By Dusty Trails
Sipping a microbrew by the roaring fire at 10 Barrel Brewing Company might be up there with the favorite funtivities after dark for locals. But in the wintertime, there’s a different kind of nightlife available in Bend that is a little more adventurous than just trying the newest IPA.
With family and friends visiting for the holidays, the trails at Virginia Meissner and Swampy Lakes sno-parks are perfect for nighttime Nordic skiing and snowshoeing. Rustic shelters along the way provide a warm place to relax in front of a wood stove fire, sip hot chocolate and enjoy the company of friends met on the trail, both old and new. If you want to bring your four-legged friends along, head to Wanoga or Skyliners sno-park instead, where dogs are allowed. Don’t forget to bring a light for their collars, so you can see them in the dark, as well as a plastic baggy for you know what.
The full moon can provide a natural light as it reflects off the fresh white snow. The experience presents you with a new perspective about the wilderness—a different kind of calm and quiet that this community’s superior location provides. And unlike during the daytime, it is rare to come across others on the trail at night, making it feel like you have the whole forest to yourself. Just make sure you take along flashlights or headlamps to help you read maps and trail signs, not to mention plenty of warm clothing, water and snacks.
For those who are new to the area or would like to experience nighttime outdoor activities in the company of others, Pine Mountain Sports, Wanderlust Tours, and Bend Parks and Recreation District all offer organized group expeditions, for beginners and experts alike. Pine Mountain, Mountain Supply and REI can also take care of all your needs for renting or purchasing snowshoes, skis and other essential equipment.
Darkness may fall early in the winter, but there is certainly no shortage of adventures to be found not far away from the city lights of Bend. And if you play your cards right, you still get back in time for an IPA at the 10 Barrel fire pit. Cheers!