It’s Monday morning, there is broken sunshine but still on the cool side, a radical departure from last week’s 60-plus heated days. The changeable weather was even more apparent Sunday with the snow falling most of the morning. We got over an inch down here and in the upper reaches of Mazama there were over two inches that fell.

Spring, if not in the air, is certainly on the ground. Intrepid hiker Eric Burr produced a lengthy survey of the emerging flora in the Mazama area for flower seekers and bikers. On the latter topic he reports that the Monument Creek trail was clear other than for a snow patch he was able to bike through. There are glacier lilies at the start of the trail and it is hikeable for two maybe three miles to the Pasayten Wilderness border. The Robinson Creek trail is also melted out, but may still have some snow at the second mile where it is north-facing.

In the woods between Spokane Gulch and the climbing rocks, the balsam roots are now blooming. Sure seems early for them up here and we’ve had reports of their appearance to the south. Another early bonus, says Burr, is that the bluebirds are back, up high in the Goat Wall’s ledge meadows. The Aspen Glades just above the Silver Star highway gate is a good place for end-of-season snowshoers and hikers.

“Bikers easily outnumbered all others above Silver Star as they take advantage of our most scenic car-free cycling opportunity,” says Burr.

Take advantage of it while you can. The chat is that Highway 20 up there will be opening “soon.”

From colleague Ashley Lodato came the following email: “Apparently a Mazama guy has won First Runner-Up in the Ellen Meloy Fund for Desert Writers writing contest  …” She suggested contacting the person, Brendan Buzzard in Mazama. Having never heard the name, let alone the contest, I asked a few people and none knew who it was. I called Isaac Buzzard, who told me that he’s heard the name but it was no relation to his family. I found two listings in the phone book and called one and there was no response, and calling the other, got dead air, not even an operator intercept.

This morning I queried Rick LeDuc about the name and he stated there were Buzzards (accent on the last syllable) living at Lost River, but thought they were out of the country. So, I have no news beyond the writing award mentioned above. Ashley did provide a link to what the contest is about, this being http://www. Ellenmeloy.com/.

Welcome back to Rick, Missy and Sylvie LeDuc, who had a whirlwind week of a road trip beginning with rock climbing at Banks Lake in the Coulee, through Wyoming to Devil’s Tower, then back through Montana for more climbing and a cave exploration. One of the stops was to visit daughter Claire, in college at Bozeman. The elders and the minor spent the night in their VW van in a driveway near Claire’s off-campus housing. Her friends thought that was pretty cool.

Like Back to the Future, with no flowers and rainbows painted on the rig.