Peter Skene Ogden Scenic Viewpoint

High Bridge & Rex T. Barber Bridge

There is a historical landmark just outside of Terrebonne, OR, that isn’t extremely fun filled or large, but the 300 ft canyon housing the Crooked River is worth a look.  From the AAA 4-diamond FivePine Lodge and Shibui Spa in Sisters, OR, it is only a thirty to forty minute drive.  As you leave the parking lot, turn left onto highway 20, then an immediate right at the “Y”, and another right onto highway 126.  Follow this road to Redmond, about 18 miles East of Sisters, and continue on 126 through Redmond until you reach the parkway.  At the last light, this is a “T”, turn left and head toward Terrebonne and Smith Rock (may say Madras on the sign instead of Terrebonne).  Continue through Terrebonne, about 5 miles North of Redmond, and the viewpoint will be about ½ to 1 mile on your left.  Is well marked as Peter Skene Ogden and has a rest area.


When you enter the parking lot, the canyon is not within sight and it will appear to be just another park with restrooms and picnic tables.  If you park farther to the left, there is an informational sign on Peter Skene Ogden that gives some background on the purpose of naming this park after him.  As you wander past large trees on the pathways, concrete railings come into view and you begin to see the far wall of this large basalt canyon.  Definitely not as large or magnificent as the Grand Canyon, but the winding river that rushes below makes it quite the view.  When I look at the height of the canyon and the distance from one side to another, it is amazing to know how much work and time these bridges took to build. You also can’t help but appreciate the convenience they provide.  Could you imagine traveling miles and miles just to find a crossable area? 

Oregon Rail Trunk Bridge 2


To the left is the Oregon Trunk Rail bridge built in 1911, quite a feat for that time and it is still in use today by the railroad.  On your right, you can see the old two lane bridge, also called the Crooked River High Bridge that was opened for use in 1926 to accommodate the increased traffic to Central Oregon.  This worked for awhile, but the road was so narrow, wide loads would have traffic stopped in both directions until they finished crossing.  Some truck drivers even remember touching mirrors as they simultaneously crossed the bridge.  Increased traffic on Hwy 97 was just too much for this work of art as Central Oregon began booming in the 20th century.  Motorized vehicles are no longer allowed on the old highway, but bikers and pedestrians still cross the Crooked River on this historical path to get some great photos from both sides.

To meet the demand of Central Oregon’s increased truck traffic, The Crooked River Bridge was constructed in 2000.  Just three years later, it was changed to the Rex T. Barber Bridge in honor of the fighter pilot, a native who fought in World War II, that brought down the Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto.  There is a great informational memorial to the right of the old bridge entrance providing the history of Rex T. Barber and why he was so important.  Additionally, this stretch of road still holds and is recognized to this day as a Blue Star Memorial Highway.  This tribute to the Armed Forces is only a small portion of miles dedicated throughout the United States.  Thanks to this new bridge, highway 97 can continue to service thousands of drivers daily while the historical site can still be enjoyed by locals and tourists alike.

As you take one last look, see if the waterfall just past the Rex T. Barber Bridge is running.  Depending on the season, you could get this little extra treat and a nice picture.  It comes straight out of the canyon wall and is pretty amazing.  As I said, it is not full of entertainment or the most popular place to visit in Central Oregon, but I feel the history and view are worth the trip.  To help extend your trip, you could also choose to continue North to Maragas Winery for a taste of their local wine, they are only ½ mile or so up the road.  Or you could stop at Smith Rock, just East of Terrebonne, for other great views of Central Oregon.


Sisters Happy Girl Run

Happy Girls Half-Marathon at FivePine Lodge in Sisters

Happy Girl Race

The inaugural Happy Girl’s race, an express trail half marathon and 5K on-road run for women runners of all abilities, was held at FivePine Lodge this past November.  This event is designed to encourage interest in trail running among women. The run took women through mainly single-track dirt trails and rolling hills and forest areas outside Sisters. This is the “dirty” version of the extremely popular Happy Girls Run that is produced in the Spring in Bend.

There was a fun women’s expo at Fine Pine Lodge and Spa with goody bags, fabulous vendors with fun items to sample or purchase, massages, and a raffle that benefitted the Sisters Park & Recreation District. There was a pasta party at Three Creeks Brewery and the Sisters Stroll to explore the quaint and unique shops in downtown Sisters. It was a fabulous fall weekend in Sisters (for Sistas!!)  

