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Friday, May 1, 2015

Volcano Tour Part 2: Mt. Bailey and Mt. Thielsen

Posted By on Fri, May 1, 2015 at 2:12 PM

On Tuesday morning, the fourth full day of our trip, we headed up Crater Lake Highway, through a tunnel of trees glistening with fresh snow melting in the morning sun. It was a crisp, cold day and the snow was refreshing. We parked on the side of the road between Diamond Lake and the east ridge of Mount Bailey. Without a direct trail to the summit, we decided to bushwhack to the ridge and head straight up 3,000’ to the summit, carrying our skis on our backs until the snow was deep enough to skin. The sun was shining, lighting up Mt. Thielsen to the west and the dark blue waters of Diamond Lake below. Yet the air remained cold enough to keep the fresh snow in its powder form. By the time we reached the top of treeline, I was sinking to my knees as I broke trail. It made for hard work getting up the ridge, but our excitement for Bailey’s east bowls grew with each fluffy step. Storm clouds threatened and at times, the summit became socked in and diminished visibility, but each time, it cleared up again a few minutes later.

We reached the summit, and to our amazement, it wasn’t scoured or wind loaded. There were some enormous cornices across the bowl, but just below us looked good. We did some small tests for stability and quickly realized that not only were we in foot-deep powder, but the snow was totally stable, so we dropped into the bowl and skied the best powder of the year. I know with the lack of snow this year, everyone has said that it was the best powder every time it snowed this year, but seriously. This was legit!

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We paid for our powder turns with a long bushwhack back out to the road. The snow down low had melted, leaving partially hidden logs lurking below the snow and brush, waiting to take us down (and they did, more than once). We reached the road with a mix of exhaustion and relief, ready for a beer and a meal. The Pine Drops IPA I had stashed in the snow managed to stay cold even though most of the surrounding snow melted. Then snow flurries reappeared, so we packed up for a trip to Umpqua hot springs. We arrived late, after dark, and were shocked to find a total party scene and all of the springs occupied. We decided to come back at sunrise with our coffee instead. We crawled into our tent, set up next to the roaring Umpqua, which more than drowned out the noise of the partiers and made for an excellent night’s sleep. In the morning, we had the hot springs to ourselves and the hot water reinvigorated my tired muscles that had been cold for days on end. We hiked out and headed back up to Diamond Lake and the Mt. Thielsen trailhead, where we laid our gear in the sun to dry, made breakfast and got ready for our next volcano.

Mt. Thielsen is an easy hike (on a real trail!) that heads pretty much straight up its west ridge, where it intersects the PCT before emerging above the treeline. Its pointy, 9,183’ summit is an aesthetic icon visible from Crater Lake, Highway 97 and the mountains around Bend. We saw coyote tracks in the snow intersecting the trail and disappearing into the forest. We could also see our tracks in the Mt. Bailey bowl to the west. It was a sunny and warm day, the storms finally having seemed to move on. The snow was soft, but it became mushy as we ascended the slope above treeline, quickly lowering our expectations for the descent. But, it was a beautiful day and we had the mountain to ourselves, so we definitely were not complaining.

We reached the top of the ridge and looked over the steep drop off to the east. Crater Lake's glassy blue waters and Phantom Ship on its surface were just barely visible. From the ridge, the final climb to the base of Thielsen’s summit pinnacle looked really close and was tugging at me. We figured we had enough time to get up and down before dark if we didn’t hesitate too long. We couldn’t see the actual route up the summit pinnacle, so we couldn’t tell whether it was covered in ice or clear, but it couldn’t hurt to go up and check it out, so we dropped our skis and started booting up the slope.

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It was harder going than expected – the snow was deep and really soft, sticking to our boots and causing us to slide backwards. But, we made it to the base of the summit pinnacle, which, it turned out, was partially covered in snow. We still couldn’t make up our minds on whether to try climbing it or head back down to our skis. We were so close. We had been on a roll, bagging the last two peaks, and it was so tempting. Aaron started up the first couple climbing moves to see how it was. I started to follow and lost my confidence after a few moves. I had never climbed rock in my crampons and I wasn’t fully trusting my footing. Plus, it’s not a place where you can take a fall and expect to be okay, and we didn’t have a rope with us. And, even if we made it up, the thought of down climbing was troublesome. We have both been on the summit in summer conditions and decided that it didn’t make sense to take the risk. The descent back down to our skis was still tough in the mushy, slippery snow, and I was scolding myself for pushing it over the top. In the end though, it worked out.

