Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Shred Oregon Day 11: The End

After the beauty of Crater Lake, we had the long drive home ahead of us.  We dicide to break it into two days.  Heading east through Oregon we went through Drew's Valley and Drew's Ranch.  How nice they had that waiting for Drew.

We drove across some amazing landscapes.  I admit, I am partial to the wide open, dry, geology-rich spaces compared to the lush dense forests of the We(s)t Coast.   We went up one mountain front in southern Oregon that blew my mind.  It doesn't really look like much in these photos, but the structure written in  the rocks was startling.

To break up the drive from OR to UT, I researched a hot spring mid way on the journey. On around 6 PM we found our destination: Bog Hot Spring near Denio, Nevada.   Drew was cautiously pessimistic about it on our approach down a powdery double track with no vegetation in sight, but upon reaching the spring, he was pleasantly surprised.

There were a couple of other people coming and going, but they paid no mind to our little stream-side camp.

Here is the spring head.  An oasis in the desert. LITERALLY.

A video of the bubblin'.

After a superb soak in the deliciously warm and thick, metalic water (I always feel like mineral hot springs are "thick" water) ...

 it was time for dinner.  Grilled sausages, deli salads, and good microbrews made us feel so at home but in a desert wilderness kind of way.  THE BEST KIND OF WAY!

we settled in for a dark and quiet night with hundreds of moths fluttering around Dewey.  It was good to be back in the desert.

Drew and I and the bikes agreed that Shred Oregon, with its waterfalls, small cities with friends and relatives, new and different mountain bike trails, and good beer had been one the best vacations we could remember!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Shred Oregon Day 10: Crater Lake

We put our bikes away, said goodbye to Oakridge, and headed for Crater Lake.  Drew had last seen it when he was a child and I had never been.  It's a volcano, geologic, a national park.  Why had I never been?

We found a camp spot after dark and after circumnavigating Diamond Lake and checking out all the campgrounds.  We ended up here in the morning.

 Diamond Lake Campground with Mount Bailey for a backdrop.

Not bad for picking out a spot in the dark.

 Resident campground "wild" turkey, looking for scraps of breakfast.

Pumice covers the ground nearly everywhere for tens of miles around Crater Lake. The pumice is left over from the massive explosion of Mount Mazama that formed the crater where Crater Lake now sits.

To the Park! Just a short drive to the north entrance was in store.

 Obligatory deep snow on roadside picture. 

Mount Thielsen from the north entrance to Crater Lake National Park. 

And then we were there, at the roadside, looking at amazing Crater Lake.  I was not prepared for how breathtakingly beautiful it really was.

 The beauty invites contemplation. 

I should explain the geology of the park but I'm already a month overdue with this post so the best I can do is post pictures of the geo signs. Lame, I know.

More gorgeous pictures. We really got lucky with the bluebird skies and just the right amount of snow for awesome photos!

We had a bit of lunch and some avian company on the roadside.

 Clark's nutcracker

Video of Clark's nutcracker.

A brief stop at the Rim visitor's center to use the bathrooms.  

Extreme measures are taken to preserve access to the restrooms when heavy winter snow is present. 

We went for a short hike to get away from the crowds of the visitor center an the views just didn't stop.

Teensy geology note: a large late-stage lava flow that would have originated near the center of Mount Mazama (center of the lake) shows up really well in this photo as the dark wedge-shaped rock on the rim to the right of Wizard Island.

 Nice volcanic conglomerate in the right foreground. 

But with no biking and limited hiking, there are only so many hours Drew and Lucy can spend in one spot.  It was time to point Dewey east toward Utah to begin the drive home.  We would have one more night of camping before Shred Oregon was through.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

SHRED OREGON DAY 9: OAKRIDGE DAY 3: Beware the underbrush

What the heck? Summer gets so busy I can't even post some pics and memories from a fabulous vacation?  More than a month after the fact, here are the highlights from day 9 of the Shred Oregon vacay.

We had one more day in Oak Ridge, so, upon the recommendation of the Mercantile folks, we we planned a big out and back along the Middle Fork of the Willamette River and up and around Moon Point and Youngs Rock. The first order of business was breakfast.

 The bakery was not usually open on Mondays but they were experimenting.  Tasty.

We drove out around Hells Creek Reservoir (longish drive) to Sand Prairie Campground (complete and total misnomer - these Oregonians have no clue about prairies!!! ha ha).  From there we started riding a fun trail in the underbrush along the river. 

 Is this an Oregon prairie?

Drew was more than worried about the possibility (err, certainty) of poison ivy in this luscious environ, so we bailed off the trail to the pavement.  From there we turned to forest road 2129 for about 4 or 5 miles of super fun exciting gravel road climb. 

The road does not look steep.  It wasn't really, just long and monotonous with nothing much to break it up except my frequent rest and stretching breaks.

We had many miles to drive to our camp spot for this evening so we didn't get all the way up to Moon Point, but we did catch a nice panorama at the end of our climb.

