If you are follow any runners or outdoorsy people on social media these days, you’re likely to have come across the hashtag #inbend. Bend – the outdoors capital of the west. Bend – home to cool, beautiful people. Bend – centre of pretty much everything we love as a family. So you could say I was kind of excited to finally visit the place and to use the elusive hashtag 🙂
We started the day at the Timberline Lodge on Mt Hood with the best breakfast we have had for a LONG time. We initially baulked at the price of the breakfast buffet – $16 for an adult, $10 for a kid but we couldn’t really find cheaper alternatives so somewhat grumpily decided to spend the money, making it clear to the Dude that he had to eat his body’s weight in food and we’d skip lunch! OH MY WORD we had no idea how good the buffet would be. I LOVE breakfast food and I nearly died of happiness. The best, lightest waffles we’ve ever had, topped with berry compotes and solid whipped cream. Delicious pastries. Cheesy scrambled egg and fluffy biscuits (savory scones). Scrummy sausages for my boys. Granola and thick greek yoghurt. Honestly, I’m almost dying just writing this. It was amazing and totally worth the spend.
Our plan for the day was to hike en route to Bend at Smith Rock, a hike I’ve wanted to do for ages. But by the time we got close, it was already in the 90s and we decided to switch the hike to the next day. Good decision. Instead we drove into Bend, checked into our adorable tiny cabin and borrowed our hostess’s floaties. The Deschutes River flows through Bend and floating down the river on inflatables is a Thing. You start at Riverbend Park, float about 1 1/2 hours down the river and finish at Drake Park. There’s even a shuttle bus to drive you and your inflatable back up to Riverbend Park so you can do it again. The Husband opted to take some time to himself so the Dude and I clambered on our floaties and drifted down the river. It was very cool, but surprisingly hard work when you’re clinging on to your only child with one hand and trying to paddle with your other!! Everyone else on the river was young and beautiful. Seriously. No old, chubby people on the Deschutes – or even #inbend generally!! We floated past the most gorgeous houses and met the Husband at Drake Park a little chilly but super chilled.
Saturday saw the best hike of our trip – Smith Rock, a state park about half an hour north of #inbend. You’re in the desert now and the flat terrain is suddenly broken by dramatic rock formations. We started hiking at about 9am and could have done with starting 30 minutes earlier, but whatever.
We hiked down a steep slope, crossed the river and started up Misery Ridge trail. It’s well named – the climb is steep and relentless, with hairpin bends/switchbacks, staircases and some very steep gradients. Our Dude alternated between attacking the climb like a champ and moaning like a dying swan. We were literally in awe at the few runners we saw tackling the climb at speed. I found the hike hard, but the views were incredible all the way up.
Eventually we got to the top and were rewarded by the sight of Monkey Face, a giant rock formation. It was pretty spectacular with the Cascade Mountains in the background.
Having descended back down to the river (inelegantly) we had a few miles of easy hiking along the river, which was delicious. At some point, a runner passed us and a few minutes later we found him screeched to a halt, hands out to stop us. He’d nearly stepped on a rattlesnake warming itself across the trail. We all waited for it to slowly sllllooooowwwwllllyyyy slither back into the grass before passing with some trepidation. The rest of the hike wasn’t as eventful but we got back to the car feeling super-chuffed with ourselves.
Lunch was ice-cream at Bontà in downtown Bend. Clearly this is not a healthy lunch but we felt we had all deserved it and it was excellent ice-cream.
In the afternoon, when it was cooler, the Dude and the Husband did the river float and I had some time to myself. I scooted round two local running stores and REI in search of the Clifton 3s in green…but every single running store only has them in blue. Most frustrating. I picked the boys up at Drake Park to find them BUZZING with adrenaline….they’d gone down the ‘whitewater’ section of the river which we’d hiked round the day before. Not the actual whitewater section but a section which was slightly whiter than the rest of the river. As far as the Dude was concerned, he was basically ready for the Kayaking Olympics now.
Dinner was in the Old Mill District watching the sunset. It had been a brilliant day.
Sunday started with my long run as I’m trying very hard to train for Healdsburg whilst on this trip. Running on holiday is easy. Training on holiday is harder. I left the cabin at 7am and it was pretty ‘cool’ (I could have used gloves). I ran upstream along the Deschutes to the famous Deschutes River Trail. The paved trail petered out and became an actual trail. There were some hikers out but it was pretty empty and I felt a little eerie. Just as I was about to turn back, I came to South Canyon Bridge and saw two ladies chatting on the bridge. As I passed them, I asked if they felt safe hiking here and their emphatic ‘yes’ made me feel so much safer.
My plan called for 10 miles with the last quarter at goal pace, which is roughly 8.30. I wanted to do 8.25. At M7.5, I ramped it up and ran harder only to really struggle with the increased speed. It was SO hard. I nearly gave up so many times but fought through the faster miles. They were super-slow (averaging 9.15) and I was so disappointed but Bend is at 3,200 ft so maybe it was altitude? Maybe it was NOT eating breakfast before a long run? I don’t know. I was disheartened.
We very sadly said goodbye to our time #inbend and drove a few hours south to Crater Lake National Park, which had also been on our To Do list for a long time. The moment when we walked up the path and peered out over the edge of the crater to see the lake was one of the most spectacular moments of my life. I’d seen photos of the place but none did it justice. Perfect!!
We’d planned to drive down the shorter West Rim Road to the village and then hike Garfield Peak but that road was closed and we had to do the much longer drive round. As a result we only did two much shorter hikes, but we saw a lot of the lake so we didn’t feel cheated.
Sun Notch trail was about half a mile long and rewarded us with beautiful views of Phantom Ship Rock.
Castle Creek Trail was a total delight. Also half a mile long and super-easy it wound through a meadow and was filled with wild flowers. It was gorgeous.
We checked out the gift shop (expensive, rubbish), got some food and then drove the half hour to our accommodation that night. It had been an amazing day.
On Monday we drove a few hours to Ashland, a cool little town just 15 miles north of the California/Oregon border. The drive was beautiful and Ashland was lovely. I casually steered the boys past Rogue Valley Runners, the local running shop owned by Hal Koerner, the famous trail runner. He was there (looking handsome, I have to say). They also didn’t have green Cliftons, so I bought some body glide instead.
Our hike that day was in Lithia Park, the pretty, green downtown park. There’s a lovely hike along the river to a reservoir where you can usually swim…but dodgy algae has invaded so we couldn’t even paddle/wade.
That night, we had dinner at Caldera Brewery. Oregon is famous for its craft beers but I don’t like beer and the Husband doesn’t drink much at all. As a farewell to Oregon we both had beer – the Husband liked his Vanilla Wheat, I didn’t hate my Ginger Beer (which is a compliment). The beer & cheese soup however was amazing.
The next day, we sadly drove south into California. We had loved Oregon. It’s a total cliché to say you love Oregon but we did. We all said we wished we lived there. It’s so beautiful, it’s so outdoorsy and the people are so incredibly friendly in this lovely laid-back, cool, effortless way.
Oregon, thank you for having us, we had a wonderful time.
But Norther California awaited us!