Back at our skis in fading sunlight, we noticed that the snow had firmed up during our little side adventure up to the summit pinnacle. Awesome! We skied down on almost-corn snow for about a thousand feet before it got soft again. Even still, we were able to ski quite a ways down the trail to where we had stashed our shoes for the final hike out on dirt. As we made our way back to the trailhead, we saw the sun light up Thielsen with evening alpenglow before it finally sank behind Mt. Bailey.

Booting up Mt. Thielsen in mushy snow.
  • Booting up Mt. Thielsen in mushy snow.
We cooked burritos and camped at the trailhead for the night. The next day, we would be taking a rest day as we drove north to Mount Adams and Mount St. Helens. We also decided that since we didn’t get to ski Lassen Peak at the beginning of the trip, we would tack a day tour of Mt. Rainier onto the final day of our trip. 
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Friday, April 24, 2015

California and Southern Oregon: Blasting Wind and a Surprise Storm

Posted By on Fri, Apr 24, 2015 at 10:55 AM

The Volcano Tour kicked off with a series of setbacks that altered our plans right off the bat. First, the California Cascades got up to two feet of snow several days before we left Bend, blocking access to the trailhead we needed for Lassen Peak. So, Mt. Shasta became our first objective. Our plan was to spend the first night camping at Helen Lake, at about 10,400’ and then head for the summit at 14,179’ the following morning. We arrived in Mt. Shasta City on Friday evening and stopped to pick up extra batteries and water. To our dismay, we discovered that The Goat Tavern, where we planned to enjoy a post-climb beer and burger, had gone out of business. We found a quirky pizza joint whose entertainment included ancient looking vending machines with temporary tattoos, questionably old gumballs and a “Love Meter” that we fed quarters to learn our sex appeal (my rating was sadly low). But the pizza was good and they had Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA on tap. With fully bellies, we headed up to the mountain and found a place to camp for the night.

On Saturday morning, we loaded up heavy packs and made our way up toward Helen Lake. It was slow going as we adjusted to the weight on our backs, but we got used to it and made good timing, reaching camp in just over three hours. The weather was sunny with storm clouds shifting through, dropping snow flurries, but it wasn’t too cold. The wind, however, was blustery and powerful gusts were increasing as we made camp and cooked soup, hot tea and hot cocoa. We watched snow getting launched over the ridge above us and occasionally making its way down to us. It felt like getting blasted in the face with sand, and with wind burned faces, we retreated into the tent and set an alarm for 3 am.

Those aren't clouds. That is snow getting blasted in every direction by the wind.
  • Those aren't clouds. That is snow getting blasted in every direction by the wind.
At 3 in the morning, the wind had not let up, and combined with the bitter cold, made for a restless night. Concerned about the risk of a wind slab avalanche on the exposed face we intended to climb, we decided not to attempt the summit on this trip. After 14 uncomfortable hours in the tent, we braved the wind, packed up and skied back down to milder conditions.

From there, we booked it back to Oregon and camped at the summit trailhead at Mt. McLoughlin. The weather was sunny and forecasted to continue improving through the week, so we were feeling optimistic and excited. On Sunday morning, we took our time drinking coffee before hitting the trail around 10:30 am. Compared to Mt. Shasta, we expected a mellow day, with about 4,000 feet of climbing to Mt. McLoughlin’s 9,495 foot summit. The hike was relatively mellow, although the wind reappeared during the final 1,000 feet to the summit, gusting strong enough at times to knock me sideways. The ascent was just steep and icy enough for the wind to stir up my fear, and as I kicked my crampons into the snow, I pleaded with the wind for a break. This time, it did give us a break and we successfully reached the summit, snapped some photos, and switched over to skis for a long ride down the northeast bowl and back to camp. The skiing was tough—a grabby, breakable crust—but the views were incredible. We could see the Crater Lake Rim, Mt. Bailey and Mt. Thielsen to the north, Mt. Shasta to the south, and Fourmile Lake and Klamath Lake down below.

