Snow Trial on the Canal Trail
BY GEOFF BABB
The scouting report called for plowed, packed snow on the service road that serves as the Canal Trail along the Deschutes River. The fresh snow from the night before should give good traction, a good “joggable” surface, similar conditions to a trip a few years ago. The forecast was for 28 degrees with partly cloudy skies; good conditions considering that we had just survived “Snowmageddon” where a record 2-3 feet of snow had fallen the week before (we ended up with a bright, sunny 35-degree day).
With Brian pulling and John driving we set out from the parking lot and immediately encountered a 2 ft high berm of packed snow at the curb cut and 300 ft of un-shoveled sidewalk before getting to the trail itself. The sidewalk was rough, uneven, and covered with 8 to 12-inch chunks of hard snow. After a lot of pulling and pushing, we made it to the trail itself.
We soon realized a problem with the scouting report – it only mentioned the plowed, packed road and we were still a quarter-mile from it. The trail had a well packed 18-inch-wide path with 8 inches of soft powder on either side. The packed snow was plenty solid but not wide enough for the wheels of the AdvenChair. The front wheel would slide off the path, causing the chair to tilt to the left, then right. The road was too far away, and it didn’t take long for us to agree that this wasn’t very much fun. So we turned around and headed back to the parking lot.
In our AAR – after AdvenChair review – in the parking lot we agreed that the trail was too rough today. Had we made it to the road, we would have had smooth rolling. We did learn that the fiberglass towing polls are too rigid to maneuver around obstacles like frozen chunks of snow, but that pulling with nylon straps is easier. The front wheel didn’t track well, but the ground clearance of the foot plate was excellent, easily clearing the chunks. A walk through the neighborhood on partially bare roads sounded like a much better option. It was a rough slog on the trail and we learned a lot. We finished the day with a nice walk through a new neighborhood.