I’ve always been a runner, since high school, but only in moderation and for what I call “maintenance” fitness.  I usually run anywhere from 9-15 miles a week.  Having 2 dogs that need lots of exercise and a running buddy that constantly pushes me to run with her, helps to keep the motivation high and consistent.  Last fall, my infamous running buddy, suggested we run the Happy Dirty Girls race.  She had previously run 2 half-marathons so she knew what to expect.  Me…not so much!

The training for the half-marathon was fun, intense, humbling and at times painful.  Especially the once-a-week long runs.  The first time I ran 8 miles I was exhausted and surprised at how I felt.  Having always run relatively short distances, I was inexperienced in how long runs can cause such physiological and psychological changes.  At first, it was discouraging and I wasn’t sure if I could really reach this goal of running…not ever walking…a full 13.1 miles.  But as each week progressed, the long runs got a little easier…well, maybe not easier but not as discouraging.  My strength and stamina increased and as long as I had my running buddy to share funny stories or encourage me to run only a few more minutes, I was able to keep on running.  My last training long run was in the Badlands east of Bend on a sunny, cool day, perfect for running about 12 miles, although the footing was on occasion like running on a beach, very deep sand.  I guess that helped with some strength training. 

On race day, I was nervous, excited, scared and ready to get the race over.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have my running buddy with me as she had sprained her ankle 2 weeks before the race during one of our runs on a trail…in the dark.  Training after work had its draw backs in October when it got dark by 5:30.  So the experience was solely my own, no partner to motivate, encourage, or push me.  But I met some incredible women that day that were inspiring and so helpful.  When I told my story, they basically said…”run with us, we’ll have great fun”…which is exactly what happened.  The trails and scenery were beautiful and distracting.  I found myself in awe of how easy it was to run as I’m looking at the Cascade Mountains, just appreciating the beauty of where we live.

One of the most inspiring women I saw that day was 7 months pregnant.  Can you believe it??  She and her husband are huge fans of FivePine Lodge and got married here this past summer.  We love our fans!!

I did it and it was hard, especially after mile 11, but I ran every step.  I didn’t fall or walk or stop, just kept on running.  My boyfriend, Mike, who graciously volunteered at the race, met me at the corner for the last stretch.  My running buddy met me at the finish line and ran/limped the last few yards with me and it was an extremely emotional experience for us both.  I looked around at nearly 250 other women runners, all laughing, crying, eating and yes, drinking Three Creeks beer!  It was one of the best days ever.

Happy Girl Race2

Those of us that run on trails in Central Oregon are some of the luckiest runners ever.  The natural beauty of our trails, whether along the Metolius River, the dusty trails of the Badlands, the single tracks of the Peterson Ridge Trail, or a fun run around Suttle Lake, there is no other scenery that can distract a runner better.  We live in a beautiful area, with world-class recreation year round for most any sport enthusiast. 

The best part of these activities is having them all so close to FivePine Lodge and Spa.  After a long run, there is nothing better than a relaxing and recovering massage at Shibui Spa and then a wonderful, healthy meal at Three Creeks Brewery.  If you’re lucky enough to stay at FivePine Lodge, you’ll enjoy a final soak in the amazing tubs in the quaint and luxurious cabins and a final rest in the cozy King bed gazing at the fireplace and the beautiful Ponderosa Pines just outside the window. 

So put this date on your calendar, Saturday, November 2, 2013.  The 2nd annual Happy Girl’s 5k and Half-Marathon at FivePine Lodge!!  It will be epic….


Tricia Maxson – Events Director at FivePine Lodge


Broken Top Hike: A Central Oregon Favorite


The months of August and September are the perfect time to hike the Central Oregon Mountains.  The forest roads are finally clear of snow and the weather is ideal with cool mornings and comfortable afternoons.  Broken Top Mountain is an epic hike in the Three Sisters Mountain Range that provides picturesque views of the cascades.   The hike proves to be pretty strenuous so plan on the adventure taking up a good portion of your day.  Leave early in the morning to ensure you have a place to park at the trail head as it does fill up.

To reach the trailhead from FivePine Lodge, take your first left on Buckaroo Rd and continue onto E Coyote Springs Rd.  This will turn into S Maple St and eventually E Tyee Drive.  From E Tyee Drive, turn left onto 3 Creek Lake Rd and continue 9.5 miles (about 23 minutes).  This will turn into NF-16 and you will continue 4 miles (about 11 minutes).  NF-16 will turn into NF-370.  The dirt road proves to be a bit challenging so make sure your vehicle is well equipped.  I wouldn’t suggest a small passenger vehicle driving this terrain either because it is extremely bumpy and rocky.  After about 20-25 minutes on 370 you will reach forest road 380 where you will turn left.  Follow this road for about 5 more minutes where you will end at the parking lot for the trailhead.