Aaron skiing NE bowl of Mt. McLoughlin with Fourmile Lake below.
  • Aaron skiing NE bowl of Mt. McLoughlin with Fourmile Lake below.
Skiing the NE bowl of Mt. McLoughlin.
  • Skiing the NE bowl of Mt. McLoughlin.
Back at the trailhead, we opened celebratory beers (Deschutes Pine Drops IPA) and began cooking dinner. We noticed the temperature had dropped and clouds rolled in, but with the sun low in the sky and a sunny forecast for the week, we didn't think much of it. Then it began spitting rain and lightly hailing, but we laughed, thinking it was just a passing squall. By the time it was dumping snow, we were running back and forth from the picnic table to the car, throwing gear wherever it would fit. We devoured our dinner in the car and then headed out, intending to drive to Mt. Bailey via Medford and the Crater Lake Hwy. As we turned from the forest road to the highway, a full on white out had descended on us. Crawling through the snow at maximum speeds of 25 mph, I was still in denial, thinking that this storm would soon dissipate as quickly as it had appeared. But that didn’t happen. The snow stayed with us almost the entire way to Medford, and exhausted, we pulled onto the first quiet forest road we found and called it good for the night.

In the morning, we woke up to sunshine and blue skies, surrounded by forest of old growth blanketed in sparkly white snow. Feeling revived from the previous night’s ordeal, we made our way up Crater Lake Highway toward Diamond Lake, where  we would spend the next two days climbing and skiing Mt. Bailey and Mt. Thielsen. To be continued... 

Camp along Crater Lake Highway.
  • Camp along Crater Lake Highway.



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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Local Climbing Competition is Friendly Competition

Posted By on Tue, Apr 14, 2015 at 10:54 AM

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A large crowd of parents, coaches, climbers and onlookers gather in the center of the Bend Rock Gym as Melina, a top female and overall competitor pulls, presses and grips her way up the 50-ft rock wall. She is poised to take first place at the SCS Local Competition—if she can make it to the top of this particular route. This route is considered the second hardest of the competition and has yet to see a single ascent. But Melina is climbing it with ease and its not before long that the crowd is cheering her along as she reaches the final holds of the route, guaranteeing first place at the competition. 

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Meanwhile, there are 49 other routes and approximately 100 other competitors either climbing or resting before there next climb. Teams from Portland, Spokane, Seattle and of course Bend have all come to participate in this friendly competitive event. For many of the climbers this is a stepping stone towards regional or even national competitions. But for most it’s about enjoying climbing and cheering each other on.

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Parents and competitors alike show little stress or concern for the outcomes of their climbs. Sure, some climbers show disappointment but nothing seems to last longer than time it takes to tie-in for their next climb. Some parents are gathered along the bouldering mats eating boxed lunches and enjoying a relaxed view of the competition. Cheers flow easily from every corner of the gym and to every climber on the wall. 


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Friday, April 10, 2015

Cascade Volcano Ski Tour - Seven Volcanoes in Nine Days

Posted By on Fri, Apr 10, 2015 at 4:36 PM

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Some people take vacations to go relax on a beach, perhaps even a resort, as a way to check out from daily life and just be—do nothing or maybe even indulge in things they might otherwise forego. Others prefer to spend their time away actively, perhaps doing more of the things they normally only get to do occasionally, on the weekends—bike, hike, backpack, ski or explore a state or national park. Even fewer still take time off work to blend travel and active pursuits—to race international marathons or triathlons, to go on yoga retreats, or to rock climb or surf at world renowned destinations. I definitely fall in the latter group. That's why I'll be spending the next nine days cramming in as much adventure into my life as I can handle. For me, the best place to find adventure is in the Cascade Mountains of the Pacific Northwest. 

