It’s hard to imagine that we’ve only been involved in this whole “LOGE” thing for the past two years. With so much going on, we often joke that we’ve entered some sort of time vortex, which we collectively refer to as “LOGE time” where a few weeks may as well be a few months and two years seems like five. It’s been an incredible journey so far, all of which we owe to the support of our amazing employees and community.
As we look ahead at bringing on new properties in Breckenridge, CO and Mt. Shasta, CA this summer, it’s important to also look back at our scrappy beginnings, which I recently did while sitting down to interview my good friend and ski buddy - our founder and CEO Johannes Ariens, to chat about the creation of our original location, LOGE Westport, and how our community has made this all possible.
“We’d been cold water surfing out in Westport for about 15 years, and saw a lot of people going out there and having a good time, but aching for a sense of community. Without that, they weren’t really engaged in the place or connected to the culture.” - JA
People would come out to Westport for the day to surf and head home, only ever seeing the parking lot of the beach. We loved the place and felt like it was our duty to create something more, a place where people could share stories, sit around the campfire, hang out with each other, and have a good time. So we started a Kickstarter. I remember Johann telling me that he had found an old beat up hotel, and that we were going to renovate it...create a place where all were welcome, and that had options for everyone in the form of Camping, a Hostel, and also nice Hotel rooms. Outdoor spaces to grill at and a stage for live music. Surf rentals. A wetsuit drying room. We would give to the Surfrider Foundation to support clean oceans and foster responsible outdoor use through giving. All the things we could dream up to create a spot that our friends would love to hang out at.
We made a video for Kickstarter, and after raising $30,000 were off and running. Of course, 30k wasn’t nearly enough to create our dream adventure outpost, so we got scrappy and reached out to the people of Kickstarter that had originally supported us to help out.
“I think some of the greatest stories were really how we did it. With the Kickstarter, we would tell people, “Hey, we’re working at the property this weekend, if anyone wants to come down and help us, we’ll have a BBQ and supply all the food,” and we’d kick this out to our whole supporter group, and by some miracle, they’d SHOW UP. They saw it as a way to get involved and give back to that community, and really support a different way of looking at lodging and how you build a community around that, with a passion for that shared sport (surfing), that everyone goes out there for. So for them, it was a way to get involved and support what we were up to.”
THE ORIGINAL KICKSTARTER VIDEO :)
“We weren’t hotel developers, we were surfers and skiers that had fortunately built some stuff in our past so at least we had an idea for it. Some of the coolest times were those weekends that the whole group of Kickstarter folks would come out and just TEAR into the cafe, which was a garden shed that was falling over before we got to it. We had to jack it up a foot and a half and put 16 footings underneath it to make it stable (laughter).”
“It was the idea that, “holy crap, you guys are in wayyy over your heads...are you sure? This place is really gnarly... we’re going to help you because we believe in what you’re working on.” - JA
And so, through the power of teamwork, LOGE Westport opened on Memorial Day of 2017. I remember the conversations: “If people are into this and start coming to hang out, maybe in three years we’ll open another LOGE.” But that Summer, to our surprise our little concept really took off. We hosted bands at our stage on Saturday nights, and people actually came! Better yet, they seemed genuinely interested in meeting and hanging out with each other. Our dream of a community was materializing in front of our eyes.
Soon, at the end of Summer or maybe early Fall, another call from Johann - “Guys, I found another property, it’s amazing. We’re going to Leavenworth.” And then a few months later “Guys, I just spent the past three days harassing the owner of an incredible forest hideout in Bend, it’s perfect, the mountain bike trails literally start at the property!” As they say, the rest is history (but I assure you that a tremendous amount of hard work has filled the space between then and now!)
“As we continue to scale and find more places, the baseline premise around that philosophy hasn’t changed a lot, we continue to find really cool people that support what we’re doing, and believe that the impacts we can have within the communities we enter, the giving to outdoor-centric foundations, and also in creating a sustainable business, make a lot of sense.” - JA
So here we are, two years into this crazy adventure, announcing the opening of LOGE Breckenridge and LOGE Mt. Shasta! It sure does feel surreal. Our dream now is to create a ring of properties that are welcoming and inclusive, ready to be the jumping off point for all your outdoor missions, with Apres vibes at the end of the day to hang with awesome folks and good music! We believe wholeheartedly in our mission - that getting people outdoors creates engaged users that will fight for the wild places, and back that up by donating 2% of revenue to non-profits that foster responsible use such as avalanche forecasting centers, trail building associations, and environmental organizations.
