Staying Close to Home

For us “outdoorsy” folk… staying close to home is often associated with a cringe-mentality. Close to home implies being close to comfort, which sometimes is overlooked or scoffed at. Yet, when we take a closer look at our environmental impact associated with getting to and from epic locations for an overnight or backcountry mission, we’re at odds.

Words by Tyler Brower and Robin Vieira
Pictures by Tyler Brower

Truly, which is better? Flying across the pond for mountains that offer something new? Loading up a car for a drive out of the city and into the snow? Or, how long do we let the water run when we do dishes? How high do we keep the heat on at night while we sleep? Comforts exist everywhere we go- this is our privilege, and ironically, a big part of what we try to escape when leaving home for an adventure. 

But need we go far? For our group of friends, our answer was no. We live in Bend, Oregon, a once-small high desert and mountain town in central Oregon, and we live here for the quick access to the mountains. This is one (of our many) privileges, as working millennials in today’s society. But this privilege comes with responsibility- and all of us within the industry, no matter who we are, can do at least one more thing to learn more to creatively respond to our “wanderlust.” We are far from perfect. We all take too long of showers and forget to properly recycle a milk carton.

So, for now, we practiced appreciation for what is close to home and loaded the car up late in the afternoon to drive just 25 min away from town and sleep under the stars in the snow. We toured up a small butte (think of a hill with steep sides) with 360 degree views of the surrounding volcanoes, recruiting a few friends to help us haul the basics.

Here’s what we brought:

down850 Jacket

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mid weight Merino Socks long

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Primaloft80 Anorak

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down850 knickers

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pureUll Long sleeve

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pureUll Longs

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Meet our crew:

Robin: cyclist, runner, skier, creative strategist, mindfulness and yoga teacher
Tyler: photographer, producer, creative director, former professional hockey player
Veronica: ex professional tennis player, mom, digital marketing expert
Eddie: personal trainer, dad, skier, hockey player

Snow conditions were sub-par, but the sky was stunning as the sun settled into the back of Mt Bachelor, which poked out at us to the south of our climb. However, a less ideal snowpack meant high avalanche danger on the northside of our butte, making the bowl we intended to ski at dawn a risky endeavor- too risky. Touring up the south face meant we stayed on a low slope angle, and the trees scattered throughout our ascent anchored our confidence in this being a low risk mission still. As we climbed, the sun dropped lower in the sky, spreading a brilliant orange across the sky. The glow doused the snow capped trees up high in a reflective orange until it dipped behind the mountain, covering us in a purpley-blue blanket of dusk. 

We arrived at the top of the mountain as darkness closed in, bringing a sharp wind chill now that we were exposed on top of the butte. Reading each others’ minds, the crew set about digging a snow trench to pitch our tents in for protection from wind, and up tents went, sleeping bags tossed inside, jetboils turned on, and hot ramen poured into Hydro Flasks to keep warm and cook. Beers were cheered, stars were gazed at, and more and more layers were added to keep cozy amidst the howling wind and snow starting to blow all around us. We marveled at how far away from home we felt amidst the elements, despite our car being parked at the bottom of the butte, just 25 minutes from town. 

Despite staying cozy in our 800 fill sleeping bags and big puffies, the night was somewhat sleepless with the howling wind shaking our tents every few seconds. We didn’t care- it felt exhilarating to be on top of the butte in the chaos of the storm. Morning brought low visibility, more wind, and warmer temps- we were socked in. 

down800 -18.5C sleeping bag 170

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30L Pack

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After a joint camp deconstruction, we packed bags and charted our course for the car. Knowing full well we will all be on the lookout for photo opportunities as we porter our gear down. All taking our turn double, sometimes, triple-carrying packs to get into position and set up for a photo opportunity as we descend. Each group member skis past one another as joyful hoots and hollers echo off the mountain. With grins ear to ear, and the weather not dissipating, the photos of the descent were uniquely their own. Not like the majestic evening light we experienced the night prior, this morning’s light was flat, gray and cloudy not giving room to the “photo-perfect” opportunity while searching desperately for pockets of light shining down as we ski closer to our next destination, breakfast.

As legs burned, jacket and bib vents opened, we made our way down the last stretch, and in our own ways internalized the moments shared and the experience we had. When others ask you about some of your favorite trips, projects, or adventures; answers tend to be of feats and trials or highly successful tales. For us, we all agree that those favorite trips are the ones shared with our family, friends, or other loved ones in places that excite us. This whole experience was nothing technically extreme or difficult in the likes of high summiting a 7,000 meter mountain, yet it hosted a unique array of physical, mental, and emotional situations that our group worked together in and enjoyed which made this particular experience one that we all will refer back to as one of our favorite memories spent outside.

We don’t need to always travel far away to experience the biggest and best when a fun adventure with your best friends can be had minutes from your doorstep. We encourage others to find and re-acquaint themselves with places “close to home” and with that, do your very best to bring a fresh perspective to how you too can make “an everyday thing” more fun and interesting. Smile, take a breath (and maybe a selfie) and enjoy the ride along the way.

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