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Skiing options abound within Annie Creek’s reach

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Gary Vequist makes his way on cross-country skis in search of Annie Creek. [Photo by Lee Juillerat]
Annie Creek is visible through the forest above its flowing waters. [Photo by Lee Juillerat]
Gary Vequist makes his way on cross-country skis in search of Annie Creek. [Photo by Lee Juillerat]
Annie Creek is visible through the forest above its flowing waters. [Photo by Lee Juillerat]

We were looking for Annie.

Our search took us off the easy trail, instead causing us to meander up and around trees, fallen limbs and rocks showing through not-so-deep snow.

We heard Annie before we saw her, the sounds filtering through the forest.

At last, from an overlook, we looked down on Annie, alive and well. Below us, from our perch above, Gary Vequist and I spotted briskly flowing Annie Creek winding its way from its tributary in Crater Lake National Park on its 15-mile journey to the Wood River and, eventually, Upper Klamath Lake.

Searching for Annie wasn’t in our plans when we started skiing a few hours earlier from Annie Creek Sno-Park, located off Highway 62 north of Fort Klamath and just below Crater Lake’s south boundary. When there’s ample snow, options for cross-country skiing are plentiful from the parking area. On a whim, instead of following a trail that heads east toward Jackson F. Kimball State Park, Gary and angled north.

The snow was a bit sketchy, with often unseen, uneven snow-covered grooves made earlier by pickups and snowmobiles. Now a closed gate prevented motorized vehicles from crossing the creek below the parking area. Because of the rumpy conditions, instead of a zippy downhill glide from the sno-park parking lot, we walked carrying our skis, then stepped into them after awkward, yogalike, twisty leg-lifts over the gate.

When there’s abundant snow, the choices beyond the gate are abundant. Most follow snow-covered roads into western sections of Jackson F. Kimball State Park. Some stay in slivers of the Fremont-Winema National Forest. Nearby, too, are the far southern sections of Crater Lake National Park’s panhandle.

“Let’s go this way,” Gary said at a junction where a trail heads north.

Sure, why not?

It was pleasant skiing, kicking and sometimes gliding through the little visited forest. As we skied north, we passed signs hammered on trees: “United States Department of the Interior, Boundary Line, National Park Service.” We were just along the east flanks of Crater Lake’s panhandle.

Sometime later, the forest gave way to an open, snow-covered meadow. A distant sign roused my curiosity, so I skied to it. Once close enough, I chuckled. In black letters on a bright green board in the snowy white field the sign instructed: “Fire Season in Effect – All Burning is Prohibited.”

Burning to keep moving, we continued skiing, angling back into the forest.

“Let’s see if we can find Annie Creek,” Gary challenged.

Soon we were truly cross-country skiing, not kicking and gliding but, instead, cautiously stepping, weaving our way up and around the previously mentioned obstacles. We tried to aim west but wove an uneven path. Knowing that Annie Creek flows through a deep ravine bordered by sheer volcanic rock cliffs, we made our way inevitably uphill.

Eventually, hearing the sounds of Annie Creek’s surprisingly rushing waters, we skied to an opening looking down into the canyon. Our quest had ended, both of us content to view tumbling Annie Creek from our perch. Trying to ski, or even hike, down the steep, icy cliffs to the river was not an option.

Instead, we snacked and soaked in the view, happy and content that, indeed, we’d found Annie.

Getting there

From Medford, the drive usually best in snowy conditions is via Highway 62 about 80 miles to Crater Lake’s South Entrance and continuing south about 10 miles to the well-signed Annie Creek Sno-Park. Sno-park permits are required.

From Klamath Falls, take Highway 97 north for 24 miles to the turnoff for Highway 62. Follow Highway 62 through and past the community of Fort Klamath to Forest Road 6237, where the turnoff for Annie Creek Sno-Park is well-signed.

Reach freelance writer Lee Juillerat at 337lee337@charter.net or 541-880-4139.