Last weekend I ventured over the mountains to Salem where cherry trees are blooming and the ground is awash in tulips and bluebells.

Here in Bend, springtime isn’t quite as flashy. Sure, we saw temperatures in the mid-sixties this week, but I’ll bet my snow shovel we’ve got at least a couple more snowstorms on the horizon before Old Man Winter throws in the towel.

Downtown Bend is brimming with oodles of little-bitty crocuses.
Downtown Bend is brimming with oodles of little-bitty crocuses.

Nevertheless, springtime in Bend is a magnificent thing if you know what to watch for. Here are six signs it’s on the way!

Bloom, little buddy, bloom!

What Bend lacks in showy blossoms it makes up for in sweet little blooms that seem to pop up in the oddest places. Wander out to the Oregon Badlands Wilderness and you’ll see hardy native wildflowers like sand lilies and larkspur miraculously thrusting themselves up through the lava rock. In Downtown Bend, sweet little crocuses make their way up through paver bricks around trees. There’s something inspiring about flowers that manage to bloom in Bend’s harsh high desert climate, and it’s fun to stroll around town looking for them.

 

Open the floodgates!

This week’s stock run on one of Bend’s irrigation canals is a sign of more water on the way for Central Oregon.

The farms and ranches surrounding Bend rely on irrigation canals to keep pastures lush and livestock watered. In warmer months, the canals are great places to hike alongside flowing water, but they only flow a few days a month in the winter to offer water for livestock. These winter stock runs give us a glimpse of what’s to come in April when the canals start flowing again and everyone flocks to the easements on the banks of the canals for an afternoon dog walk or an evening trail run.

 

 

Who’s ready for Springtacular?

Springtacular2013_WebsiteHeaderMt. Bachelor is legendary for its amazing spring skiing and one of the longest seasons in North America. That’s probably why their annual Springtacular event is so popular. The 96-hour sale on Springtacular passes kicks off at 12 p.m. on Thursday, March 13 and goes through 12 p.m. Monday, March 17. Once the sale ends, Springtacular passes are still available, but at a higher price.

Springtacular passes are valid to use starting Monday, March 31 and are valid every day Mt. Bachelor is open through the tentative planned closing date of May 25.  Besides killer skiing and snow riding, Springtacular festivities include concerts, competitions, camps, prize giveaways, and more. To learn more about Springtacular and to nab your pass, go here.

 

Break out the paddles!

Scenes from the River Rendevous event on the Deschutes River.
Scenes from the Riverhouse Rendevous Slalom event on the Deschutes River.

The instant people begin feeling confident a plunge in the Deschutes River won’t result in instantaneous frostbite, the river is awash in kayaks, canoes, and standup paddleboards. It’s a great time to try one of those activities to hone your skills before the season is in full swing. Go here for info on renting gear or scheduling a lesson.

Already fairly experienced with your paddle skills? Don’t miss the sixth annual Riverhouse Rendevous Slalom on Sunday, March 30 at 10 a.m. in the Deschutes River behind the Riverhouse Hotel & Convention Center in Bend. Throughout the day, paddlers divided by age group, type of boat, and gender, will test their skills on the quarter-mile whitewater course. Go here for more info on the event.

 

Daylight savings = more time to play outside!

While my sleep-deprived brain is still recovering from “springing forward” with daylight savings last weekend, the rest of me is giddy about what this means for evening recreation opportunities. Two months ago, 5 p.m. was a time for retreating along darkened streets and hunkering down at home. Now it’s the perfect time to hike Pilot Butte, where you’ll see oodles of post-workday locals out walking or running up this 500-foot cinder cone. If you start no later than 5:30, you’ll have plenty of time to make it up and down by the time daylight is gone. There are plenty of other places for an evening stroll in Bend, including Drake Park and Farewell Bend Park. For more ideas on places to plan an after-hours walk, go here.

Shopping in Downtown Bend.

Time for a new spring wardrobe?

The instant Bend temperatures creep into the high 50s and low 60s, you see something remarkable—skin! Women shed their leggings and tights, and people of all genders ditch the puffy coats and strip down to short sleeves. Seems like the perfect excuse to grab a few new items for your spring wardrobe, right? Stroll around Downtown Bend to hit cool boutiques and shops like CC McKenzie, Kariella, Local Joe, and The Frugal Boutique consignment shop. Then head over to the Old Mill District and browse their riverfront shops to stock up on goodies from Banana Republic, Buckle, Vanilla Urban Threads, and more. You’ll also find popular, bargain-packed shopping districts at the Bend Factory Stores and the Cascade Village Shopping Center.

Once you’ve stocked up on a few new pieces for spring, get out there and strut your stuff along Bend’s sun-drenched urban hiking trail system!

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