Once you begin, you will come to an intersection to head left or right.  The trail to the right is closed and the forest service has asked that you do not go on this, so head left and you also will see that they have placed tree limbs across the trail to deter you from taking it.  Once on the correct trail, you will come to another intersection.  Heading right will take you to the glacial filled lake, No Name.  Heading to the left you get you to Broken Top’s craters.  We choose to head to left to Broken Top’s craters which proved to be more challenging than expected.





The beginning of the trail takes you through a forested area and you’ll cross a small stream.  Late August and early September is a prime time to see beautiful wildflowers in the area too.  Once crossing the stream you will find a sign with directions for Crater Ditch, Green Lakes & Todd Lake.  Unfortunately there is no directional sign that points to Broken Top, however it is quite obvious that you will take a right.  As you continue, the trail isn’t as clearly marked, but I would recommend climbing as far as your body will allow you.  Once you reach the top, the views are phenominal.





Climbing down, proved to be a bit more challenging than anticipated because of the loose lava rocks.  I would highly recommend wearing long pants and/or gators if doing this trek.  As we descend, we found a great spot that we were able to slid down in the snow.  A must do!

As we head back to FivePine Lodge . . . legs a little tired, we find ourselves excited about awaits us in our Cabin.  Sipping a glass of wine in the comfort of the waterfall soaking tub sounds extremely enticing.  We also set up appointments at Shibui Spa for their Couples massage to cap off a great weekend!

Smith Rock Hike

Winter in Central Oregon is a wonderful time to play in the snow, whether it is snowboarding at Mt. Bachelor, hitting the slopes at Hoodoo Ski Resort for night skiing or cross country skiing at one of the many snow parks.  It is also a great time to feel the cool breeze while hiking up the somewhat strenuous Smith Rock outside of Terrebone.  During the winter and spring, this hike is perfect for those wanting to avoid the crowds and it is also a great time to bring your 4 legged friends.

Smith Rock

This hike is a local favorite for my husband and me and we try to visit a few times a year.  Typically during the winter and spring, the terrain is snow free and the ground is cool.  This allows are 2 dogs to join us as we hike up Misery Trail.  I definitely would not recommend this hike for your dogs in the summer as the ground is extremely hot and dry unless you are just going on the river trail and not going up Misery trail to the ridge.

smith-rocks-state-park-map Image courtesy of Oregon State Parks.


From the FivePine Lodge campus, take a left on Hwy 20 and then an immediate right on Hwy 126.  Continue on this for about 18 miles.  You will begin to drive through Redmond and continue until you can take a left on Hwy 97.  Hwy 97 will lead you to the small town of Terrebone where you can pick up a few snacks or stop for lunch at The Depot.  You will see several signs guiding you to the state park and you will take a right on B Ave and continue on to NW Smith Rock Way.  Once there, you will need to pay the $5 state park fee.

As you approach the massive park, you will be overwhelmed with all its natural beauty.  With a day bag packed with plenty of water, snacks and dogs in tow, we embark up misery trail.

Smith Rock2

Begin the journey down The Chute and cross the footbridge to start Misery Trail.  This trail isn’t really that miserable, difficult at times, but so worth it when you get to the top.  The trail to the top is approximately 2/3 mile and once there you will have extraordinary views of the Crooked River gorge.  Continue along the ridge and you will soon see the Monkey Face.  If you are lucky you may catch a glimpse at rock climbers climbing the face.  The spring is also an excellent time to see bald eagles soaring the skies.


The next trail junction will be the Mesa Verde Trail which you can either head right or left and this will take you down to the River trail.  We typically go to the right where you will experience some steep switch backs.  Once you get to the river, the trail becomes a leisurely stroll and is approximately 2.5 miles.  Along this trail is typically when we grab a seat along the river and have some snacks or lunch.


To complete the day, we find ourselves at FivePine Lodge for their complimentary wine & beer reception.  My husband typically enjoys the beer from Three Creeks Brewing and we relax in front of the crackling fire where we recap the day’s adventures.


Sisters, Oregon History

Long before the Sisters Country was settled, Paiute Indian wars were raging throughout eastern Oregon during the 1860s and 70s. Old survey maps showed Indian trails, some leading towards Warm Springs, some crossing the Cascade passes of McKenzie and Santiam. In time, some of these trails became wagon roads. Nineteenth century fur trappers and explorers have also traveled through the Sisters Country.