The new locations will have everything that you’ve come to know and love from LOGE Camps
Cafe & bar
On-site gear demo and rental centers
Live music with bands performing every Saturday night and outdoor movies every Friday
Covered outdoor hangout spaces, complete with Traeger Grills
Awesome renovated hotel rooms and Hostels
LOGE Mt. Shasta will have covered camping
Incredible locations with access to every type of outdoor recreation you can imagine
We’re beyond fired up about LOGE Breckenridge and LOGE Mt. Shasta, and can’t wait for you to join our journey and come stay with us! Renovation at both locations is well underway, and the grand opening for both will be opening THIS MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND 5/25/19!
We’re now accepting Bookings (stays 5/24/19 on) for this Summer, so come hang out and see what we’re up to!
GROUPS + CORPORATE RETREATS:
When it comes to group retreats, take the road less traveled! LOGE is the perfect outpost for company retreats, employee incentive trips, photoshoots, product testing, gear demos, athlete retreats...we could keep going, but you get it. Our group space at LOGE Breckenridge, CO has meeting space for 48, and at LOGE Mt. Shasta we have meeting space for 25!
LOGE is coming to Breckenridge, Colorado, bringing hotel rooms and hostel bunks to Breckenridge, with all the LOGE touches you know and love.
Are you stoked on LOGE and want to become one of our ambassadors? Join us in spreading the love :)
SO WHAT EXACTLY IS THE LOGE SQUAD?
LOGE is all about creating an inclusive community that is an open invitation to connect with others In Real Life! Adding “friends” online is ok, but it’s WAY better out in the real world! From the beginning, LOGE has been all about creating a community that brings all types of people together to fuel each other’s fires, which is why we’re creating LOGE Squad - as a way to give back to and strengthen our ever growing community. Our mission is to foster responsible use and access to the outdoors, and we’re looking for people who share our passion and love getting others excited about getting out there and getting after it. You don’t have to be hardcore, you just have to be psyched! We encourage everyone to apply, this isn’t about “followers,” it’s about passion.
By joining the LOGE Squad, you’ll get a 15% discount for all of 2019, and be invited to exclusive Squad events that we have planned for 2019! We’re all about sharing the stoke and fiercely pursuing the things that get your blood pumping and put a huge smile on your face, so to apply we’re asking that you submit a few photos and a short written piece about what our namesake mantra “Live Outside, Go Explore” means to you! We can’t wait to see how you interpret this - feel free to write about a favorite trip you’ve been on, hilarious experiences, stories about times that didn’t quite go as planned, or just how you get after it in your daily life! We always say “Stoke builds Stoke” and are excited to share some of your stories and pictures!
HOW TO APPLY
To apply, simply fill out the form (link below!) with a few of your best adventure photos (5-10 recommended, but really as many as you want!), and a short story about how you Live Outside, Go Explore! Upon receiving your application, we’ll send your Squad discount code, and keep you up to date on any LOGE Squad happenings!
We can’t wait to hear your stories! See ya out there!
This past weekend a few friends and I headed out to ski one of the classic lines at Snoqualmie Pass - the Slot Couloir off the north side of Mt. Snoqualmie.
There are a few things that have to line up to get me really psyched to ski bigger objectives. The first is that the NWAC avalanche forecast has to look good, and the second is that weather has to be lining up to not blindside us with any surprises. My favorite weather website for skiing in Washington is by far Winter Science, since you can look at compiled radar data for everything from precip, snow levels, elevation specific wind and cloud patterns, etc.
It’s worth noting here, that one of the things that I love most about working for LOGE is our giving program to local non-profits that support responsible outdoor use, including NWAC, among others. We believe that helping people access the outdoors creates more people that will fight to protect the wild places, and therefore give 2% of revenue to non-profits that support responsible outdoor use. I have read the NWAC forecast daily for years, taken avalanche education courses from NWAC professional observers, and benefitted from their efforts basically every day I’m out skiing, so I get fired up that LOGE is able to support them in the way we do!
On this particular morning, we had a few gear issues low in the misty old growth forest, but after sorting them out settled into a nice chill pace that took us out of the valley fog and onto the upper slopes of Mt. Snoqualmie.
