I had never been snowshoeing before today. A PNW upbringing, generous rental privileges while working at Berg’s, proximity to Oregon’s epic backcountry and close proximity to the terrains of Bachelor, Hood, and the Sisters provides the context so that you, dear reader, might understand how utterly pitiful of a statement that is. That same context also explains the inclusion of this somewhat simple goal on my list. In a way, this goal was a cheat; upon penning the list, I already had promised myself that I would snowshoe in Lebanon, taking advantage of mountain terrain within a short drive of the capital and the guidance of a local outdoor group. (A brief side note: such groups seem to abound in Beirut. The city-locked can venture beyond the concrete most weekends via hikes, multi-day trips, and snow excursions, planned, promoted and executed by Cyclamen, Lebanese Adventures, or any number of like companies. And for the more adventurous, a good map, commonsense, and rough ability to pronounce your destination’s name make it entirely possible to venture out solo.)
I have found that a generally foolproof antidote to the city’s commotion is a day elsewhere. As a native Oregonian ( 254,805 sq km), it is one of my strongest boasts of the state that any desired terrain can be accessed whether one prefers the mountains, coastal chaos, high dessert, or dense forrest. Diminutive Lebanon (10,400 sq km) offers the same reality, and many of means make an active practice of skiing during the morning before coming down the mountain to enjoy a day at the beach. (For those who didn’t quite get the math, Lebanon is as wide as Lane County, and would not even fill the Willamette Valley…)
The obligatory manouche stop, what I am beginning to believe is an unwritten rule governing any out of town trip, began the day. Though making for less than ideal conditions, the bright February sun caused Mt. Sannine and Baskinta, nestled at the base, to shimmer. The snow went from shellack in shaded ares to popcorn and eventually slush, the higher than expected temperatures and consequent melt necessitating a quick recalculation of the planned route, resulting in at least 70% being off trail. Within an hour, most outer layers had been shed, a few of us down to Tshirts despite the drifts we tramped through. Our circumnavigation took us past remnants of the civil war (bunkers, etc.) and pristine alpine runs before we dropped into the terraces and shuttered dwellings of a mountain village. While the jury is still out on how regular of an activity snowshoeing will be for me, exploring another corner of Lebanon and checking off #15 was well worth the day.