Right now the forest sleeps, dormant under snow, ice and grey skies. The days are winter short, and just now slowy getting longer towards the Solstice in five months. The Golden Mantle Ground Squirrels that my Shepherds love to chase are asleep in their burrows. In the higher elevations winter sports are being pursued by outdoors enthusiasts: snowmobiles, dog teams, skiijoring, snowshoers and crosscountry/backcountry skiers are all getting the snowy forest as best they can, until the winter season melts away once again. Visiting the forest at this time requires more planning and forethought than during the other 3 seasons, winter gear for warmth, food, water as always, but the real problem is parking! Only 5 sno parks and Mt Bachelor parking lot are available up the Cascade Lakes Highway, and the highway to the lake is closed to cars until around Memorial Day Weekend, but it remains open to snowmobiles, skiiers and snowshoers, and dog teams all winter. The sno parks all require a sno park permit, available for purchase at many local businesses, especially those businesses that cater to winter outdoor sports, such as The Powder House and Skjersas ski in Bend. As I visit this beaufitul winter forest on my skis, I contemplate the coming season, the slow melting of the snow in April and May bring on the growth of spring mushrooms like the Morel and the Boletes. Wild flowers will burst forth, and then...MOSQUITOS! Yep, be prepared for the summer lakes and flowers and fish, and bring Bug Repellent! And Sunscreen! Enjoy, the Deschutes National Forest!
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