The NWAC forecast was at Moderate, citing recent storm pockets at upper elevations that were in the process of strengthening, so we figured since we were only a few hundred feet of elevation from the entrance of our couloir, this was a good spot to dig a quick pit and check out what was going on with the snowpack! I tend to like to dig pits often, and in a few minutes we had a nice pit and did a few quick tests - layer hardness, compression test, and extended column test, which all showed a favorable snowpack for safe skiing! Onward to the entrance of the Slot!
Our friends, who had a group of 5, happened to pass our group of 3 while we were digging our pit, which made for a pretty fun transition at the entrance! 8 is a pretty large group for this type of line, however we had 3 radios among us, so we decided that we would send Jackson first with a radio to let us know how it skied, and then I would take a radio and ski halfway down to a safe spot to take pictures and let the others at the top know when the last person was clear and it was safe to drop. Jackson dropped in a made smooth controlled turns till he crested over the dogleg and ripped all the way to the bottom of the 1000ish foot line. We heard him come on the radio “it’s a little icy in places, and is sluffing quite a bit so be cafeful.” We all kept that in mind as we skied, being cafeful to stay out of the gut of the line where the sluff could easily carry you if you let it build up. I dropped in and skied till I found a nice safe spot left of the main line and posted up with my camera and radio. It was pretty fun watching all the friends ski, and with their varying paces to the bottom, we definitely made a good call to use the radios, as someone could have easily gone too soon and flushed the person before out the bottom.
We were stoked at the bottom and high fives were in order, but there was still work to do to climb out the exit couloir! We let our friends group of 5 take off while I backtracked to grab a quick picture of the line from the bottom.
There was quite the cornice hanging out about the exit couloir, so we did our best to stay out of its direct path and limit any time spent directly under it. Luckily it had stayed cold and we had no issues with it.
Our friends made it up and out and we soon followed, booting the final hundred feet or so.
All in all it was an awesome day in the mountains with good friends! We skied an awesome line, and had a blast along the way.
Words, Pictures, and Video: @garretvs
You don’t need to wait for perfect weather to explore by bike. After all, isn’t that part of the adventure? Join us on an epic ride from Seattle to Bend by bike!
They say that it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. But I’m a sucker for destinations. Sure the journey is where the fun's at, but without a destination in mind, are you kinda just wandering around getting lost? Even in little things I like to have a bit of a destination. When I have to drop something off at Fedex, or pick up more coffee, I like to save these errands for a bike ride or a run just so my activity has a little destination I’m aiming for along the way.
So when I heard about the plan to bike tour from Portland to Bend, finishing at Loge, I was all ears. A journey AND a rad destination? Count me in. A few emails later and we had a plan. Tyler and I would take the train to Portland, meet up with Gritchelle, and embark on our 200 miles along the Oregon Scenic Byway.
With the help of some Raleigh bikes and some Swift Industries bags to carry our stuff, we were ready for 3 days of riding and camping. The first 70 miles went quickly as we moved out of Portland and into the mountains and forests of central Oregon. With as many snack and picture stops as we enjoyed, before we knew it the sun had set and we were rolling into camp in the pitch black.
We gobbled our camp chili and hop sodas around the fire while Tyler tried to determine if his 6’4” frame would fit underneath the minimalist tarp he brought. (They don’t call him Talltyler for nothing!)
The next day brought another 70 miles of beautiful Oregon tarmac punctuated by several gravel climbs and descents. Our spirits were only slightly hampered by the rain storm that followed us all day, ensuring that we were thoroughly soaked after a couple hours. The upside however, is how alive the rain made the forest. The greens and yellows of the trees felt even more vibrant, the rivers even more majestic, and the salamanders even more… uh salamander-y.
Setting up a campsite in the pouring rain is never really something you look forward to, but I honestly think that second night was the most fun I’ve ever had camping in a storm. We set up a tarp and warmed up with camp ramen while looking up K-pop dance tutorials on youtube.
Pretty quickly, the next day, the terrain started resembling the arid high desert that Bend is known for. The gravel roads and dirt trails as we got closer spiked our energy levels once again. Gritchelle led the way through the flowey singletrack that led directly to Loge’s front door.
There we were met by the manager on duty with a warm smile and cold beers. Man this place is sweet! A hot tub, hammocks, and an entire fleet of mountain bikes had us asking if we really had to go home tomorrow. As far as destinations go, this might be one of the best! And if you ask me, it’s proof that sometimes it’s about the journey AND the destination.
