Visit Bend Blog

Loving the winter landscape, thanks to Wanderlust Tours

December 15th, 2010

I’ve not much of a skier. The idea of whooshing down the slopes at high speeds is as appealing to me as removing the skin from my forearm with a carrot peeler.

I do, however, like snowshoeing. I like it even better when someone else handles the driving, the gear, and the decisions about where to go and what to see.

Jeff Gartzke, one of the naturalist guides for Wanderlust Tours, talks to our snowshoe group about lichen.

Throw in a thermos of cocoa and you’ve just described my perfect outing.

I was lucky enough to enjoy such an outing when Wanderlust Tours took me snowshoeing recently. The company offers a variety of custom snowshoe adventures ranging from a Moonlight and Starlight snowshoe tour to the microbrew-themed Shoes, Brews, and Views to the Bonfire on the Snow to just a plain old snowshoe outing.

It was the latter I got to enjoy, though I’d hardly call the experience “plain.” Our guide was Jeff Gartzke, one of several professional naturalists employed by Wanderlust to lead all their outdoor tours.

Once he got us suited up and offered some pointers on snowshoeing, we headed off into the Deschutes National forest next to Mt. Bachlor. I was impressed with Jeff’s ability to gauge the group’s fitness and areas of interest right off the bat. Where families or adventurous twenty-somethings might have been more keen on playing games and leaping off lava flows into deep powder, Jeff knew our group of mature (snicker) women would be more interested in a slow, scenic hike peppered with interesting nature trivia.

OK, we liked watching Jeff jump off the lava flow. We just weren’t up for it ourselves.

Jeff shows us how to leap off a lava outcropping into a giant pool of powder snow.

He talked with us about trees and lichen, and how weather impacts snow layers. He gave us tips for tackling the different types of terrain. He even capped it off by giving us extra marshmallows in our cocoa.

Based on this adventure, I’ll definitively recommend any of the Wanderlust snowshoe tours to my visiting loved ones. Because everything’s customized, it would be as enjoyable for my baby-boomer parents as it would for my cousin and his young kids.

You can learn details about the tours on their website and get specifics on the schedule by checking them out on Facebook. Book early before holiday crowds nab all the spots.

Just save some marshmallows for me. I’m coming back for more.


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