Dry River Gorge snowshoe

January 11, 2017.

5.2 mi. | 300′ ele. gain | 3 hr.

It was another bluebird day in Central Oregon and I needed to go for a hike. Well, need is a strong word, but that’s how I felt. I had an itch to add some variety to the Hike366 project list. I had already done a hike on January 11, but I didn’t have many great pictures or a really strong memory of what that hike was about. So, this date was on my “re-do” list. Plus, I had a hiking buddy lined up, great weather and fresh snow!

We drove east of Bend to the Dry River Canyon. This hike is closed half the year for raptor nesting. Since the birds don’t nest in the winter, it was the perfect time to visit.

Amanda’s little car was not going to make it to the actual trailhead, so we parked in a large, snow-covered gravel lot above the dirt road leading down to the trail.

It was cold, even in our layers. I could feel the brisk air on my bare skin. We crunched ahead in our snowshoes, following other tracks in the snow. The canyon was cool, dark and quiet. We chatted as we walked, enjoying each other’s company. Lately I’ve been doing a pretty 50/50 mix of going out alone and going with partners or groups. Both strategies have their value and their place in my life. If I do too much of one without the other, then it feels like something is out of balance.

After walking for a little over two and a half miles, we came to a jumble of large boulders. According to my route research, most people turn back here. It would be possible to pick up the trail again beyond the boulder field, but in these conditions that seemed like a really bad idea. Snow covered up the gaps between the rocks, making it very tricky to know what was solid and what was not. We decided to stop here and have a snack before turning around and returning to the car.

The adventure wasn’t over, however.

As we returned to the big gravel lot, I started veering towards some large, snow-covered hills. HOW COULD WE SKIP THE SUMMIT? I asked aloud. Mere gravel piles in summer, these were now precious snow objectives in winter. We pressed uphill.

Huffing and puffing, we made it to the top of the largest pile and celebrated. The fun part was going down.

Hooray for another great day on the trails! It will be interesting to see what this hike looks like with all the snow gone.

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