When Josh Dirksen, founder of the Dirksen Derby reached out to LOGE about getting involved in the legendary Mt. Bachelor banked slalom, we were instantly in! We've known about the Derby forever and love its mission to bring the international Snowboard and Sit-Ski communities together for an incredibly fun and memorable weekend full of strong friendships, intense competition and fond memories!
We are also 100% on board with their giving program - "to use our proceeds to benefit selected local and national Non-Profits, as well as supporting our long-time friend and inspiration, Tyler Eklund." This year's non-profit organizations were Oregon Adaptive Sports, Protect Our Winters, and Tyler Eklund as well as being a proud member of 1% for the Planet.
Josh needed a venue to host the Protect Our Winters party on Saturday night, and our LOGE Bend location was the perfect fit - close to Bachelor, with plenty of space for everyone to hang out, wax boards, repair worn-wear with Patagonia, jam out to tunes, eat delicious food, enjoy a few beverages, and generally have an awesome time! Aka pretty much everything we're into as well! Did we just become best friends?!
This year's Derby went off without a hitch, with qualifying going down on Saturday, the POW party at LOGE on Saturday night, and Finals on Sunday. The LOGE crew arrived to Bachelor on Saturday to "two inches" of fresh, cold, snow which rode more like 5 or 6" in places due to the wind drift! After a few hoot and holler runs filled runs, we made our way over to the course, which was a beautiful, winding, hand dug course featuring two different side by side tracks. After a few delicious cups of Parrilla chowder, and a Dr. Brew Kombucha we walked the course top to bottom and took in every bank as competitors carved their way down the course.
Whenever a particularly fast person would come by everyone would get excited and the hoots would get louder, but it was awesome to see the level of encouragement from the crowd even when someone's run wasn't going so well. I remember seeing a boy in the 10-14 category catch an edge on a turn and fall, and everyone around him started telling him "you got this," "get up and finish strong buddy," and "don't worry about it, you're still the man!!" It's really cool to see such a strong community come together at events like this and reminds you of how the outdoors is really about so much more than just the physical sports we all love so much.
We left the hill early to help our fellow LOGE team set up for the POW party. As we arrived, we saw our friends at evo who had come out in full force and brought a few of their master technicians, who were putting up waxing tables to get everyone's boards ready for finals the next day!
Chef Rudy of Curbside Bistro was getting delicious food ready, and Patagonia was on hand as well with their Worn-Wear repairs. It was obvious this would shape up to be an awesome evening! As everyone started to arrive, Alex Winters played to those gathered around the firepits, as a line started building at the Worn-Wear table. Patagonia had brought damaged returns that they were letting people repair and take home, for a small donation to Protect Our Winters! It was a huge hit, and judging by the number of conversations, no one seemed bothered as the line grew.
I wandered outside and observed a game of corn hole after grabbing a brew and donating to POW. Dr. Brew had a hilarious photo wall set up complete with a squirrel head costume and it was pretty entertaining seeing groups just fully getting after it!
Shady GroOove jammed out with their legendary funky, head bobbing tunes, and the night wrapped up with a giveaway featuring a snowboard, a bunch of swag, and a stay at LOGE. I went to bed happy and looking forward to Finals the next day!
We rolled into the parking lot the next morning to slightly different, but very Northwest conditions - limited visibility with a "wintery mix" falling from the sky. Not rain...but close. No matter though since this would make the course super fast for finals! We went straight to the course and weren't disappointed since it seemed like everyone we watched go down the course was blazing fast!
After a few hours of watching, we decided to call it, and headed out since we had a relatively long drive back to Washington. The drive home up Hwy 97 through the rolling grasslands of Oregon and the hills of Eastern Washington is a beautiful one. It's always bittersweet having to head home after a fun filled weekend, but we fell asleep on Sunday content - our minds full from all the awesome people we met, pow we rode, and good times we had.
THANK YOU so much to everyone involved, but especially the Dirksens for asking us to be part of this incredible event. We're already looking forward to next year!!
Video, Pictures, and Words by @garretvs
Sometimes you just have to say yes to adventure and figure out the details later. Kindred is the story of how one single leap-of-faith led Izzy and Zoya Lynch’s city-based family on the unlikely journey of becoming backcountry lodge owners, and resulted in a lifetime of learning and adventure in one of the most beautiful settings on earth.
Through archival photos and interviews from the Lynch family, combined with stunning imagery of Amiskwi Lodge in the Canadian Rockies, this film inspires viewers to consider their own leaps-of-faith and how they may have defined their lives.
