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Go Here 12/9-12/16

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Full Moon Snowshoeing

With the first snowfall in the surrounding mountains—and hopefully much more to come—skiing and snowshoeing are foremost in the minds of many Central Oregonians. Snowshoeing has become one of the fastest growing sports in recent years as it presents an affordable option for people of all ages and ability levels to enjoy the solitude and beauty of the snowy backcountry.

Consider marking these dates for the potential opportunity to experience a full moon while snowshoeing with a group of friends or family. Dec. full moon this year just happens to be on Dec. 25. After that, the next full moon is Jan. 24, 2016. Then, another full moon will occur on Feb. 22, 2016. Plan and prepare accordingly, keeping weather conditions in mind.

So, where to go?

Pick a spot. The Cascade Lakes Highway up to Mt. Bachelor provides numerous public access points. Between Sunriver and Mt. Bachelor, Edison Snow Park is a favorite among locals. There are five snow parks along or quite near Century Drive where you can strap on your snowshoes. Other opportunities exist in the Ochoco Mountains east of Prineville, south at Newberry National Volcanic Monument near Paulina and East lakes, and to the west in the Willamette National Forest. There is no shortage of opportunity, provided there is snow.

Where to purchase or rent gear?

REI in Bend's Old Mill District, the Powder House, Pine Mountain Sports, and Mountain Supply are some of the many locations where one can purchase or rent snowshoes. Any of these outlets will also have maps and suggestions for where to go. The sport is easy for beginners and an excellent way to introduce kids to winter outdoor activities. If you want a guided service and instruction, Bend's Wanderlust Tours has developed an international reputation and they offer moonlight tours that include bonfires and hot cider. You can check their schedule at wanderlustours.com.

Native Americans introduced snowshoeing as they hunted and gathered food throughout North America. White explorers soon caught on that this mode of transportation was a very efficient way to cross snowy landscapes. Today's advanced equipment has made the sport even more attractive. Next time you are out snowshoeing in Oregon's backcountry, enjoy the beauty and quiet solitude—and perhaps a full moon!

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