Last month I made the snowy journey south from Seattle to Mt. Bachelor. Situated within the Deschutes National Forest in the scenic Cascade Range of central Oregon. I cannot emphasize enough how treacherous the roads were this trip, especially because we first stopped in north eastern Oregon to see some family for a delayed Christmas gathering. This positioned us back tracking west along the Columbia River Gorge and then south on highway 97 through central Oregon. Fortunately, I’m traveling in what some have described as a house on wheels. The Jeep Wrangler Rubicon has been outfitted with a wench, steel bumpers, auxiliary lighting and a pop up camper top accessible from inside or outside the vehicle (soon to have additional water storage, built in cabinetry and I’m sure many more fun additions. The camper top is equipped with built in mattress, battery power lighting and USB plug ins. The canvas sides zip open much like a tent where you can choose to let fresh air come through the screens, or keep them up, which is pretty much how they stay in the chilly winter months.
After safely driving almost 460 miles (Seattle -> Hermiston -> Bend) we finally reached the Deschutes National Forest area. One place I look forward to visiting every year is the town of Bend, Oregon. Located approximately 23 miles east of Mt. Bachelor, Bend is a wonderland of craft brewing. It is home to such breweries as 10 Barrel Brewing Co, Deschutes Brewing, Crux Fermentation Project and Boneyard Beer Co. Craft beer makes my heart happy and Bend has the best of it. After a frothy beverage at a new favorite – Good Life Brewery, it was time to find the perfect place to camp for the night. Given the sun had already set and the icy road conditions, we decided to drive about 3 miles outside the city to a trail head parking lot. Any access to hiking trails were buried in several inches of snow and had to yet been traversed by hikers or snowshoers. As there were no signs of life, traffic or company in the area we decided to pop the top and turn in for the night.
The following two days were devoted to hitting the slopes. The mountain is 9,065 feet high and totes 4,300 acres of skiable terrain. Central Oregon is known for having numerous sunny winter days, so we were graced with gorgeous 360 views. Looking north offers views of both South Sister Peak and Broken Top Peak. With 101 runs one can always find new runs to explore.
With great weather, unlimited outdoor entertainment, and the best beer in the region, the Deschutes National Forest is a place I never want to leave, in fact, it’s where I hope to retire. But until that day comes, I’ll keep trekking to this beautiful treasure of the Pacific Northwest.