My partner and I will be driving south on Friday, April 10, camping at the trailhead of the Cascade Range's southernmost volcanic peak—Lassen Peak (if the road is open)—and then climbing, summiting (weather permitting) and skiing Lassen Peak on Saturday. From there, we'll move north to Mt. Shasta, a 14,000 foot peak, and we'll spend two days climbing and skiing the mountain, spending one night camping on the mountain at 10,000 feet. Our plan is to stop at the the Billy Goat Tavern in Shasta City for a well-earned burger before making the drive up to Mt. McLoughlin in Southern Oregon. We'll climb and ski McLoughlin and then continue north to Mt. Bailey and Mt. Thielsen. We'll skip the Central Oregon peaks and round out the week climbing and skiing Mt. Adams and then Mt. St. Helens. 

We do have one rest day built in—it will be the day we drive from Thielsen to Adams. This will also be the day to restock any supplies or food that we may need. Of course, our itinerary and successful peak bagging is entirely dependent on things like cooperative weather and maintaining physically healthy and mentally energized. The mountains can be fickle, especially in the spring, so we'll work with what the conditions of each day present. With any luck, we'll get some incredible views of the Pacific Northwest, lots of adventure, great skiing, and we'll come home with tired bodies and rejuvenated hearts. 

Check back with The Source Weekly for a post-trip recap and follow @sourceweekly and @allimmmiles on Instagram for periodic trip updates. 
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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Get Out And Play, Spring Is Here!

Posted By on Tue, Mar 10, 2015 at 3:05 PM

DELANO LAVIGNE
  • Delano Lavigne
Temperatures this past weekend were unseasonably high and although baleful in some respects, the warm temperatures and beautiful blue skies encouraged many Central Oregonians out of the house and into the great outdoors.

The average temperature in Bend for the month of March is normally between 40º F and 50º F. This past weekend, Bendites and other Central Oregonians experienced temperatures as high as 70º F. Oregon’s Smith Rock State Park, a rock-climbing Mecca during the spring, saw temperatures at the base of the cliffs as high as 80º F.

“The weather is incredible. Frighteningly warm but incredible,” says Bend newcomer Sara Violett who spent the weekend climbing at Smith Rock. 

On the sun-stroked slopes of Mt. Bachelor, temperatures over the weekend were reported to be as high as 60º F.

“I skied in nothing more than a long-sleeve shirt [this Saturday],” says Bend local Logan Karr, “and now I am climbing at Smith seeking shade." 

Temperatures for this coming week seem to be carrying the trend, albeit with some much needed precipitation in the forecast. But the time Saturday morning arrives, there will be few reasons keeping Central Oregonians from adventuring into the outdoors. 

An easy and always rewarding day adventure is a hike along the beautiful Crooked River that winds through Smith Rock State Park. And at this time of year, bird watchers will certainly enjoy the frenzied activity along the oasis that the Crooked River is in this otherwise desert land. Canadian geese, blue herons, numerous birds of prey and river otters (obviously not a bird but certainly worth mentioning) all make Smith Rock their home at this time of year. 

Another easy adventure, which is almost guaranteed to be less crowded than Smith Rock, is a walk or run along the Deschutes River south of Bend. In this wonderfully forested landscape, hikers, walkers or runners are offered great views of the Cascades, Benham Falls and the Central Oregon's lava fields.

So whether your outdoor fix is skiing, climbing, biking, running, or simply enjoying a pensive walk along the Deschutes River, get ready because the weather gods of Central Oregon seem eager to please. 

DELANO LAVIGNE
  • Delano Lavigne

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Serial Vandal Defaces National Parks with Acrylic Paintings

Posted By on Thu, Oct 23, 2014 at 12:40 PM

Graffiti overlooking Crater Lake. - MODERN HIKER
  • Modern Hiker
  • Graffiti overlooking Crater Lake.
We like to imagine that "outdoor recreator" and "nature lover" are mutually inclusive terms. Unfortunately, some people are not so humbled by nature that they feel inspired to treat the wilderness with respect. That, and/or their parents failed to teach them manners. (Examples: Those Boy Scouts who tipped over an ancient rock formation, people who get drunk and shoot cans of hairspray in arid environments).

