Notes from naturalist guides in the Deschutes National Forest on and about their adventures canoeing, kayaking, volcano hiking, lava tube caving, gps eco-challenging, snowshoeing, wildlife viewing and just being all around in love with Central Oregon including Bend, Sunriver, and Sisters.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Fresh Tracks

This is that extra special time of year where all of the small (and large) mammals are still very active out and about on the surface of the snow. Before they sequester themselves beneath the snow in what we call the subnivean world they are busy skipping, hopping and plowing through the fresh Cascade Mountain snow that has just fallen. They work tirelessly to check and do last minute re-stocking of their many caches buried inches under the topsoil. Their furry little lives depend upon the seeds and stems that they have tucked away throughout the small sphere of forest that they spend much of their lives within. Little do they know that another small mammal is making fresh tracks in the snow as well: the pine marten. The small mustelid is an aggressive hunter and is after the mice, squirrels and other small mammals trying to survive the cold snowy winter. In the photo above you can clearly see the telltale paw-prints of a snowshoe hare hopping through the snow in it's long-legged gait.
Our professional naturalist guides here at Wanderlust Tours are VERY excited about the fresh snow in the Cascades. All of us look very much forward to a few more inches of snow so that we can take you and your families out to make "Fresh Tracks" of our own!

Saturday, August 4, 2012


It is not just the Americana that surrounds North America’s first means of broader transportation but it is the serenity that accompanies a minor disturbance of the glassy water’s surface and the trickle of water pushing off the canoe’s bow that make an early morning journey memorable.  Yesterday morning’s paddle on Charleton Lake brought quality of life to me and a buddy. A portage of our canoe into the lake, not a human soul to be seen, quiet paddle strokes across the reflective surface followed by an early morning swim- these are qualities that Bend, Oregon affords and Mother Nature is gracious enough to provide us. 

Friday, July 27, 2012

An Inspiring Nighttime Paddle

My paddlers and friends arrived in waves today, which gave me the chance to really talk to each group and I immediately felt a great connection. My first friends were an older couple who were out checking things off their bucket list.  After they checked off Canoeing under the stars tonight with me, they were headed to take a hot air balloon ride over Lake Tahoe.   My second couple were on their honeymoon, from the East Coast, thinking about exploring the West as a living option...I may have spent too much time convincing in the van...the lake did a much better job.  My final arrival was a family of 4 who had been on one of our Starlight trips before.  I was nervous about giving them a tour because I wanted them to be blown away again, just like the first time.  "Worry not!" said Hosmer Lake.

As we paddled past the Wocus, under a half moon, the bats swept past our Canoes, snapping the few mosquitoes that were pestering us on land.  Curving through various channels I heard, and at the same time didn't hear quite a bit.  Laughter when the bats flew close to our boats, or when the paddler in the back happened to steer their canoe directly into the reeds whilst marveling at the night sky.  A few quiet words when a shooting star streaked across the sky or when more stars started appearing from behind the clouds.  And then I heard nothing as well, I looked back to see people laying back, face at the sky just staring and floating.

If someone could have traded places with me, just for tonight, on beautiful Hosmer Lake surrounded by energetic, inspiring friends in all stages of their life, that have come together under the stars, surrrounded by mountains,  they too would be up at 2am thinking about how beautiful our natural world is. How lucky we are to get to explore it with the incredible people that reside in it.

Wander on friends!


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Bend’s Portable Revolution

For too long lovers of Bend’s delicious libations were forced to only enjoy them on bar stools and couches across Central Oregon. When one ventured with rucksack into the high country or spent lazy evening by a riverside campfire, they were left with little choice but to settle on drinking the blandness that is mainstream canned beer. The good news is, recent and upcoming developments in the town with more microbreweries per capita than any other in the nation have made our favorite local adult beverages more portable than ever.

Most of our local breweries have been filling growers and various size “to-go” containers for years, but now that Hydro Flask has exploded on the scene options are nearly unlimited as to where you can easily enjoy your favorite cold pint. A double wall stainless steel design is what’s behind Hydro Flask ability to keep your beverages cold for 24 hours – long enough to pack 64 ounces of deliciousness from one of nearly a dozen breweries anywhere. If a growler is too much of a weight, there are also rumors from some of the breweries in town going to cans over bottles adding to durability and lessening the risk of broken glass in our rivers and forest. Boneyard Beer is looking to be in cans within the year!

If you are that rare Bendite who doesn’t like beer, Scott at Volcano Vineyards has begun putting some of his ridiculously great wines in light and packable plastic bladders. While they pour perfect at home in the locally made reusable pine serving boxes, they also travel well in backpacks and rafts alike.

Of course if you’re looking for an easy way to have an adult beverage in an exotic Central Oregon location, you can always head out on Wanderlust Tours’ Shoes, Brews and Views or Brews and Views trips.!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Stellar Sights!

