After 18 years of marriage, I am well aware that Valentine’s Day is far more the Chocolate and Roses. Coming up with new and more inspirational ideas is a difficult task… unless you live in Central Oregon!
I was able to convince my wife to trust me with the evening’s plans. She had simple instructions for the night – Wear Sorel boots and dress for a winter activity. She was certainly puzzled as we drove up Elm Street in Sisters and climbed towards the Three Sisters Snow Park. The destination did not intrigue her as much as the limited daylight remaining. The winter trails emanating from the Snow Park are varied, based on your preferred mode of travel. Backcountry skiing, Snowmobiling, Nordic Skiing, Snow Biking (See Blazin’ Saddles), and Snowshoeing are all options once you park.
The weather was crystal clear and a comfortable 28 degrees as I unloaded two pair of snowshoes and set them on the snow. One medium sized backpack was the only other item needed and we were climbing up a gradual grade towards the Jeff Vue Warming Hut. Though the sun had set, the sky remained lit well enough to continue on the 2.7 mile hike without the need for additional lighting. The snow was very soft, but we made quick work of the trek with some quality equipment. Snowshoeing allows for great communication (something needed with 3 children and endless obligations). We had the trail to ourselves this evening, but we found the warming hut occupied when we rounded the final turn of our uphill portion.
After some friendly conversation and taking a photo of us, the couple left to run back down to the snow park. We placed another log on the fire, and I began laying out the food items and wine I had brought up. My wife marveled at the spectacular view as she drank for the bottle of wine… that’s right, Mr. Romantic had forgotten any form of cup. With the view we were enjoying, it held little consequence. Turkey, cheese, crackers, some fun candy and mini cans of Coke rounded out the night’s offerings.
We stayed in the shelter well into the evening, enjoying simple bites of food and sipping from our wonderful bottle of French wine (a local wine from my wonderful friend Olivier’s home region). The fire kept us warm enough as the temperatures dropped to the teens. As the fire burned down, we cleaned up our space, re-stocked the wood supply and placed headlamps on. It was time to hike back to the car by the moon and headlamps. With the assistance of wine and inspired by interruption free conversations, we made short work of the return adventure. Valentine’s Day accomplished!
I would not suggest Snowshoeing in poor weather. Bring all emergency gear needed to survive in the wilderness and pack out what is packed in. Needed: French Wine, Snowshoes, map, and a best buddy!