May 14th, 2021 – Hoodoo Dusk Patrol

A day after a great trip to Southern Oregon, I found myself at work early for a monthly public meeting. My plan was to put in two-thirds of a day, and then head out for an annual dusk patrol ski at Hoodoo, something I look forward to all year long. The forecast was calling for sun, and the weather looked to continue to be provide for some good turns. Shortly after noon, Andy arrived at work and we loaded gear into my car and headed to Dan’s. With Dan in tow, we headed up the highway, with plans to meet Neil, Joe and John at Hoodoo. Driving up highway 126, spirits were high, but started to dampen a bit as we noticed some huge thunderheads building over right over Santiam Pass. As we pulled off the highway and approached the ski hill, conditions appeared to worsen. We met up with the others, and decided we’d skin up to mid-mountain, and make an assessment of the weather from there.

Andy & Neil heading out
Andy next to some old bull wheels

Things didn’t really improve as we walked across the base area, and as soon as we set the skins on the snow and made our first strides up the hill, it started to drizzle. We worked our way up towards mid-mountain, and the drizzle became heavier, and by the time we reached the top or Ed’s Chair, everyone decided we would go no further.

Skiing up in the drizzle
Reassessing plans at mid-mountain

The skies were getting blacker, and all of us were worried about the potential for lightening, even though we hadn’t seen or heard anything yet. Before we shoved off, we snapped a few pictures, including the shot below of Andy, Niel and I.

Andy, Matt & Neil

I dropped in first, and in a rush to head down, left my poles at the top with the rest of the skiers. I setup to shoot some shots of the skiers as they came down, and proceeded to shoot some photos of Dan and Niel who came down first.

Dan heading down
Neil and Dan getting out of Dodge

Andy and John came down next, and even though it was raining and the conditions were less than ideal, it still looked like they were having fun…

Andy coming down
John’s turn on the descent

Joe came down last, and I was relieved to see he was “double poling.” I snapped a few shots of him as he approached, and thankfully accepted my poles from him when he made it down to me.

Joe “double poling”

We skied the run out and down to the parking lot, and everyone agreed it wasn’t worth another lap. Instead, we had a ton of food, and instead of grilling in the sun, decided it would be wise to head to the Ray Benson snow shelter to get out of the weather.

Back in the parking lot
The walk of shame in the rain:)

As we made our way back to the cars, we all agreed that though we didn’t get much vertical and the conditions weren’t great, this annual dusk patrol would be one we wouldn’t soon forget. A few minutes later, we were out of the elements and in the comfortable shelter at Ray Benson, and it was time to start grilling. Neil prepped the burgers, and I threw the brats on the grill, and before long we had a feast ready to go.

Niel prepping the burgers
Hanging out at the shelter

Even though we were all hoping to work up more of an appetite by burning lots of calories skinning and skiing multiple laps of great corn, our meal definitely hit the spot, and it was really nice to hang out with a bunch of fully vaccinated friends in what felt like a return to normal in the COVID-19 era.

Dan enjoying the grilled offerings

I pulled out my beer of choice for the afternoon, a tasty Bombay Bomber Pale Ale from McKenzie Brewing, and snapped a few photos of it before getting it on ice. After that, I enjoyed a super tasty burger as well as a brat, and definitely overate with respect to the amount of turns we made.

Bombay Bomber Pale Ale from McKenzie Brewing

After everyone had their fill of beer and burgers, it was time to hit the road and head for home. Before we headed out, I pulled out the tripod and snapped a picture of our group to commemorate a dusk patrol that probably will never be forgotten…

The full 2021 dusk patrol crew

Looking back on it now, having an out of the ordinary 2021 dusk patrol seems right in line with the past year we’ve all had with COVID-19, wildfires, and other out of the ordinary events. Nevertheless, I’m still counting it as a great trip with good friends, and you can bet I’m already looking forward to returning again next year!