A late night at the office is something most people try at all cost to avoid. This is not the case for the Naturalist Guides of Wanderlust tours that are fortunate enough to call the vast expanses of the High Cascade Mountains their office. Whether it be winter or summer, we are hard at work sharing our love and knowledge of the heavens and natural world when most folks are snugly tucked away in their beds. The seclusion and serenity that can be found in the high country at night is amplified by some of the best stargazing one can find. The altitude, lack of artificial lights and crisp-pristine mountain air make for ideal conditions to see more of the heavens in one night than most people see in months. 2012 is shaping up to be quite the year for star gazing. In addition to the every day beauty, we have planetary conjunctions (planets appearing close to one another) between Venus and Jupiter and another between Venus and Saturn. We also have two lunar eclipses and a solar one to look forward to along with over half a dozen meteor showers of consequence. I for one am quite excited to put in some late nights in the office this year. Join me on one of our Moonlight or Starlight Tours this winter join in on these truly stellar sights!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Fall Morning Paddle

In the fall, the mornings began with cooler temperatures as the sleepy sun slowly rose in the east. This type of morning always makes it difficult to get out of bed with tired shoulders complaining of the physical work of the summer past. Then I remembered what mornings are like this time of year on Sparks Lake, and so I rolled out of bed into the shower. I arrived at Sparks with a comfortable number of Wanderlust Tour guests in my van, just as the fog slowly began to slink off of the lake. The water was smooth as glass mirroring the hills full of trees, causing them to walk upside down over the undisturbed lake surface. I unloaded the kayaks quickly- not making any attempts to hide my excitement!

Once all were comfortably situated in kayaks we made our way out to the deeper part of the lake toward the ancient submerged stream channel. Paddling the cool morning water we heard something from above our heads; looking up, I gasped out a quick direction for the others to quickly shift their gaze toward the source of the sound. Large, silky wings followed their elongated necks, the three Sandhill Cranes flap there way far over our heads. They are magnificent birds to behold. Sandhill Cranes, Grus Canadensis, are very large birds averaging 8-10 lbs with an average 6 foot wing span! They are tall gray birds with red crowns, which live in open grasslands, meadows, and wetland areas. Spark’s meadow is a perfect match for these birds. They have been coming to Sparks’s meadow for many years for their summer migratory life. They are rarely seen however, while paddling the Lake. This summer was a treat to see them a number of times in the mornings and late evenings.

The guests I was with were just as excited as I to see these magnificent birds. We watched them fly from the southern basalt crags of Sparks Lake all the way north to the lush meadow where they landed leaving us with smiles and wide eyes. Continuing our paddle on the serene lake, we saw a brace of Common Mergansers run across the water, an Osprey circling above- waiting for the right moment to dive for a fish and an Eagle perched on the branch of a Subalpine Fir tree. Yet, the quiet moment with the Sandhill Cranes was the crown atop that peaceful fall morning on Sparks Lake.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Armchair Wanderer: A Late-Summer Reading List from the Wanderlust Crew

Whether you find yourself lakeside, nestled in a camping chair with a summer brew in hand, or indoors, camped out by an oscillating fan or an open window, summer is a great time to kick back with a good book. Around here, when we're not having our own adventures, we love stories of exploration, survival and the natural world.

From the classic (Louis L'Amour, The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe) to the obscure (Inuit folklore, a transcendentalist graphic novel), here are some of our favorite summer reads, to be enjoyed indoors or out:

The Trees In My Forest by Bernd Heinrich
Blending scientific analysis with lyrical memoir, Heinrich
explores his forested stomping grounds in western Maine, offering experiences, observations and scientific insights about forests and trees.

Fremont: Explorer for a Restless Nation by Ferol Egan
A biography of the often controversial Western explorer John C. Fremont, who made expeditions through Nevada, California and Oregon in the 1840's.

The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World by Wade Davis
What can different cultures teach us about life? Will globalization shortchange us in the end? Davis explores the worldviews of several indigenous cultures, from Polynesia to Borneo to the Aboriginal Dreamtime.

Surviving the E
xtremes by Dr. Kenneth Kamler
From the doctor who treated Beck Weathers, the climber left for dead at the summit of Mt. Everest, Kamler's book looks at the human body's ability to survive extreme situations.

The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
One of the original survival tales, Robinson Crusoe tells the story of an adventurous Englishman who spends 30 years shipwrecked on a deserted island.

The Snow Walker by Farley Mowat
Delve into the mysterious Arctic world with this folkloric collection of short stories, fables and legends from
native Arctic-dwellers and Inuit people.

Long Way Down by Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman
The true accoun
t of two actors, two motorcycles, and the people, places and incidents on their 15,000 mile north-to-south adventure from Scotland to South Africa.

Deep S
urvival by Laurence Gonzales
A psychological look
at survival and real-life survival situations. What differentiates a survivor from a non-survivor? What steps does a survivor take in life and death situations?

The Man Called Noon
by Louis L'Amour
A well-crafted mystery from the bestselling western novelist, The Man Called Noon tells a tale of lost memory and half a million dollars' worth of buried gold (with a healthy dose of saloon brawls, gunfights and romance
thrown into the mix).

Thoreau at
Walden by John Porcellino, from the writings of Henry David Thoreau, illustrated by the Center for Cartoon Studies
Thoreau's collection of essays on living simply in the Massachusetts wilderness s
eems a strange candidate for a graphic novel, but the result is an intriguing mix of transcendentalist wisdom and high-quality illustrations from the folks at the Center for Cartoon Studies. Excerpts from Walden are seemed together into a narrative, and Thoreau emerges as the veritable superhero of the natural world.

Plenty: Eating Locally on the 100-Mile Diet
by Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon
The authors chronicle their 365-day journey of seasonal eating around Vancouver, B.C., exploring the ins and outs of local produce, canning, grinding wheat into flour, and what the heck to eat during a Canadian winter.

Rosing from the Dead by Paul J. Willis
Along with poems about names, lost fingers and family life, Paul Willis writes about the natural world, including a few Central Oregon landmarks.