The most recent/egregious offender is an "artist" by the name of Casey Nocket. As Modern Hiker first reported, the woman has apparently been painting rock formations in national parks across the county, including Crater Lake National Park, and posting photos of her graffiti on Instagram.

Whether she's inspired by the pictographs by indigenous residents or the elusive Banksy, the National Park Service is not impressed. (Neither are we.) According to Modern Hiker, a National Park Service Ranger is launching an investigation. Though the woman, who goes by the handle "creepytings," appears to have set her Instagram to private, she is believed to have defaced natural features in Death Valley, Yosemite, Canyonlands, Zion, and The Ginn Mill. 

Actual nature lovers are understandably angered, and a petition is now circling asking that, if found guilty, the woman face the maximum penalty.

What do you think is an appropriate punishment for defacing national parks?


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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon Takes on Title Sponsorship of Cascade Cycling Classic

Posted By on Wed, Oct 15, 2014 at 1:51 PM

BRIAN HODES
  • Brian Hodes
Regence BlueCross Blue Shield of Oregon has signed on as the new title sponsor for the Cascade Cycling Classic's 2015-2017 races, Mt. Bachelor Sports Education Foundation announced today. The longest running professional stage race in the nation is produced by and benefits MBSEF. When the race lost its previous title sponsor, fans fretted that it could spell the end for the popular event.

“We received numerous calls from people that expressed concern that the race might be cancelled, even from non-bike race followers,” said MBSEF Executive Director John Schiemer in a release. “The race has been heavily rooted in the community since 1979, and we are grateful that Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon stepped in so this longstanding tradition can continue. There are over 100 Central Oregon families that open their homes to the pro riders during the event. In some cases the friendships between host families and riders/team directors have spanned 20-30 years.” 

Regence officials said sponsorship of the race aligns with the health insurance company's mission.

“Regence’s sponsorship of the Cascade Cycling Classic is an investment in the health and vitality of Central Oregon,” said Scott Burton, Director of Business and Community Development at Regence in the release. “These incredible athletes inspire us all to pursue healthy lifestyles, and we’re thrilled and humbled to play a part in keeping this important event right where it belongs.”

The next Cascade Cycling Classic will be presented by BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon July 22-26.
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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Mt. Bachelor Announces Season Pass Pricing and Pass-holder Perks

Posted By on Thu, Aug 28, 2014 at 1:13 PM

MT. BACHELOR
  • Mt. Bachelor


With temps in the 90s and the river still packed with tubers squeezing the last drops out of summer, it's hard to think about ski and snowboard season. But we'll be checking snow reports before we know it. And with Mt. Bachelor season passes going on sale in September (and getting more spendy come October), it's time to gear up and start praying for some of that white stuff.

Here's the scoop season pass pricing:
Season pass rates purchased before September 30 are priced at $869 for adults. Young Adult (ages 19-26) pass prices will be $399; Teen (13-18) and Senior 70+ are priced at $289; passes for youth ages 6- 12 are priced at $179; passes for Seniors ages 65-69 are $559. Season passes for children younger than age 6 remain $29. Midweek, non-holiday prices for adults will be $589 for adults and $459 for seniors ages 65-69.

The price increase on season passes represents a $20 increase over last year’s prices for adults, and a $10 increase on most other pass products. All pass prices will go up on October 1.
But, wait, there's more:
Full season passes also come with “Pass Perks.” Each full season pass holder is entitled to up to three days of skiing or riding at each of Mt. Bachelor’s sister resorts: Copper Mountain, Colorado; Park City Mountain Resort, Utah; Boreal, California; Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard Resort in Nevada and Killington, Vermont. Teen, Youth and Child full season passes come with unlimited skiing or riding at these sister resorts.
Can't pay all up front? That's cool:
Payment plans for season passes require a down payment of $49 for each pass ordered by September 16, with $20 serving as an administrative fee. Equal payments for the balance are due October 15 and November 15 and will be automatically charged to purchasers’ credit cards.
And don't forget the kids. FYI, these programs tend to sell out:
Seasonal childrens’ programs are offered in three- and nine-week configurations on Saturdays and Sundays, and serve a range of different interests.

