Tennis, golf ... or skiing? That's the question

As far as I'm concerned, this is entirely the fault of the 1,900 Mount Ashland skiers. They just had to have one more weekend of skiing, didn't they, and now nature's confused.

And so's my body. After sweating through yard work on an 84-degree Saturday a week ago yesterday and a 78-degree Sunday, we were greeted by the news that due to a good turnout of skiers, the mountain would stay open for another weekend. The next day, the high temperature in Medford was 54 degrees, there's snow in the foothills and I'm home with a sore throat and a fever.

Welcome to springtime in Southern Oregon. It dazzles you with the possibilities and then whacks you upside the head with a cold dose of reality.

It probably doesn't need any help in conjuring up bizarre weather patterns. But I'm still pinning this on the ski area. It's a clever idea: Mount Ashland passed the word among its flat-stickers and boarders that if at least 1,500 of them turned out on the weekend of April 12-13, the area would open the mountain again for this weekend.

And then 1,900 of them simply ignored the fact that 84-degree weather is intended for golfing, tennis and yard work. They skied in glorious sunshine on a mountain that boasted more than 10 feet of snow. What were they thinking?

Don't get me wrong. I've skied at Mount Ashland many times, although less so now that our kids are grown and my knees are groaning. It's a great asset to the Rogue Valley, one of many that makes Southern Oregon such a recreational hot spot.

Did I say hot spot? That was then, this is now. As I drove to work Saturday, I noticed the blossoms wafting through the air. Then I noticed the blossoms were sticking to my windshield and melting into little damp spots. It was snow. On April 19. At 1 o'clock in the afternoon.

It gets better. Saturday night's forecast: 28 degrees, with snow. By the time you read this, I may be in my backyard, rolling out a snowman on top of the new grass seed I planted last week when it was just a bit nicer — did I mention that it was 84 degrees last Saturday?

Now I've always said that one of the great things about Southern Oregon are those weekends when you can get up in the morning and decide whether you want to play golf or go skiing. But Mount Ashland has gone too far when you get up on April 20 and the only realistic choice is skiing.

I think the local golf courses should strike back. Next November, set a goal for turnout on local courses and if the golfers meet it, give them a deal the following weekend. It's only fair.

Now where did I put those snow boots?

Bob Hunter is editor of the Mail Tribune. Call him at 776-4460 or send an e-mail to

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