***WATCH THE 360 COMPANION PIECE here: vimeo.com/295729145***
A LYNCH SISTERS FILM
Supported by: Storyhive, Arc'teryx Equipment, Atomic Skis, Amiskwi Lodge
Garret Van Swearingen
Sound Design & Mix:
Scotty Beam & Cleod9 Music
Blair Richmond & Imperial Post
David Tomiak & Silver Lining Post
Announcing our new partnership with Artist Home, to continue to bring incredible musical performances to all LOGE locations! LOGE is dedicated to providing high-quality events for our guests and local communities to enjoy, and through this partnership with Artist Home we can continue to curate awesome musical talent across all of our locations. By staying with us, our guests know they will get to see incredible live performances, support artists and musicians, and contribute to the progression of artist's careers via increased exposure. We hope to become known as a reliable, interconnected, boutique music venue, who can provide opportunities for up and coming musical talent to tour comfortably across all LOGE locations!
Artist Home is a company of culture makers, community builders, and event producers who have served the Pacific Northwest for 11 years. Since its inception, Artist Home has become a prominent part of the Northwest music community by creating one-of-a-kind festival experiences, such as the Timber Outdoor Music Festival and Doe Bay Fest, and served as a loyal and positive platform of support for artists.
Our partnership brings together the deep relationship Artist Home has with a wide network of talented artists and our ability to provide artist's reliable & consistent venues and an avenue to expand their footprint. In any LOGE location our guests are traveling from far away places, and will definitely be able to go home and tell their friends about a new band they discovered while at LOGE! We're looking forward to an incredible and music filled 2019 with Artist Home!!
We heat our home with wood all winter, but this year we're late to gather for the season. We should have been doing this when the burn ban lifted back in September and you could first run a chainsaw again to gather and buck deadfall (in firewood terms, bucking means to saw the fallen trees into rounds). Nevertheless, here we now - late October, in a fresh dusting of snow, with more sloppy Cascade slush falling from the skies. For the past few years a friend of ours has helped clear a plot of land outside Roslyn in an effort to Fire-Wise the area. Fire precaution measures like removing deadfall, falling slag (aka standing dead trees), and clearing brush can make a huge difference if the area is ever under a burn.
Today, we're here to help our friend and also gathering as much wood as possible to heat our wood burning home all winter. We pound coffee at the house and then drive over to meet at the Hyak parking lot at 7am. A half hour on the highway and 20 minutes on dirt roads, and we've arrived at the property. It's 2 acres and sits on top of a mellow rolling hill. The owner has installed a simple container home that he uses as a getaway from the city life. We take a quick walk with Bill (the owner) and he shows us sections of the property that he'd like cleaned up. We fire up the chainsaws and get to work!
In total, there are 5 us helping. Lucky for us, someone was smart enough to rent a splitter and we've got a whole assembly line going - two guys on the saws cutting rounds with the two ladies and Tom getting after it on the splitter. You can tell that everyone is really getting into it, trying to be as efficient as possible. As the wood piles up so does our energy. We're in the zone, and everyone is cracking jokes, chucking firewood from the drop zone by spitter to piles that we'll come back to stack into the trucks.
It’s really striking me just how awesome of a team building exercise this is! Everyone has their job and is crushing it! Greg, teaches me how to fall a tree with the chainsaw. I'm stoked, but my arms are starting to get sore from 3 hours on the saw.
Tom and I switch up jobs and I run the splitter as he takes a turn on the saw. The ladies have taken a load back home with one of the trucks, and have promised to return with pizza. It's been two hours now since they left - I hope they can find their way through the labyrinth of dirt roads to get back here!
The pizza arrives, and we've only got a few more rounds to split before loading everything into the trucks and our single trailer (a huge help on firewood day if you have one!). They brought beer! Yes! When you're moving all day, food tastes especially delicious and this may have been the best pizza and beer I've ever had.
An hour and half later and we've got everything loaded. We cruise back home and before splitting ways everyone makes a plan to get after it again tomorrow. I'm gonna be sore come Monday!
With more chainsaws and more trucks to fill, our pace in the morning feels blistering. Just like the day before, everyone is into it, and with conversation ranging from optimal wood stove techniques to ski quiver choices, the day flies by. I make it home with another full load of wood, and Kirsten has already stacked almost all the wood from yesterday!
