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!

 

April 30, 2021 – Dusk Patrol at the Pass

The last day of April seemed like a great day for another evening dusk patrol at the Pass, so Dan and I made plans to head up and meet Joe for some after work turns. I left work in the mid-afternoon and made my way to Dan’s, and we made good time up Highway 58, stopping to gear up at the Gold Lake snowpark.

Gearing up at Gold Lake

We made the short drive to the Pass, parked the car, and headed across the parking lot to skin up. The snow was going fast on the front, so we elected to head up KP and try skinning up Eagle’s to meet Joe, who had been up already for a couple of hours making turns on the backside.

Heading out
Skinning up under EPA

We made good time up to Eagle’s, and were both pretty surprised when we saw the run — it was melting really fast. It looked like there was one line that would go, and upon closer inspection, it indeed went through.

Skinning what’s left of Eagle’s

We linked back up with KP, and soon were lounging around up top with Joe. The first order of business as usual was to get the beer on ice, then dry skins and get the board into ride mode. About 7 minutes later, the beers were cold, and I pulled out my offering for the day, an Imperial Hazy IPA from Elysian Brewing Company https://www.elysianbrewing.com/.

Full Contact by Elysian Brewing

Before we headed down, I pulled out the tripod, and snapped a shot of the three of us on top, a few moments before dropping in on RTS.

Obligatory summit shot

We shoved off, making turns in the soft snow, and headed towards RTS. Dan grabbed the camera, and snapped a few photos of me enjoying the turns heading down with beer in hand. The snow was in really good condition, and we worked down to the bottom, with obvious intentions of heading up for another lap.

After work cruisin’
Turns down RTS

Once at the bottom, we ditched packs and Joe and I set the bootpack back up. We arrived at the top about 20-25 minutes later, and I captured a shot of Dan topping out just past the steep headwall.

Dan headed back up

At the top of the Success Patch, we geared back up and headed down for a second lap. This time, I snapped some pictures of Joe and Dan as they skied down. Joe came ripping by me, and a couple of the below shots show him harvesting some pretty nice evening snow on the last day of April.

Joe ripping on lap 2
Late April turns on RTS

I headed down, then stopped just above the fallen tree that came to define our 2020-2021 season, and took a shot looking down at the skiers below. Dan’s just finishing making turns in the pic below, and Joe is waiting at the packs. Then, it was time to put the camera away and enjoy some more really nice turns down to the bottom.

Looking down at the skiers
Hanging at the bottom

At the bottom, we checked our watched, and decided another run was definitely in order, and it was nice to re-utilize the bootpack again. This time, we headed back up to the top of EPA for a run from the very top, stopping to admire the views at the top of Success looking out over Odell Lake and Diamond Peak.

At the top of Success

We hung out on top for 15 minutes or so, and then dropped in for our third and final run of the afternoon. The clouds were starting to roll in as we shoved off, but the snow was getting better on each lap. I shot a few more photos, including the two below of Dan, and then we milked turns back down to the bottom of the run.

Skiing the Success patch
Dan ripping up RTS

I came down last again, after the skiers, and enjoyed each and every turn right to the packs. Looking back at the run, it was looking pretty fine with our 9 tracks right down the middle of it.

Admiring our work

From the bottom of RTS, we headed out via Lois Lane, and then worked our way over to Swoosh, which was starting to melt out quite rapidly. It skied really nicely though, and we were able to ski most of the way back down to the bottom.

Heading down Swoosh
Looking out to Lakeview

Near the base, we skied down the haul road to where the snow patched out. Joe continued walking/skiing across, but Dan went down trying to get his ski off, and I wasted little time pulling out the camera:)

Skier down 🙂

We milked the last few patches down to the base, and then made the short hike out to the cars parked out front. Looking back, it was a bit sad seeing the snow melt so fast on the front, and it really hit home that winter was definitely over.

Matt & Joe at the base

We didn’t hang around the highway for too long, and headed back down to the snowpark for some cold drinks and grilling activities. The brats definitely hit the spot, and capped off another excellent day of dusk patrol turns at the Pass. Until next time….

Brats and Beers after skiing