The forerunner of Sisters was Camp Polk, a short-lived military camp (from September 1865-May 1866). It was named after the Oregon county from which the camp’s commanding officer hailed and consisted of a group of cabins along the west bank of Squaw Creek , about three miles northeast of Sisters. Volunteer troops were on a mission to protect miners and settlers in the region, but were never engaged in battle and finally left. Following abandonment of the camp, the site was homesteaded in 1870 by Samuel M. Hindman who subsequently operated a store and post office. The post office at Camp Polk was moved to its present site in 1888, and the name was changed to Sisters after the Three Sisters mountains that dominate its western skyline.

Camp Polk was located adjacent to a wagon road which linked the Willamette Valley and Prineville. Taking advantage of its location at the intersection of the McKenzie and Santiam roads, Sisters soon grew to become a bustling little town. For years, Sisters was a supply station for sheepmen who passed through on their way to grazing pastures in the Cascades. Finally, in 1901, Sisters was formally established.

Contributing further to growth of Sisters was the lumber industry. Extensive tracks of pine forest prompted the siting of several sawmills in or near town. By 1930, Sisters was primarily known as a lumber-producing town and was incorporated in 1946. The population grew from less than 200 to nearly 500. Lumber production fell off, however, and in 1963 the last mill in Sisters was closed, the plant was dismantled and the population began to decline.

As highways in Central Oregon were improved, tourist-related travel increased. Sisters became known as the Gateway to the Cascades. The population stabilized as Sisters capitalized on the beauty of the area’s natural environment and the early development of Black Butte Ranch. By adopting a theme for the commercial sector and with the financial support of Brooks Resources, the Sisters City Council made the 1880’s style store front a part of its zoning ordinance in the early 1970’s. The Sisters Area Chamber of Commerce was formed in 1974.

Over several years the landscape of the retail area was transformed and today Sisters Oregon has become recognized as a unique place to shop with its many specialty stores and galleries. Less obvious are other changes. The old mill site north of town has become an industrial park with a number of commercial establishments and light industries. Many people, seeking elbow room and mountain vistas have chosen the Sisters Country as a place to live and play.

Sisters 1895

Sisters 1910
Sisters 1914

FivePine’s Cabins and Lodge rooms are named after historical Sisters figures:

Aitken– honoring Grace Cyrus-Aitken, an early Sisters Librarian who also ran the post office and a drug store.  Circa 1916.

Allen– honoring Hardy Allen, an early Sisters Businessman who owned both a hotel and blacksmith shop. Circa 1897.

Bailey– honoring Maida Rossiter-Bailey, a prominent Sisters Library Patron. The Old Library building on Spruce Street still carries her name to honor her many contributions. Circa 1918.

Buchanan– honoring E.P. Buchanan, homesteader.  He was a breeder of horses and liked the area for its fine grass. His high quality horses were purchased by the US Army, some being used in the Spanish-American War. Circa 1892.

Coe– honoring Urling C. Coe, frontier Doctor. The first licensed Doctor in the Bend area. Circa 1905.

Cobb– honoring Alfred Cobb, homesteader.  Alfred ran a blacksmith shop, offering wagon repair and horseshoeing to travelers. Circa 1885.

Dennis– honoring John W. Dennis who built the Sisters Hotel and also owned a blacksmith shop and livery barn. Circa 1912.

Eyerly- honoring Ray Eyerly, landscape artist. He sketched and painted area views with the exactness of a photographic lens. Circa 1962.

Ford- honoring R.A. Ford, establisher of the name “Cloverdale”.  After naming the Cloverdale ditch, the name began to stick and was formerly adopted in 1909. Ford was also superintendent of Crook County Schools. (Sisters was a part of Crook County at the time.)

Graham- honoring Ebenezer Graham, homesteader. Making his way from California, Graham filed a claim on land that is now the south section of Black Butte Ranch Resort. He built a home and a six bedroom traveler’s inn. Circa 1880.

Harrington- honoring E.M. “Mel” Harrington, early road builder. Once a scout for Custer, he moved his family to Sisters buying 240 acres of the Claypool Ranch, raising hay, alfalfa and oats. Later he partnered with a neighbor to build roads with the appearance of automobiles. Circa 1921.

Hitchcock- honoring Cecil Glenn “C.G.” Hitchcock, mill owner.  He owned a sawmill in La Pine and later rebuilt the mill in Sisters. The mill was sold several times ending up with Brooks Scanlon. Circa 1929.

