BEND, Oregon — In Bend, when the sun sets, everyone heads down from Mount Bachelor.
That's the best time to go up, according to Jared Garfield:
"My favorite hour of the day is that twilight hour, as the sun is going down."
"I mean this is my office!” he said, standing on a sparkling carpet of snow in the midst of some old-growth hemlock. “It's pretty hard to have a bad time in this forest."
The outings start with a van ride from Bend up to the base of Mount Bachelor's ski area, where Garfield gathers the group to share some how-to advice and safety tips for avoiding tree wells in the fresh powder.
Then everyone stomps into the forest, their way lit by headlamps, and moonlight.
"The weather is perfect, we've got a beautiful moon, and we've got some beautiful fresh snow here. I don't think we could ask for a better night,” Garfield said.
There are no crowds - and no packed-out paths - on these adventures.
"We just try to get out here, we don't stick to a trail, we just wander around looking for fun things to talk about, nice hills to run down, just looking for that fresh snow."
Playing in powder is a highlight of the night. The group takes turns bounding down hills covered in snow so fresh it takes to the air in glittering billows then the snowshoes kick it up.
“So the night trips are hands down my favorite - I think that most people don't go out at night, on purpose, by themselves,” Garfield said. The dark does add an element of fun and mystery to the outing.
It's both a winter wonderland and a high-altitude workout since this hike starts at 5700 feet. The tours are always tailored to the groups' desires and abilities. And there's always a reward at the end of the trek. After all that ice, a bonfire and some locally brewed beers.
"It's just amazing being out here, and it's such a beautiful night. What with the full moon and the crisp air and the wonderful company - it's pretty great. We live in an amazing place,” said Amy Pinkston, one of the night trekkers.
It’s a place made even more amazing - by moonlight.
"To bring them out here, and to be able to share the beauty that is Central Oregon? Especially at night, it's just so darn incredible,” said Garfield after sharing a toast to the night’s trek.
Nighttime trips are $100 per person, snowshoes and headlamps included! They even have snow pants and boots you can rent if you need them.