I arrived to a rainy morning on the mountain, not ideal for skiing, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me. I hoped that the temps would drop a few degrees and it would turn into snow. After a couple of hours, it did. By that time, I was drenched, but oh well. I usually spend my first day at a mountain exploring and finding where I’d like to ski so I can focus on those areas the following days. Mount Bachelor is somewhat unique as it offers 360º skiing from the top. Each side of the mountain can have different conditions. On the Southeast side, there’s the “Cloudchaser” lift. Lots of relatively mellow terrain with rolling slopes and fun turns. On the other side of the mountain, there is the “Northwest Express” with incredible bowls that lead into beautiful glades. And on the Northeast side of the mountain, there is the base lodge and the “Pine Marten” lift. There is also the “Summit Express” which takes you to the top but was unfortunately closed for most of my visit due to conditions and weather.
Despite that, I was having a blast. This place has amazing skiing. I’d found my favorite spot on the mountain and the next morning headed over that way. “Northwest Express” gives the most vertical rise (2,365 feet) out of all the lifts on the mountain. It also gives access to the lower west bowls and glades. While the skiing over this way was amazing, because of the weather visibility was poor towards the top. The good thing is that kept all of the crowds away. I pretty much had the lift to myself, and more fresh lines than I could imagine. The skiing over there was fantastic. Turn right off of the lift and traverse over the the west bowls. Take your pick on the line to ski, they are all amazing. The farther off the lift you traverse, the fewer tracks you’ll find. The bowls drop into the West Glades, some of the most beautiful tree skiing I’ve experienced.
Turn left off the Northwest Express lift, and you can take the “Northwest crossover” back towards the “Pine Marten lodge” before getting to the lodge turn off onto any one of the trails and get some incredible powder turns. Every single trail I skied off of there was awesome. Perhaps it was because I was lucky enough to be there when there was good snow, perhaps it’s always like this?
Thats not to say the other areas of the mountain weren’t also great, I was just having so much fun there that I didn’t want to leave.
Mount Bachelor was one of the first ski resorts I’ve visited that allow overnight camping in the lot. While I like the freedom of this whole car camping thing, finding places to sleep in your car is really annoying. There should be plenty of BLM land around ski areas that you would think is easy to find, but apparently I’m not the only one with this idea. Most ski resorts I’ve visited don’t even allow overnight parking. Some rest stops will let you stop for 8 hours so you can get rest on a long drive, but even that is a tossup. When I moved into my truck, I didn’t think that this sort of thing would be one of my biggest challenges on the trip. This idea of #vanlife that I’ve seen so much about seems to pose a significant challenge that I hadn’t foreseen. Being able to camp in the lot was a very welcome change.
While skiing at Mount Bachelor in itself is awesome, about 20 minutes down the road is Bend, Oregon. One of the coolest towns I’ve visited so far. People were so friendly, and they all clearly enjoyed spending time outside. Whether skiing, hiking, camping, fishing, mountain biking, there is something for everyone there. In addition, the restaurants, the beer, even the nightlife were all very good. While I was there I visited a few breweries, restaurants, and spent time downtown on St. Patricks Day. I loved it there, so much so that I stayed for 6 days, one of my longest stops on this trip.
The only other stop which was this long was Bozeman and Big Sky, Montana.
After my first day of skiing there, I decided to take a rest day and visit town. I went to a yoga class and spent time writing at the Thump Coffee. I was familiar with their coffee because their only other location is in Denver, Colorado. If you’re looking for the perfect environment to settle in for a few cups and write, this is it. And the coffee is absolutely delicious. I walked around town and
One of the more famous breweries in Bend is Deschutes, their Fresh Squeezed IPA is one that I’ve always enjoyed so I wanted to stop in to see what else they offered. Doesn’t matter the you preferred style, all of the options were good. I wanted something different so I opted for the “Bachelor Bitter”
The following day I went back up to the hill and skied almost all day. I was re-energized and able to log quite a few runs. It was just about first chair to last chair that day. I loved it, and there wasn’t a single spot on the mountain that didn’t have good snow. The skiing was excellent.
On the lift I met someone who was visiting from the Seattle area and was also car camping in the lot. At the time, I was still unsure of my next destination, but knew I was continuing north towards Canada. He suggested I visit some ski areas in that area as they have been having a fantastic snow year. I had the option of Crystal Mountain or the Summit at Snoqualmie. Crystal mountain was only about 6 hours away, and I’d have the chance to visit Portland along the way. I thought about it a bit, checked out the map, and decided on my next destination.
That Friday night after some skiing I went back down to Bend and visited “Bend Brewing.” While I was there, I met 2 very nice ladies who commented on the fact that I was writing at the bar. They started the conversation, “I hope you’re not working.” I thought it was funny, because I absolutely was not working, I was writing about my time in California. We got to talking about my trip, and what brought them to Bend. The both suggested that a trip or time like this is something everyone should experience at some point. I truly enjoyed meeting them, and many of the other locals as they were all very friendly and welcoming.
I was also lucky that some of my old colleagues from New York happened to be skiing at Mount Bachelor that weekend. It was nice to ski and ride with them for a few days. We had dinner at Brother Jon’s, the food there is delicious and they have tons of beers to choose from. We also spent the evening out in the town on St. Patricks Day. It was plenty busy at the bars, and not nearly the mob scene that we’d previously experienced in NYC.
Saturday morning, we were back out on the slopes. At the base there was a huge party with live music and giveaways. A pretty busy weekend, and the first time I spent a significant amount of time in a lift line. But that was only on the front of the mountain. After a few runs from the Cloudchaser lift, I ventured back over to the back side of the mountain. It had snowed on and off the whole week I was in Bend, and the conditions were still fantastic. And although it was busy at the base because of the party, it was still empty on the Northwest lift. I assume there were a few factors contributing, visibility at the top was poor, and there is only expert skiing back there.
The next morning was a bluebird beautiful day on the mountain, but by midday I was ready to get going. I wanted to be skiing the next day and I had a long drive ahead. The drive through Oregon was stunning. Not just on my way to Bend, but also from Bend to Portland. I drove through Mount Hood national forest. It was absolutely gorgeous. It was sunny, then it rained, then it snowed. All in one drive relatively short drive over the pass, so cool. I can’t wait to go back to Oregon, visit the coast, spend more than an evening in Portland, and for sure to go back to Bend.
Next stop, Crystal Mountain, Washington.