Huntington- honoring Perit Huntington, homesteader/writer. A descendant of a signer of the Declaration of Independence, he was a delegate to the first Republican convention in Oregon. He wrote funny newspaper articles about living and farming in Sisters. Circa 1913.

Leithauser- honoring Peter J. and Frank Leithauser, father and son, Sisters and Camp Sherman Store Owners. The Leithauser store was a major part of Sisters until 1977. Circa 1924.

McKay- honoring Thomas McKay, explorer. Having been given a charter by territorial legislature, McKay led a team of men looking for suitable wagon routes for crossing the Cascades Mountains. Circa 1845.

McKenzie– honoring Donald McKenzie, explorer. He was a member of John Jacob Astor’s Pacific Fur Company and explored the Willamette valley. The McKenzie River and McKenzie Pass were named after him. Circa 1859.

Ogden- honoring Peter Skene Ogden, explorer. Once a young clerk for John Jacob Astor’s Pacific Fur Company, he later became a fur trapper. He was married twice to native American women. He also wrote a short book “Trails of American Indian Life and Character”. Circa 1820’s.

Shaw- honoring Frank L. Shaw who started the Sisters Fair. Shaw became the promoter of the Fair with the fairgrounds located on one corner of his farm land. The first fair was held in 1914 and ran for 3 days. Participants came from all over the country. Circa 1912.

Sorensen- honoring Christian N. Sorensen, owner of the first gas station in Sisters and homesteader. Noticing that more and more cars were coming to Sisters, he opened the first gas station on the southwest corner of Fir and Cascade Streets. Circa 1924.

Sparks- honoring Elijah H. “Lige” Sparks, first homesteader in Long Hollow Canyon. Sparks was a corporate member of the Black Butte Land and Livestock Company. He grazed cattle around the high mountain lake that now carries his name. Circa 1900.

Wilt- honoring John Wilt, homesteader. On a family wagon train from Kansas, John and his family rested on the Snake River and looked for gold. Heading on to Oregon, they reached Whychus Creek. Snow on the passes was too deep for travel so he and his brother built cabins and barns and became early homesteaders just a mile west of Sisters. Circa 1885.

Wilson- honoring Tillie Wilson, teacher and author. Graduating from high school with a teaching credential, Tillie moved to Sisters and married. After having children she took a teaching sabbatical but returned from 1923 to 1961. She was actively involved with the growth and civilizing of the rough logging/farming community. She later co-wrote a history of the area, “That was Yesterday.” Circa 1917.

Wyeth- honoring Nathaniel J. Wyeth, explorer. Leaving the Columbia River basin and following the Deschutes River south, Wyeth journaled of the steams and tributaries in uncharted country. He noted a chain of mountains, white with snow, which he called the Cascades. Circa 1834.


Whychus Creek runs through the southern half of town.

The Santiam Highway (U.S. Route 20) and the McKenzie Highway (Oregon Route 126) merge briefly to form Cascade Avenue, the main thoroughfare through downtown Sisters. On Cascade Avenue, there is a lot of pedestrian traffic and many specialty stores and galleries. East of Sisters the two highways split, with 126 heading to Redmond and 20 going to Bend. West of Sisters, the road splits once more, with the McKenzie Highway becoming Oregon Route 242 and running west over the McKenzie Pass (a summertime-only scenic route over the Cascades.) The Santiam Highway proceeds over the Santiam Pass.


Wanderlust Snowshoe Tour

A snow blizzard on a cold December day- this is what Wanderlust Tours calls “perfect play conditions”.  Our front desk team headed out tentatively- adorned in our winter finest, following our tour master, Jeff, into Sisters Country to do some snowshoeing.

After some suggestions about our attempted snow attire (“cotton kills” and if you go out in jeans you are going “jersey style”- not good!) Jeff came prepared for our group with different sizes of boots, ski pants and hats to better protect us.

During our approximate 30 minute drive to Upper Three Creeks Snow Park in the snow-capable and ultra comfy Wanderlust van, Jeff answered all our rapid-fire questions and prepared us for white adventure ahead.  Once we arrived he assessed our snowshoe needs, instructed us on how to properly strap in and led us out and away.

Being a veteran guide of over 6 years, Jeff had an easy manner and a winning way (with me anyway) of stopping frequently to chat about what we were seeing. I saw beautiful trees and brush, but Jeff showed us how to look closer, how to tell what type of pine we were looking at by how many needle clusters it had and by the scent the broken needles emitted. He talked of dangerous lichen clinging to trees and branches, counseled about tree wells and indulged a question or two about winter survival techniques. All the while he had a close eye on our progress and kept the pace easy- never making me feel like his stopping to give a mini lesson was really more to just let me catch up and catch my breath a bit too.

