It's time to ride againYour worst fears have been realized as I'm back to guest author this column for two weeks while regular columnist Kevin Grove is in Vietnam on business. What kind of business I don't know. Let's leave it at that.
One of the best things to happened this past winter was an increase in the number of mountain bike riders riding the Maston Allotment trail. As a result, the trail has become, except for a couple of spots, much more packed and enjoyable.
And what with the cool weather extending so far into April, people looking for an easy, mostly flat, trail to start getting back into mountain bike riding shape should consider a Maston outing.
Moving a bit north and east, the Gray Butte trail system is in excellent shape right now and begs to be ridden. For those who have not ridden the new section of trail that leads down from the Butte into the National Grasslands, it' s a must-ride and is easily the most scenic section of single-track trail in Central Oregon.
No matter where you plan to ride, please stay off soggy, muddy sections of trail. The imprints tires make in soft sections of trail now will often remain there until well into the summer riding season. So try and ride where the dirt is already firm.
He'll Be Back
Reigning XTERRA champion, Conrad Stoltz plans to return to live in Bend in June as he gears up for what he hopes will be another season like 2007 where he won the U.S. XTERRA series as well as both the U.S. and World Championships. All that after crashing badly while training for the 2006 U.S. Championship and failing to finish what had been a strong season up to that point.
Friends of Stoltz indicate that the move to Bend with his girlfriend is a permanent one, save for regular trips to his native South Africa.
Without question this upcoming river running season could be the best in years given the mountain snowpack and the slow runoff so far.
It also could be a way interesting season as many of rivers could, once the runoff starts in earnest, change significantly. For example, a fun Class III whitewater kayak run like the South Fork of the McKenzie River can become a pushy Class IV run with only a few more cubic feet per second in flows.
We may also see the converse where normally fun sections of large volume rivers like the lower Deschutes and the North Umpqua get completely washed out, ironically tamed by more water.
But more water is generally better when it comes to rafting, canoeing and kayaking desert rivers. There's no question that the next couple of months will the best conditions on the Owyhee River in years.
And for those looking for a good raft/kayak/canoe experience closer to Bend, try the Dale to Monument run on the North Fork of the John Day River.
For a true adventure even closer to home, try the North Fork of the Crooked River from Deep Creek to the confluence with the main Crooked. This is normally a two day kayak or canoe trip with continuous bouncy Class II to Class III+ water and two major portages around Upper and Lower Falls.
Adventure, casual day trip, or multi-day outing, no matter what you plan to do it's best to check in with Alder Creek Kayak and Canoe to get the latest water level information before heading out on any river trip.
The Taxman Commeth
Not that many years ago a group of friends skinned up Tumalo Mountain on tax day, April 15. Skies were clear; there was 16 inches of new snow and the air temperature was 19 degrees when we reached the top.
The skiing was, in a word, sensational - a reminder that some of the best backcountry skiing, be it crust cruising on skate skis or tele skiing on the fat boards, happens in April and May. And better yet, places like the now way-overcrowded Tumalo Mountain are virtually free of other backcountry users.
And while on the subject of Tumalo Mountain, hats off to our local daily newspaper for running virtually the same first-hand experience skiing/riding story about Tumalo Mountain two years in a row.
The best part of that story was how Tumalo Mountain was portrayed, yet again, as a virtually unknown wilderness place and so extreme. Who would have thunk it.
Local surf icon Gerry Lopez has a new book "Surf is Where You Find It" that's now available in bookstores or at Patagonia.com/surf2008.