Come Sunday night I'm ready for bed, and as I dose off I can't help but think how much fun it is to work hard with your friends. Soon we'll all be shredding pow, and each warm fire we come back to will be a reminder of this weekend in Fall - the frenzied pace, the laughs, the pizza and beer, and the friends new and old!
Pictures and words by @garretvs
For the past 17 years, Westport Washington has hosted the Northwest’s premiere surf competition, the Clean Water Classic. Participants ranging from California to Canada show up to see what they’re made of, in a competition that exclusively supports the good work that the Surfrider Foundation is doing to keep our oceans and beaches clean and accessible!
This year’s event was a mixed bag - Qualifying on Saturday threw the competitors into stormy seas and gusty onshore conditions. Although sporadic, some sizable waves were ridden and the level of surfing impressed given the classic PNW fall gale. Around 2pm the remaining qualifying rounds were called off and it was announced that Sunday’s Finals schedule would be reworked to accommodate the heats. Drenched, everyone cleared the beach and headed for LOGE Westport for the After Party. In the hour between the event ending to pouring rain, and the festivities starting at LOGE, the clouds lifted and we were greeted with a beautiful sunny evening.
Yodelin Broth and Hamma Hamma Oysters were setup and ready for the crowd with delicious (warm!) soup and mouth watering bacon wrapped oysters. Like all vendors supporting the event, Yodelin and Hamma Hamma donated their services to support Surfrider, with the recommended $5 donation going completely to Surfrider.
It’s worth mentioning here that the Surfrider Foundation recently had a major victory in preventing offshore drilling directly off Washington’s coast and their efforts resulted in a new WA state coastal management plan. Drilling would not only have threatened the fragile aquatic ecosystem but also the economic livelihood of the current coastal economy…so your $5 dinner donation is going to good things!! A raffle with LibTech surfboards as the top prizes also went directly to Surfrider - it’s awesome to be involved in events that we know will help push the needle towards protecting the environment in today’s current political spectrum. The crowd jammed out to Killer Workout and good times were had by all!
We woke Sunday to sunny skies and moderate temps, the perfect conditions to spend the day at the beach! The competitors all threw down on smallish, playful waves, which ended up being a worthy test of their skill! We saw impressive performances ranging from kids that must have been under 10 years old, all the way up to the Grand Master class. Surf Photography by Lost River Photography , @lost.river.photography
Shortboard Ride of the Day: Jonathan Grubbs
Longboard Ride of the Day: Don Shaffer
1 Peter Hamilton
2 Jonathan Grubbs
3 Ben Murphy Master's
1 Greg Urata
2 Joe Pettinger
3 Peter Hamilton
Women's Pro/AM Shortboard
1 Ashley Fagerstedt
2 Jasmine Porter
3 Gillian Montgomery
1 Hayden Baggs
2 David Schiaffino
3 Deklyn Wood
1 Khalil Holmes
2 Andrew Haines
3 Tim Stanford
Grand Master's Longboard
1 Jan Kordel
2 Gary Gregg
3 Ben Cockcroft
1 Ann MacDonnell
2 Melissa Davis
3 Lydia Ricard
Juniors 14 and Under
1 Jasmine Porter
2 Shea Bruhwiler
3 Aqua Bruhwiler
Juniors 15 to 17
1 Jasmine Porter
2 Serena Porter
3 Gabe Roth
1 Paul Boskers
2 Dan Tarnow
3 Ben Cockcroft
Keiki With Parent
1 Finnegan Losee
2 Wyatt Hoffman
3 Teo Stencile
Thanks to everyone for a fantastic event! This is one of our absolute favorites! See you guys next year!
Every Fall, we have a tradition of going on a “Larch March.” In our beautiful state of Washington, we have a very special tree, known as the Larch, which is an Evergreen tree that happens to turn yellow in the fall and drop its needles for the winter.
While these occur across the world from Northern Canada to the Himalaya, our particular version of the Larch can be found at the healthy altitude of around 6,000 ft. Essentially, right at the edge of the Alpine. As such, to actually witness this beautiful misfit of the evergreen family, a bit of a mission is usually involved. After all, it's too early to have skis on your feet, and the leisurely temps of summer are gone.