Open to suggestion and requests, Wanderlust Tours guides’ are flexible, knowledgeable and anything but canned. Potential guides go through 150+ hours of training/shadowing before being on their own. No tour is the same as the next, and you feel that your guide is out there playing too. Ah, so this is where we changed from tentatively following him out to completely trusting him.

After finally getting the hang of this snowshoeing thing, Jeff indicated it may be time to head back to the van that was somewhere over that-a-way. Easily found, he helped get us out of our straps and even snapped a few wind swept pictures before herding us in and offering hot cocoa with marshmallows to help thaw us. The drive back was slower as the snow had accumulated, but gave us time to reflect on our adventure, ask more questions and wonder why we hadn’t done this sooner!

Wanderlust offers a variety of tours for just a few people to large groups, and they can put almost anything together with advanced planning and booking. Groups of 6-8 can be picked up from various general points in Bend and at FivePine Lodge as well. Tours times are three times a day: 8-9am, 12:30-1pm or 6-8pm.  They take requests and can tailor the experience to the groups’ needs. Terrain is back country and depending on which park you go to, will be a mix of uphill and descents, they prefer not to come back the same way they headed out and doing a loop of sorts is the goal. Tours last approximately 4 hours and distance traversed will depend on how often you stop to chat, investigate and/or have a hot drink. Children under age 8 are not advised unless accustomed to long treks. Prices vary by season and tour type.  Book your own unique tour soon! or 541-389-8359/

Wanderlust offers numerous trips in the winter including a Bonfire on the Snow, Moonlight & Starlight Snowshoe Tour and Shoes, Brews and Views tour.  With each tour, they provide snowshoes, transportation, instruction, hot drinks and also winter attire (if necessary).

To get to Upper Three Creeks Sno Park from FivePine Lodge: Take a left from Hwy 20 onto Elm Street (Road 16). Travel south approximately 11 miles to the Upper Three Creeks Nordic Sno-park. Road 16 is not plowed on a regular basis and at times access is limited to the Lower Three Creek Sno-park (9.5 miles). Portions of the road are steep, narrow and may require tire chains or traction devices.


Central Oregon Sled Dog Tour

Outdoor Winter Adventure only 1 hour from FivePine Lodge . . .

When my husband told me he wanted to take one of the sled dog tours up at Mt. Bachelor for his birthday, it was no surprise.  He had become a sled dog enthusiast after watching some of the races that took place in Central Oregon between 2002 & 2004.   While I shared his interest in the sled dog sport, I wasn’t so enthusiastic about going on one of the rides.  Am I going to freeze in that sled and how comfortable can it be? It looks like something more suited for hauling firewood, than delicate me.  Anyway, it was his birthday, so I put on a happy face and checked into arranging this.

I went to the Mt. Bachelor Ski Resort website and looked for the link to the Oregon Trail of Dreams sled dog tours.  The website was very thorough in providing all the tour information and driving directions to the meeting point at Mt. Bachelor.   The website stated reservations were required, and I called 800.829.2442 to make our reservations.

When we arrived at the Sunrise Lodge at Mt Bachelor we easily found the starting point for our tour and checked in with one of the tour guides. We had plenty of time before our departure, so we went inside the Lodge for a cup of hot chocolate.  It was snowing pretty heavily at this point and I began to be anxious and wondered if I was really going to enjoy this adventure.

When we returned to the starting point, our musher and owner of the dog sled tours, Jerry Scdoris, was already selecting and harnessing the dogs that were to become our 8-dog team.  We learned how important it is to place the dogs in the best positions as they all have their different personalities and running styles. They all got so excited and so anxious to start the run.  I think it was at this point that I started to feel the excitement. Jerry got us settled in the sled, me in the front and my husband behind me.  It was pretty snug, but with multiple blankets on top of our legs and a waterproof cover sealing us in, we were well-protected and pretty warm.  We were, of course, dressed for the cold weather and once we started I was glad I had borrowed a pair of snow goggles.

As Jerry took the brake off the sled the dogs lunged to a start and we were off down the trail.  I couldn’t tell you how fast we were travelling, but the dogs were pulling us down the trail with ease.  Before long I had forgotten about my anxieties and felt as if I had been transported into a fantasy world.  I had been out in the forest during heavy snow before, but this was amazingly different.  I don’t know if it was just watching those dogs joyfully running across the snow, the beautiful scenery or being mesmerized by the snow falling gently all around us.  Whatever it was, I didn’t want this ride to end.

