Travel Tuesday: Exploring the PNW

Travel Tuesday: Exploring the PNW

This past week of van life has been the most luxurious yet. From multiple showers + meals dedicated to vegetables + legitimate beds in real houses…we’ve been living the high life! By we I do still mean Tanya + I…she spent the week with me as well, until I dumped her off at the Sea-Tac airport unceremoniously on Saturday morning before I rushed off to fulfill my role as a responsible employee for a solid 10 hours. Phew. From the dirt of van life to the joy of hundreds of emails demanding professional responses…

But no one wants to hear about adulting, we all do enough of that on our own time! How about the adventures we found in Bend? And the people! Oh, the people! We weren’t supposed to get into Bend, OR until Monday afternoon but when we heard the Bro’d Trip crew was just chilling […waiting for us to come float the Deschutes River!] we decided to adjust our agenda a bit. We rolled into Bend on Sunday afternoon + immediately hit up a local brewery for food! There we met Justin + Adam, their friend Amanda + my friend Natalie. All of the adventurous spirits united!


Dates: June 27-July 1 [short week, handed the keys over to Terry!]

Miles Driven: 642 [8, 357 – 8,999]

States Visited: 2 [Oregon + Washington]

Waterfalls Witnessed: 4 [Punchbowl, Tunnel, Horsetail + Multnomah]

Nights of Van Life’ing: 3

Nights in Trailhead Lots: 1

Showers Taken: 3 [yay, friends’ showers!]

People are Awesome: Snagged brews + burgers + showers from friends in OR + WA!

After dragging the Bro’d Trip away from the comforts + conveniences of their Walmart parking lot life we stocked up on cheesecake + cinnamon rolls then headed into the not-so-wilderness of the National Forest land just outside of Bend. A few pow-wows later we circled our wagons near a pseudo-trailhead, propped up a few camp chairs + inhaled Tanya’s birthday cheesecake! Yay for other people getting older!

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With a posse of van lifers we had the perfect excuse to put the Camp Chef oven to use — cinnamon rolls! Granted, we took the seriously easy way + simply reheated a tray of pre-made cinnamon rolls but I’m fairly certain that tray of cinnamon rolls is the only reason the Fricke brother’s didn’t murder me. Turns out they are NOT a fan of van pounding + excessively bubbly “good morning” squawks before 8am. Or…ever.

The rest of our Monday was spent getting incredibly lost on narrow Forest Service roads in search of a non-existent trailhead, hiking the trail along the Deschutes River, working away in eclectic cafes, exploring the Newberry Caldera, floating down the Deschutes River on slices of pizza + using up the last of the hotspot data working in a park alongside the river. Yea, our Monday really was that awesome. It sounds relaxed…which it was, because we all simply stopped caring about showers, being on time for anything + public scrutiny. For the record, Bend is a great city for that!


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Our Tuesday required a bit more adulting with a stop by the Sportsman Warehouse, a Wilderness Press author book signing + an even trail run with Bounce Energy Balls + Wilderness Press. To make up for all the time we spent in the city that day we headed for the wilderness for the night, setting up camp in the Cyprus Horse Camp [one of the few that invited non-horsemen].


While the rest of the van posse slept in Tanya + I headed for the Gray Butte trailhead around 7am to snag a double digit morning. We were hoping to connect the Gray Butte loop with the Smith Rock loop for a 20-ish mile day but we ended up bailing out early, clocking only 10 miles before calling it a morning. We decided to compromise with an evening trek up to Tunnel Falls, pushing our daily total to roughly 23 miles. A worthy compromise as the Tunnel Falls were well worth the rocky hike up + dark run down!



Then, just like that, our van life adventures were put on hold! We rolled into Seattle on Thursday afternoon, van vomited all over Terry’s driveway + turned the van keys over…then soaked up *all* the hot water in a heavenly shower. Terry + his wife Kerrie were taking the van up to Alaska, Tanya was returning to real life + I was taking on house-sitting duties while working a bajillion remote hours. Phew.

Keep an eye on the @yourlead_van Instagram for Terry + Kerrie’s stories of bears, wildberries + glaciers. If you’re curious about what’s up in northern Seattle for two weeks…check out @heidikumm on Instagram or follow “heidikumm” for random ramblings from the trail. Don’t worry, I’m only showering once every 2-4 days in an effort to maintain dirtbag status…

About the Author


Heidi Kumm

Heidi Kumm is a trail runner, world traveler, mountain climber, and all around adventure enthusiast. She is so stoked on adventure that she has made it her career as the owner of Adventure Feet First, a travel company that focuses on getting people outside to explore the world around them. Over the past years Heidi has spent months living abroad, volunteering around the world, living out of a van/car/truck, and finding new ways to explore on foot, by bike, or with a backpack. She has learned the ins and outs of self propelled exploration the hard way, so she's here to help us learn from her mistakes and to help us become more informed on how to make your own mistakes, safely.