A snow blizzard on a cold December day- this is what Wanderlust Tours calls “perfect play conditions”. Our front desk team headed out tentatively- adorned in our winter finest, following our tour master, Jeff, into Sisters Country to do some snowshoeing.
After some suggestions about our attempted snow attire (“cotton kills” and if you go out in jeans you are going “jersey style”- not good!) Jeff came prepared for our group with different sizes of boots, ski pants and hats to better protect us.
During our approximate 30 minute drive to Upper Three Creeks Snow Park in the snow-capable and ultra comfy Wanderlust van, Jeff answered all our rapid-fire questions and prepared us for white adventure ahead. Once we arrived he assessed our snowshoe needs, instructed us on how to properly strap in and led us out and away.
Being a veteran guide of over 6 years, Jeff had an easy manner and a winning way (with me anyway) of stopping frequently to chat about what we were seeing. I saw beautiful trees and brush, but Jeff showed us how to look closer, how to tell what type of pine we were looking at by how many needle clusters it had and by the scent the broken needles emitted. He talked of dangerous lichen clinging to trees and branches, counseled about tree wells and indulged a question or two about winter survival techniques. All the while he had a close eye on our progress and kept the pace easy- never making me feel like his stopping to give a mini lesson was really more to just let me catch up and catch my breath a bit too.
Open to suggestion and requests, Wanderlust Tours guides’ are flexible, knowledgeable and anything but canned. Potential guides go through 150+ hours of training/shadowing before being on their own. No tour is the same as the next, and you feel that your guide is out there playing too. Ah, so this is where we changed from tentatively following him out to completely trusting him.
After finally getting the hang of this snowshoeing thing, Jeff indicated it may be time to head back to the van that was somewhere over that-a-way. Easily found, he helped get us out of our straps and even snapped a few wind swept pictures before herding us in and offering hot cocoa with marshmallows to help thaw us. The drive back was slower as the snow had accumulated, but gave us time to reflect on our adventure, ask more questions and wonder why we hadn’t done this sooner!
Wanderlust offers a variety of tours for just a few people to large groups, and they can put almost anything together with advanced planning and booking. Groups of 6-8 can be picked up from various general points in Bend and at FivePine Lodge as well. Tours times are three times a day: 8-9am, 12:30-1pm or 6-8pm. They take requests and can tailor the experience to the groups’ needs. Terrain is back country and depending on which park you go to, will be a mix of uphill and descents, they prefer not to come back the same way they headed out and doing a loop of sorts is the goal. Tours last approximately 4 hours and distance traversed will depend on how often you stop to chat, investigate and/or have a hot drink. Children under age 8 are not advised unless accustomed to long treks. Prices vary by season and tour type. Book your own unique tour soon! www.wanderlusttours.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wanderlust offers numerous trips in the winter including a Bonfire on the Snow, Moonlight & Starlight Snowshoe Tour and Shoes, Brews and Views tour. With each tour, they provide snowshoes, transportation, instruction, hot drinks and also winter attire (if necessary).
To get to Upper Three Creeks Sno Park from FivePine Lodge: Take a left from Hwy 20 onto Elm Street (Road 16). Travel south approximately 11 miles to the Upper Three Creeks Nordic Sno-park. Road 16 is not plowed on a regular basis and at times access is limited to the Lower Three Creek Sno-park (9.5 miles). Portions of the road are steep, narrow and may require tire chains or traction devices.