“Mighty Mites” and “Mighty Riders” serve skiers ages 6 – 14 and snowboarders ages 7 – 14, respectively, and are priced at $149 for three-week sessions and $439 for nine-week sessions. Classes run from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. each day.

“All Mountain Skiers” and “All Mountain Riders” serve skiers ages 4 – 6 and snowboarders ages 5 – 6, respectively, and are priced at $159 for three-week sessions and $469 for nine-week sessions. Classes run from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. each day.

Childrens’ program payment plans require a down payment of $49 per child, with $10 serving as an administrative fee. Equal payments for the balance are due at the end of October and November and will be automatically charged to purchasers’ credit cards.
If you can't commit to the full season, here are the day pass prices:
Mt. Bachelor will hold the line on single-day lift ticket prices this winter, with adult single-day tickets offered at $79; Teen (ages 13-18) and Senior (ages 65-69) will be $67, and Youth (ages 6-12) and Seniors 70+ will be $47.
Need more info? Visit the Mt. Bachelor website.
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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Vote for Bend's Hottest Après Ski Spot

Posted By on Tue, Mar 4, 2014 at 5:43 PM

Alright, outdoorsy folks (i.e. everyone in Bend, Ore.), the Oregonian's Après Ski project is in full swing and the newspaper is asking for your votes for the best post-ski hang out in Bend.

Today an article was posted entitled "Bend readers pile on praise for their favorite after-ski party spots (poll)" so do as The Oregonian tells you and vote, vote, VOTE! Check it out here!

Continue reading »

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One Minute, Seven Wonders of Oregon

Posted By on Tue, Mar 4, 2014 at 9:52 AM

Travel Oregon's new ad campaign depicting the Seven Wonders of Oregon is pretty darn cool. Check out gorgeous footage of Mount Hood, the Oregon Coast, The Columbia River George, The Painted Hills, Smith Rock, The Wallowas and Crater Lake in their new commercial below.

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Monday, December 23, 2013

Kolby Kirk (The Hike Guy) Recounts his Best Hikes of the Year

Posted By on Mon, Dec 23, 2013 at 3:11 PM

Kolby Kirk is the authority when it comes to hiking in Bend. This year, he is on track to complete his "100 Hikes Project,” a resolution to hike 100 times and 700 trail miles by 2014. Kirk also runs thehikeguy.com and is a generally jovial and knowledgeable guy. Read below for his top 5 hikes of 2013! Thanks for sharing with the Source, Kolby! See you on the trail.

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  • Kolby Kirk

Top Five Hikes in/around Bend
By Kolby Kirk
1. Shevlin Park - Within the 650-acres of mostly undeveloped land lying just west of town, there's a frayed-rope of trails running through the small canyon. Each season offers a new look at nature. I've seen great horned owls and golden mushrooms in the autumn, bald eagles in the winter, and dozens of types of wildflowers in the spring and summer. Don't let the label of "park" fool you; this place is a nature-lover's paradise.

Continue reading »

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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Crater Lake's East Rim Drive Car-Free This Weekend Only

Posted By on Thu, Jun 20, 2013 at 2:16 PM

CraterLakecredit-AlmostNormalPhotography.jpg
  • Almost Normal Photography

Yes. True story. The National Park Service announced today that this weekend only the scenic East Rim Drive at Crater Lake National Park will be closed to cars and open to cyclists, runners and walkers. The deal, which hinged on a low-snow year, was negotiated by Travel Oregon and Cycle Oregon (but has been bandied about for years). U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio was also instrumental in pulling off the car-free weekend.

From the NPS site:

"I am pleased the National Park Service is taking advantage of the unexpected early snowmelt to allow cyclists and pedestrians vehicle-free access to much of the road around Crater Lake," said U.S. Representative Peter DeFazio. "I have encouraged the National Park Service to provide this kind of opportunity at Crater Lake for several years. I applaud their willingness to allow this kind of use this weekend, giving Oregonians a great chance to experience the park in a different way."

Pack up and go south this weekend. Maybe a strong cyclist/runner/walker turnout will encourage the NPS to make the car-free weekend an annual occurrence. Note, there will be cars on a few of the other park roads (see below).

Continue reading »

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