In the shadows


News staff writer

March 29, 2006

Cross-country skiing will never sell a Nissan Xterra or a can of Mountain Dew as effectively as its more extreme counterparts.

As a marketing tool, it’s sort of stuck on the same B roll of film that road bikers and downriver canoeists have had to get used to.

It just doesn’t look thrilling enough on a 26-inch screen.

But cross-country skiing is thrilling and it does have a few distinct advantages over its more gradient-inclined crossover sports:

You can’t take your dog with you down a steep powder meadow as easily as you can on a cross-country ski trail.

The sport is simple enough for first-timers to do without cussing. And technical enough to challenge longtime experts.

A pair of alpine skis or a snowboard won’t help you explore miles and miles of flat and ascending terrain as enjoyably as a pair of cross-country skis will.

And let’s face it: sweat rarely feels better than that perspired in spite of the clear, crisp 20-degree-weather.

Perhaps because of these reasons, this very old mode of winter travel continues to thrive. And one of the most popular places in Oregon to do it is along Highway 35.

Within a 30- to 45-minute drive, you can climb out your car seat and into terrain that varies from open glades to thick forests and snow-filled creekbeds. You can gaze into Mount Hood’s shoulders as you put miles and miles of trail behind you.

On the following page, we have included some of the best cross-country ski trails in Hood River County. Categories are ranked from 1 to 5, with 1 representing the least and 5 representing the extreme. Please turn to Page B2 for a description of these trails.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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