lakes backcountry trails. Tuesday we and two friends skied backcountry trails out of the Mount Bachelor Nordic Center in heavy snowfall. It has continued being very stormy in the Cascades since then. Over the past 72 hours the Mount Bachelor ski resort has gotten 62 inches of snow and much more since Tuesday. They have gotten their power back up (it was on generators), are working to reopen their parking lots, are checking out lifts that were closed by the storms, and the Nordic Center is working to pack and condense the several feet of snow coating the trails. The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office has issued a “Severe Winter Weather Backcountry Advisory/Warning” due to the deep and unstable snowpack. Once the snowpack settles Linda and I should be back to our usual schedule of balancing skate skiing with backcountry skiing.

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