Along the way, Jerry chatted about his dogs and their training and care and how he came to the sled dog sport.  From his conversation, it was pretty easy to understand the incredible bond between a sled dog racer and his dogs.  Jerry also talked proudly about his daughter, Rachael Scdoris, who is legally blind and operates the tours with him.  She is a skilled sled dog racer and has twice participated in the renowned Iditarod Sled Dog Race which takes place in Alaska each March.

As we completed our loop and started to get closer to the end of our trip, I was wishing we had signed up for the longer 26-mile trip, which takes 5 hours, including a lunch break at Elk Lake Lodge.  I may have not been up to that, but certainly something I will consider in the future.  Our trip was a wonderful experience and a special memory.  Now, each March we follow the Iditarod race online. We recall our own sled dog adventure and just maybe have a little understanding of why those mushers feel the need to venture out in the Alaska winter wilderness and follow their sled dogs teams, hopefully to the finish line.

Ronni Duff

Metolius River Hiking Trail & Wizard Falls Fish Hatchery

If you are visiting Wizard Falls Fish Hatchery, a wonderful add-on would be a trek on the beautiful Metolius River. Directly across from the fish hatchery parking lot, signs are clearly visible for West Metolius Trail No. 4018. The trail can be accessed from the Canyon Creek Campground, Candle Creek Campground, Lower Bridge Campground, and Wizard Falls Fish Hatchery as well.     

Hiking here is an easy affair, the paths are level and clear, and crossing little creeks and waterways is made all the easier by the careful placement of broad boards to hasten your progress. While there is an incline, it meanders gradually and gracefully, making this a less strenuous choice for those not wanting to tackle too much, but wanting to get out and commune with nature and revel in the glorious views that this pristine river affords.  The fish hatchery and trail provide a great option for families with children and others not wanting anything too strenuous.

The vistas are outstanding as you watch the voluminous river rushing by, and if you trek in the fall, the colors are an amazing assortments of green, orange, yellow, rust and red and the air is refreshingly crisp. The trail is open in the Spring, Summer and Fall months and there are no trailhead fees.  There are 4.2 miles of incredible scenery, including swirling waters, falls and foliage. The average “out and back” hike takes approximately 2-3 hours.

To get there from FivePine Lodge: Take Highway 20 west out of Sisters approximately 10 miles. Turn right at Camp Sherman taking Road 14, turn right and travel approximately 10 miles to the Wizard Falls Fish Hatchery entrance.

The Hatchery is open from 8am to 7pm daily, year round, and is run by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Nestled in the Deschutes National Forest, the park like setting of the hatchery is both peaceful and informative- providing interpretive signs and display ponds. There is a viewing platform at the large settling pond for spotting Kokanee, Trout and Atlantic Salmon swimming in their natural environment, a classroom of sorts.  Signs indicate the presence of raptors that regularly swoop in to capture their food. Plenty of picnic tables abound and fish food is readily available for .25 cent handfuls.

The Metolius River is a tributary of the Deschutes River.  It flows north from springs near Black Butte and turns sharply east, descending through several gorges before arriving in the western end of Lake Billy Chinook.  Camp Sherman lies astride the southern end of the river.

The Metolius River is most famous for its trout fishing (the upper 10 miles is fly-angling only). Every fall, lower sections of the river turn red when thousands of kokanee make their run from Lake Billy Chinook into the river.

Stars Over Sisters

Central Oregon is fortunate to have beautiful clear skies over 300 days of the year.  From your cabin patio at FivePine, you can sit back and enjoy the peaceful sounds of nature and see an endless amount of stars.  

A few weeks ago, just after sunset I saw a particularly bright star wandering around near the moon, and I wondered what it was. The moon itself was a waning sliver of light at the time, just about to enter its “new” phase. Realizing that a new moon means no moon, and no moon means very sparkly stars, I remembered that the Sisters Astronomy Club would soon be hosting its public stargazing program at the high school soccer field. A visit to people with telescopes could probably answer my curiosity over the wandering star.

The program started at 8:30pm, in the Sisters Parks and Recreation building (SPRD) near the high school. There was a lecture and open discussion about “trans-Neptunian objects” and about what we would be seeing that night. Around 9:15 pm, we walked out to the field where several telescopes had already been set up.