It's easy to be excited about exploring the mountains when the sun pours down and you don't even really need to carry a jacket in your backpack, but when the weather begins to turn south, the feeling of truly earning the views you’re experiencing is incredible. Starting a blustery morning at the car wondering "am I crazy to be doing this" but at the same time buzzing with the excitement of forging out into the elements is nothing short of addicting. Every turn of the trail brings new engagement, new reality. It seems like every season Kirsten and I always manage to fit our Larch March into weather windows like these.
We made quick work of the first 4 miles of trail, gaining the ridge in typical blustery Northwest weather. We figured that things would get more pleasant once we left the ridge and dropped into the valley, and sure enough the wind died down and we finally emerged into Larch paradise!
The entire basin we were traipsing through was covered in what should have been Evergreens blanketed with green needles, only the needles were a brilliant yellow. They glowed with an intensity that seemed almost neon.
We decided at this point to head for the next ridge and maybe find a spot for some lunch. The trail became somewhat hard to follow as it went steeply up a granite ridge, but as we crested over it a beautiful alpine lake emerged in front of us. We decided that it was the perfect time sit down and eat what was one of the most delicious turkey sandwiches we'd ever eaten (*as is every sandwich eaten in the mountains!). There's an intoxicating thing about the beauty of the outdoors and you can feel all your senses heighten, making those sandwhiches extra tasty! As we sat perched above the lake, Mt. Stuart (one of the crown jewels of the Cascades) emerged from behind the clouds across the valley and we took in one of those moments that feels pretty darn close to perfect.
On this particular day, from our lunch perch on the granite outcropping, there was an obvious scramble route out of the basin and up the ridge to one of the many un-famous peaks in the Cascades. All I can remember thinking as we ascended the ridge was how wild these yellow evergreen trees were that completely filled the basin. As we got higher and higher I just kept seeing more and more of the basin they filled. They went on forever, but only at this very specific altitude. It was nothing short of surreal.
As we emerged out of the valley, the wind returned and my Larch euphoria transitioned into the hyper aware state I've become so familiar with in the mountains. A few sketchy ledge crossings later, and we reached our impromptu summit objective of the day. As is tradition, a summit beer was had, and after dancing and twirling about in the wind we made for the return trip home.
I will always remember once talking to Kirsten's grandpa, a legend of German mountaineering, and him saying "On no, you never WALK down, always RUNNING! Why else would we walk to the top of these mountains?!" We're strong believers in this philosophy, and view the trail run down as the best part of the day… After all, it's as close to skiing as you're going to get when there's no snow. Skree fields become the off season equivalent of pow turns, and intense rooted sections of the trail might as well be pillow lines!
Two hours driving, a half hour for coffee, three hours headed up, an hour messing around at the top, and an hour an half flying down… put us just in time for a happy hour beer at Dru Bru.. and a bratwurst. That euphoria I was talking about earlier...I think we've found it.
Trail: Lake Ingalls but note that Larches can be found at many sub-alpine regions in the Cascades, including the apline lakes outside Leaven such as the Enchantments region. Happy Larch hunting!
Words and Pictures by @garretvs
Ross is our Assistant General Manager in Bend and is one of the most caring, lovable people you’ll ever meet! He’s lived in Bend since before it was cool, and gave us a few insider tips on the gems that this amazing spot has to provide!
Elevation - A college culinary academy with cool architecture!
Zydeco - Cajun influenced American. On the rooftop, open in summer, not a lot of folks know of it, very chic cool spot and the only outdoor rooftop experience in bend
Wild Rose - The most delicious Thai you’ll ever eat! Seriously! Downtown, fun vibes!
Ariana & 900 Wall (fine dining)
Brother Jon’s Westside (casual)
Parrilla Grill (super casual)
El Sancho (Tasty casual tacos)
Sparrow Bakery - Incredible coffee and even more incredible baked goods! Try the Sparrow Roll ;)
Thump - There are a few in town but the Northwest Crossing location is my favorite
Spoken Moto - Great outdoor space with food trucks and beer as well!
Makay Cottage... duh :)
Sparrow Bakery - Next level breakfast croissants in addition to tasty baked goods!
Worthy Brewing (Hopservatory)
10 Barrel (galveston)
Non sport activity:
Explore the Lava tubes (where else can you enter the earth? ;) )
Munch N Music (Thursdays)
Cycling - Phil’s Trails right out our doorstep!
Kayaking the upper lakes
River surfing in town!
Stand Up Paddleboarding
Deschutes River Trail behind LOGE!
Scout Lake (really warm!)
Photo provided by local Bend photographer Austin White @austingwhite