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At Least We Can Still... 

An ode to outdoor activities—one of the few sources of respite in these troubled times

Editor's note: As we publish this, it comes with a caveat: This is not a call to leave your own community and to knock a trip off your bucket list to somewhere you don't live. As the American Alpine Club's post yesterday reminded us, many places we recreate are "rural or gateway communities" that have very small health systems, and Americans should avoid the potential for overburdening those systems during this global pandemic. So take the below tips as ones for locals, by locals. We got this.

It's not going to last forever, but with ski resorts, libraries, venues and other sources of entertainment closed in Central Oregon and beyond this week, the outdoors stands out as one of those things that can't get canceled. (Or can it?!)

Here's how your friendly Source staff is tapping the outdoors, while also minding the guidelines around social distancing.

The Edison Sno-Park's non-motorized trails offer some less-crowded alternatives to Meissner and Swampy. - NICOLE VULCAN
  • Nicole Vulcan
  • The Edison Sno-Park's non-motorized trails offer some less-crowded alternatives to Meissner and Swampy.

Nordic skiing, double commute

By Nicole Vulcan

Nordic skiing has a built-in sense of peace—which is why I've largely swapped it for downhill resort skiing in recent years. Once you leave the parking lot, the forest envelopes you in her silence and solitude. By eschewing some of the more well-traveled trails, such as those at Meissner or Swampy or Dutchman or Wanoga sno-parks, skiers can have all the freedom and people-free-scenes they need. (If I had all-terrain skis, you can bet I'd be doing the backcountry right now, too!)

A friend and I made a pandemic-style plan for classic Nordic skiing recently: Skip carpooling. Meet at the trailhead in our respective vehicles. Avoid the customary Oregon handshake—aka a hug—clip into skis and go. On this day, we opted for the Edison Sno-Park trails, a lesser-visited location on the Edison Ice Cave Road.

In Central Oregon, less-used XC trails are out there. Skipping the before-mentioned busy trails and going for something you've never tried is a good way to try something new during a time when our worlds have shrunk to the size of our homes.

Quarantine escapes

By David Sword

My plan to ski the Haute Route from Chamonix to Zermatt is currently on hold, so to drown my disappointment and alleviate cabin fever, getting into the virus-free outdoors is critical.

SKI: Uphill skiing at Mt. Bachelor is also on hold, but there are plenty of other options for backcountry excursions. Tumalo and Todd Lake see lots of snowmobile traffic and parking is very limited since the gates to Mt. B are locked up. Tam McArthur from Three Creeks also inspires me, and when I'm super motivated, an approach to North Sister from the Pole Creek TH always provides great adventure.

BIKE: Recent snow put a kibosh on gravel bikes for now, but the 4" floatation of a fat bike keeps me pedaling. Wanoga Sno-Park is my go-to here as there are heaps of groomed trails, plenty of parking and it's only 10 minutes from Bend. If I need a 20-30 minute spin, I hit up the Marvin's/KGB/Phil's short loop.

click to enlarge Tam McArthur Rim Trail to Broken Top, at Three Creeks Lake near Sisters. - MARK GORZYNSKI, WIKIMEDIA
  • Mark Gorzynski, Wikimedia
  • Tam McArthur Rim Trail to Broken Top, at Three Creeks Lake near Sisters.

Bend's extensive trail system offers respite

By Laurel Brauns

Every facet of our existence—from sources of income to toilet paper rationing—has been infected by corona-chaos. It's human to seek control of forces beyond ourselves by staying up to date on the latest news, obsessively checking coronavirus outbreak maps or watching the stock market free fall in real time.

But while some of the typical sources of stress relief like hitting the gym or going to yoga are off the table for the unforeseeable future, a simple walk around the 'hood can be a grounding way to reconnect to the present moment. Bend's vast network of interconnected urban trails have hundreds of entry points in walking distance to residential neighborhoods. Sure, social distancing still applies, but given the deserted nature off most public places besides the toilet paper aisle at the grocery store, more than likely you'll have some space to simply breathe in the fresh winter air and let go of some of the anxiety that comes in a time of great uncertainty.

Take up an artistic outdoor hobby like nature photography!

By Cayla Clark

I've always been interested in photography, but I rarely find the time to hone this specific skill. By the time I get home from work, all I really want to do is veg on the couch and binge-watch "Love Island UK." After social distancing for several days, I've spent more time exploring the outdoors and snapping photos than I have in the past... five years. Yikes.

click to enlarge Bottles hanging on a wall! Wow! Artsy! I've been having fun exploring the woods and seeing what strange, photogenic things I fine. - CAYLA CLARK
  • Cayla Clark
  • Bottles hanging on a wall! Wow! Artsy! I've been having fun exploring the woods and seeing what strange, photogenic things I fine.

The good news is, most cellphone cameras are so high-quality that all you need to do is grab your phone and head outside. The snowy woods make for a dramatic setting, and it can be fun to play with "background blurs" and other interesting features—features you might not have access to when shooting with a $1,500 Nikon. Not only has experimenting with photography kept me artistically and physically occupied, it's gotten me out of the house and into the beautiful Oregon forests. Oh, and it's free... and my Instagram has never looked better.

Run like there's no tomorrow

By Isaac Biehl

Self-isolation doesn't mean you HAVE to stay inside. You could still go run a few miles by yourself outdoors, an activity that kills two birds with one stone. For one, you avoid contact with people in public spaces. Second, you're getting in some healthy exercise during this weird period of time. I typically head to the Deschutes River Trail or Riley Ranch for some easier running paths, ones that might even be good to go if this snow lingers around a little longer. If you're really looking to get away from possible crowds, the Badlands will offer more significant isolation for a little longer drive. You truly will feel like the only one out there while running on its vast trail system. Road running is OK, too. Take a few laps through your neighborhood or any preferred route you might have done in the past. It helps with stress!

Just make sure you are dressed appropriately for the weather and are feeling up to it. At times like this, getting exercise can do wonders if you're spending most of your day indoors.


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