I gravitated first to the telescope that was pointed at the bright star I’d been seeing. It turned out it was Venus, which makes sense because planets are the only celestial bodies that wander in our skies (aside from the moon). In the telescope, Venus was only a half-moon shape, because of its current position relative to the sun. Imagine how bright it would be in full position!

After Venus, I stood in line quite a while at the telescope focused on Saturn. It was worth the wait, as I got to see that planet in a position I’d never seen before – at a slight tilt as if to show off its rings. It was so beautiful and iconic an image, it was hard to believe it was real. To the naked eye, Saturn is just a point of light among a billion lights, but in the telescopic eye-piece it is a special work of art.

Other sights that evening included Mars, fuzzy star clusters, distant nebulae, and some rather local phenomena like satellites and meteors. The program ended whenever the watchers had seen all they cared to see, or when they got too chilly – whichever came first.

The Sisters Astronomy Club hosts this star watch, named “Stars over Sisters,” on these upcoming dates in 2012. All programs start in Room 1 of the Sisters Parks and Recreation building on the far side of the high school parking lot.

Friday May 11th, 8:30pm

Saturday May 19th, 8:30pm

Friday July 20th, 9:00pm

Friday August 17th, 8:30pm

Friday September 14th, 8:00pm


Three Sisters Mountains

Have you always wondered how the Three Sisters got their names and the history behind the magnificent mountains in Central Oregon?  Our wonderful Donell at the front desk has done some research that she wanted to share with everyone!

The Three Sisters region was a volcanic center in the Pleistocene epoch, with eruptions from 600,000 – 700,000 to 170,000 years ago, an explosively active complex known as the Tumalo volcanic center.  The Three Sisters are three volcanic peaks of the Cascade Volcanic Arc and the Cascade Range in Oregon, each of which exceeds 10,000 ft (3,048 m) in elevation.  They are the third, fourth, and fifth highest peaks in the state of Oregon and are located in the Three Sisters Wilderness,about 15 mi (24 km) southwest from the nearest town of Sisters, Oregon.  The three peaks have 15 named glaciers among them, nearly half of all the 35 named glaciers in Oregon.  A very old story suggests that the mountains were named in the 1840’s by members of a Methodist mission based in Salem.

Basaltic lava flows from North sister overlay the newest Tumalo pyroclastic deposits, making the age of NORTH SISTER, THE OLDEST OF THE THREE, LESS THAN 170,000 YEARS.  North Sister, also known as “Faith,” is the oldest and most eroded of the three, with towering rock pinnacles and glaciers.  It has not erupted since the late Pleistocene. It is the most dangerous climb of the Three Sisters, due to its level of erosion, and thus rockfall.  North Sister is a shield volcano consisting primarily of basaltic andesite and is estimated to have last erupted over 100,000 years ago and is considered extinct. The North Sister possesses more dikes than any similar Cascade peak.  Many dikes were pushed aside by the intrusion of a 300 meter wide plug dome that now forms the mountain’s summits of Prouty Peak and the South Horn.

Middle Sister also known as “Hope,” is a stratovolcano consisting primarily of basalt but also has erupted andesite, dacite and rhyodacite. Last erupting approximately 50,000 years ago, it is considered extinct.  The mountain’s form is that of a cone which has lost its east side to glaciation.  The Hayden and Diller glaciers continue to cut into the east face. The large but retreating Collier Glacier descends along the north side of Middle Sister and cuts into North Sister’s west side.  Middle Sister is the smallest and most poorly studied.  It is also the middle in age, but only somewhat older than South Sister, with the most recent flows dated to 14,000 years ago.

South Sister, also known as “Charity,” is the youngest and tallest volcano of the trio.  Its eruptive products range from basaltic andesite to rhyolite and rhyodacite. It is a stratovolcano overlying an older shield structure, no more than 50,000 years old, which last erupted about 2000 years ago.  The first such episode, termed the Rock Mesa eruptive cycle first spread tephra from flank vents from the south and southwest flanks, followed by a thick rhyolite lava flow.  The second cycle, the Devils Hill eruptive cycle, was similar in result, but was caused by the intrusion of a dike of new siliic magma which erupted from about twenty vents on the southeast side, with a smaller line on the north side.

South Sister has an uneroded summit crater about 0.25 mi. in diameter, which holds a small crater lake known as Teardrop Pool, the highest lake in Oregon. South Sister supports two small glaciers, the Lewis and Clark glaciers, near the crater rim. The standard climbing route up the South Ridge of South Sister is a long, steep, non-technical hike that can be easily completed in a day by reasonably fit hikers. Popular starting points are the Green Lakes or Devil’s Lake trailheads.