Where’s the Snow?

For years Bend was my birthday tradition. My birthday often falls on the holiday weekend. It was a tradition I loved and we stayed in all sorts of different place and different parts of Bend, Sunriver and surrounding areas. Last year we went to the beach instead. It was just as great, but not quite the same! Now that we have Bella we wanted to go back to Bend so we could take her with us. She LOVES the snow and our hope was that she’d be a good snowshoe buddy.


We booked a house in downtown Bend through AirBnB with another couple. Since it had been about 2 years since we’d been to Bend, I was excited to try the new restaurants and breweries that have popped up, see how the town has changed (I’d heard it grew a lot) and of course get some of my beloved Boneyard Beer!

Early Saturday morning I got up and did a kettlebell workout at home. I didn’t want to get up really early and waste time going to the gym, so I did a living room workout while Michael got ready and finished packing.


Then we hit the road! It was a gross, rainy drive. Bella was super excited about the car trip but eventually slept through a lot of it. 🙂

Most of the drive it was pouring rain. We got into Bend around noon and met up with our friends at Brother Jon’s Public House for lunch. The awesome thing about Bend is that everywhere you go, Boneyard Beer is on tap. Everywhere. It’s my #1 favorite beer and so it’s like being in heaven. I can get it anywhere! I got a RPM and a BLTA for lunch. Michael got the steak and blue cheese salad (and gave me a bite–it was delicious!).



My sandwich was okay but it had too much lettuce on it.  While we were at lunch I got a text that the house we rented was ready if we wanted to check in early so we decided to check in, unload the car and then go to the outlet mall (where I got a new jacket and some hiking pants that I’ve desperately needed).

The house we rented was near downtown, less than a mile. The location was fantastic!



The house was adorable and perfect for what we needed. It was two bedrooms, one bath, with a huge fenced yard and plenty of space for four people and a dog. We unpacked our cars and then Michael and I took Bella for a short walk after being in the car for three hours. The house was a block from the river and they were building a nice walking/running path along it (that wasn’t quite done yet).


After shopping we took our growlers to the Boneyard Beer tasting room. We got some tastings and we all filled our growlers with RPM  (four growler!). I bought myself a t-shirt as a birthday present to myself. 🙂 Man do I love their beer.

We went back to the house and we spent the rest of the evening in. The boys went out for burritos and brought them back to the house where we hung out, played card games and enjoyed our beer. The owner of the house had also left us this little treat in the freezer as a welcome gift:


Sunday we got up and ate breakfast and planned on going snowshoeing. That was the entire plan for the weekend. Our friends, Sean and Margie, had never been before and really wanted to try it. We decided to leave Bella at the house and take them to Virginia Meissner Sno-Park. It’s one that Michael and I have done a few times and it’s a fantastic adventure–complete with little cabins in the middle of nowhere that you can dry off and rest in.

Virginia Meissner is a really popular sno-park and unfortunately dogs aren’t allowed, but it was the perfect beginner trail. It’s groomed and it’s not super strenuous. We drove up Mt. Bachelor and I was noticing that there wasn’t any snow on the road or pretty much anywhere…The sun was out and it was warm and beautiful. We got closer and closer to the turn off and realized, uh there’s no snow. There’s ALWAYS snow. We’ve never been to Bend in January and NOT been able to find snow.

Sure enough, the sno-park was empty. There wasn’t enough snow to go out in. We were about 12 miles from the house so we decided to go back to the house and get Bella and go to one of the dog-friendly trails higher up on the mountain. When we got back to the house Margie made us all a picnic lunch and I looked up snow conditions online to check the other trails I’d planned on going to that trip. Sadly, they all reported “Inadequate snow”. What?!? NO SNOW?!

So snowshoeing was a bust. To be continued….

Renting vs. Buying

If you’re not sure of a new sport like skiing, cross-country skiing or snowshoeing then renting the equipment is definitely the way to go. I’ve been snowshoeing every winter for about 5 years now.

The first snowshoeing expedition was in a group lesson with a guide and transportation up to Mt. Hood. It was a good first experience–while it was ALL DAY LONG and I was completely exhausted when I was done, it was still a great experience. As a group we all rented snowshoes together and were instructed on how to use them.

Last year I took Michael snowshoeing for the first time on Mt. Bachelor. We were in Bend for my birthday and I signed us up for a guided adventure through Wanderlust Tours.

That was also a great experience and they provided snowshoes. Again, excellent experiences.

Last year Michael and I went back to Bend with some friends and the four of us rented snowshoes here in Portland and took them with us to Bend. We did the Swampy Lakes Trail Loop without a guide. We had a great time and it was liberating being able to finally trek into the woods and snow without a guide.

Bend with Friends

There weren’t too many “incidents” on that self-guided trek. A few of us did have problems with our rented snowshoes, though. They were the MRS Denali type of snowshoe. In my opinion these are crappy snowshoes. The design is so poor on them.

I hope you can see what I’m talking about as I describe the flaw in the design. The reason the design is poor (and caused difficulties the last few times we used them) is because of the buckle system. The plastic buckles don’t stay closed.

I found the above photo online, it wasn’t taken by me. I didn’t think about taking the photo of the shoes last week. The buckle folds and sort of clasps but it doesn’t stay in the hole of the buckle. Plus, there’s a little plastic lip attached to the show where the buckle SHOULD fit into so it stays closed. It does not in this model. Especially if the plastic lip is broken (which ours were on the rentals).

These types of rentals are also big, bulky and heavier. Instead of this type, I prefer the lightweight aluminum snowshoes that have a looping strap.

Or shoes that have buckles that latch firmly in and don’t move would work too. Check out this excellent website for more descriptions on the different types (recreational/trek/back-country/racing) of snowshoes available.

Don’t let me discourage you from renting. Just make sure you rent the right TYPE of shoe.

Renting is a good thing. If you are still new to the sport it makes better sense to rent it a few times, go on guided and unguided treks to see if it’s even a sport you enjoy. If it is and you plan on going snowshoeing more than once or twice a winter–BUY.

Snowshoe rentals plus poles run between $10-15 a day. That’s not too bad honestly. For $20 a person you can spend the day tromping through the snow. Don’t forget the Sno-Park Passes. There are daily, weekly and yearly passes. In Oregon they run between $5-30.

So if you’re going to go snowshoeing once a year, renting is the best bet. If you’re going to go more than once a year I suggest buying. In fact Michael and I are now looking for snowshoes to buy. I will not rent them again after the last two experiences with bum shoes.

Snowshoeing on Bachelor

Snowshoes AREN’T that expensive either – under $100 for many models. Plus, if you buy from REI they guarantee their products completely; even if you use the product and something breaks on it they will replace it.

I hope this has encouraged some people out there to give snowshoeing a try!

QUESTION: Do you own or rent your snow gear?