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Bluebird Back Country

By Mike Rougeux - February 10th, 2008

Where: Todd Lake, Central Oregon Cascades When: February 9, 2008 Summary: The Cascade Mountains of Oregon have recently been receiving an onslaught of cold winter storms blanketing the peaks in fresh deep dry powder. Back to back storms the past week or so have provided amazing snow in the mountains, the visibility however, has been less than ideal. With a day off drawing near, and a weather forecast of blue skies, plans were laid for a backcountry tour of Todd Lake in the Deschutes National Forest. The distinct noise of Kyle Beall’s Volkwagon van struggling as it made the turn onto my street alerted me to the fact that it was time to go.

We loaded gear and splitboards into the van and made the drive up to the Mt Bachelor Nordic Center where we would begin our trip out to Todd Lake. The first portion of the trip utilizes some of the groomed trails at the Nordic Center; touring through the Nordic Center on our splitboards drew many a strange look from lycra clad folks skating by on skinny x-country skis, and even a request for us to pose for a picture! We soon crossed a snowmobile trail and left the smell of two stroke and the groomed track of the Nordic center behind as we headed into snow covered trees under a bluebird sky. Stopping only to shed layers we made quick work of the 1 ¾ mile tour to the lake. Once at the lake we picked up a skin track that wove its way through trees heading towards the top of a ridge. The trees, warmed by the sun, were engaged in a full on air assault as the boughs of the trees dropped microwave sized snow balls from above, escaping unscathed we reached the ridge and a tremendous view of Broken Top, Ball Butte, and Mt Bachelor. After a relaxing lunch Kyle and I put our newly acquired avalanche skills to practice; digging a snow pit we went through a couple of tests to asses the stability and safety of the slope we would be snowboarding on. With a quick conversation about the results of the tests and other factors to consider the two of us concluded that all signs pointed to yes for safe shredding. The warm temperatures and sun had turned the snow into a heavy paste making the riding a little slow but fun regardless. As we rode along the ridge line we played on the little wind lips that had formed and dropped into a wide open untouched snow field. After making big creamy turns we were soon back into the war zone weaving past craters as snow bombs were dropped from tress. We rode through the trees until we arrived back at the skin track we skied in on down near the lake. Transitioning our boards into ski mode and shedding layers for the sunny tour back to the trail head Kyle and I had huge grins on our faces as a result of a great day spent in the back country.



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