If you’re visiting Bend this summer, you might find yourself gazing longingly at Mt. Bachelor and counting the days ‘til you can head up for some winter recreation.
But you might be surprised to know there’s a whole lot going on at Mt. Bachelor even when the snow isn’t flying.
I learned this firsthand last weekend when I visited the mountain for a bit of summertime recreation. While there’s still plenty of snow on the ground, the activities don’t require you to have waxed boards strapped to your feet.
One great option is the Summertime Dog Sled Rides. You may already be familiar with the wintertime rides offered by four-time Iditarod musher Rachel Scdoris and her father/trainer, Jerry Scdoris. The warm-weather trip is a bit different, with a dry-land cart instead of an actual sled, but the fun-factor is still there in spades.
Before we set out, I got a chance to mingle with the dogs, pet the puppies, and chat with Rachel and her father. One thing that’s evident from the get-go is how enthusiastic everyone is about the whole process. The pups shriek and howl with eager anticipation, and while Rachel and her dad don’t do much shrieking or howling, their passion for the dogs and the sport is evident.
We sat down in the wheeled cart, Jerry gave the command, and away we went, bouncing along a winding path. At one point, Jerry stopped to let the dogs catch a breath and the photographer snap a photo, but it was clear from the canine squeals of “let’s go, let’s go!” that they wanted to get moving again. Though the ride was brief, it was well worth the $10 per person fee just for the uniqueness of the experience. It would be a great activity to add to a family vacation, birthday party, or even a classroom trip.
After the dog sled ride, we stopped at the Ski & Sport Shop to grab a couple tickets for the chairlift. Though disc golf wasn’t on our agenda that evening, we got to check out the gear for sale and read a bit about the course. Players ride the Pine Marten chair up to the first hole and work their way down the mountain to the final 18th hole. Elevation and the varied terrain add extra elements to the game. Use of the course is free, but players must provide their own equipment and buy a lift ticket ($16 for adults, $13 seniors, $10 youth 6-12 and kids 5 and under are free). Looked like a lot of fun!
Once you’ve purchased your lift ticket, you definitely won’t want to miss one of Central Oregon’s most unique dining experiences. Sunset dining at Pine Marten Lodge is offered Friday through Sunday from 5-8 p.m. Reservations are a must, and the views are absolutely stunning. Besides, how often do you get a chance to dine at 7,775 feet?
There’s a full bar and an excellent wine list. I was particularly impressed with the restaurant’s selection of Oregon Pinot Noir, and the knowledgeable restaurant manager recommended a bottle that was completely swoon-worthy and a fabulous complement to the dinner.
The smoked salmon tartare with jalepeno cream was an excellent starter, followed by a caesar salad large enough for two people (and possibly an additional small army) to split. I loved the Griswold Seared Scallops with Balsamic Syrup and Wild Oregon Mushroom Pilaf, while my dining companion (who happens to be the photographer supplying the lovely images for this blog post) enjoyed the New York Strip Steak with Sweet Corn & Tillamook Queso Mashed Potatoes and Asparagus. The breathtaking views seemed to amplify everything about the meal, and the service was particularly attentive and friendly.
We capped everything off by devouring the crème brule, some very tasty cheesecake, and some more of those delicious views.
Though the food and views are first-class, the atmosphere in the restaurant is casual. This is a good thing, as you’ll definitely want to leave the evening gown at home and opt for layers. Riding the chairlift down in the moonlight is fabulously romantic, but also cold as frozen snot on a brass rail. You’ll be glad you packed your fleece, and I know I was feeling pretty smug about having a hat and gloves.
Besides what I’ve listed here, Mt. Bachelor’s summer offerings include hiking, scenic chairlift rides, and interpretive talks from US Forest Service rangers. Check out their summertime schedule for more details, and I’ll see you on the mountain!