 It's like we are posing for a photo or something. 

 Jean Luc enjoys the view.  It reminds him of is home planet.

We came back down the fire road (yes, crazy silly cross country riders working all that way on the gravel road climb only to go BACK DOWN it!)  to somewhere that we could cut over to the Youngs Rock trail.

That trail was great.  The closest thing to Utah-type riding (drier, more open) that we had done on this trip except the trees were WAY bigger.

There was the small problem on the steep downhill of Drew's brakes not working.  This forced him to have to go too slow and even walk at the very end.  A shame because it was a pretty fun downhill.

Over all, a small amount of single track for the amount of road and climbing we had done, but since we needed the training, all the better. 

We solar-showered up at the van and motored into Oakridge for one last resupply stop before driving a couple of hours toward Crater Lake for Day 10.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Shred Oregon Day 8: Oakridge Day 2: The Force in the Forest

Our 8th day of vacation was what we had really, really been waiting for and the main reason we chose the southern Cascades as our vacation destination. As I said in day 7’s post, Drew had done the Cascade Creampuff 100 mile mountain bike race here in the summer of 2004, just a few months B.L.  Specifically, that race was run on the Alpine Trail, the same we would ride today.  It was memory lane for Drew, so I was happy enough to tag along, but then I read this article.

in this magazine.

The article talked about how the town was hit hard by the end of logging and how the residents were trying to rebuild as the “mountain bike capital of the Northwest”.  The trail descriptions sounded good and the pictures were enticing, so I had to see for myself. 

The day started out with some downtime.  Relaxing and wandering for Drew


And blogging over the park’s good WiFi for me.


Then into town. We went to the Willamette Mountain Mercantile, which is the local bike shop and general mercantile at once, for a map and advice. We knew where to find the shop by the picture in the article.
Yup, same store.

The bike shop guy and gal were super helpful.  They warned of where the poison oak would be and didn’t try to get us to shuttle, as it seems most shredders do in these parts.

To prepare for another big day on the bikes we went to Dairy Queen, where they make real, not fast-food type breakfast (even DQ has to diversify in this town).

Then to the Office Covered Bridge in the nearby lumber-company owned town of Westfir to start the ride, but 50 feet into the ride I realized my pedal, which had felt funny on the decent yesterday was broken beyond repair. Oh no!  I use Crank Brothers Egg Beaters, a relatively common pedal in Utah, but probably not as common in the big northwest.  Would the shop have a replacement?  Back to town to inquire and sure enough he one used pair he sold me for $25.  Whew. 

Alpine Trail, woot woot.

OK, so getting on 1 PM now, we finally got underway on our big day.  We only made it a couple of miles before we had to stop and watch an expert pilot moving logs by helicopter.  The helicopter was unlike any I had seen in that it had no tail rotor and had two top rotors, each rotating in different directions.  Very cool.


Here is a video of the helicopter picking up 3 or 4 logs and transporting them a few hundred yards to a transfer point.  You should watch it ‘cause it is cool.
Helicopter logging near Oakridge, Oregon.

We could put off the nasty business of the fire road climb no longer.  From Hwy 19 we rode up FS 1912. It looks like this and steeper.

4500 feet of climbing over 15.6 miles of 95% fire road.  Please shoot me for not shuttling.

One downside to big thick forest riding is the paucity of clear views of the scenery. There were only a couple of spots for views on our 15 mile climb.

At Kate’s Cut-in we finally found skinny trail which joins to the Alpine Trail.  A bit more climbing and then at the top is a nice open meadow.

And then the 12 mile downhill commences.

My favorite part of the trail is called the Jedi Forest because you are zooming through super tall trees with little undergrowth so you feel like Luke Skywalker (or Leia in my case) on a speeder bike being chased by Imperial Stormtroopers through the forest like in the chase scene in Return of the Jedi.

Another special place on the trail came unexpectedly through the thick forest. 

What a view!
IMG_1537 Stitch

We also saw fauna

and flora.

Lots of tall flora!

Our hands hurt from all the breaking and Drew was starting to wonder if he had boiled his hydraulic break fluid by the time the red Office Covered Bridge came into view again.

And a few minutes later we were taking the post-ride photo at the bridge where we started. The bridge was built in 1944 by a lumber company to replace one that had previously washed out. It is the only covered bridge west of the Mississippi that has a separate pedestrian walkway. Nice bridge.


So IMO, the Alpine Trail lived up to its reputation.  It’s a great trail – even worth three hours of climbing on fire road. Here's the Garmin file for the ride. You can pan around and change to satellite background for more fun.

5+ hours, 27.5 miles and 4700+ feet of vertical.  Time for some R and R after that!

A Good Night

Back at the RV park, the idyllic river confluence scene beckoned us and our refreshment beverages. 

After a long chat with the park owners and a quick shower, we drove back into Oakridge to check out the only brewhouse in town, Brewers Union Local 180


Who needs more than one brewery in town if the one you have is an authentic English public house and brewery with excellent atmosphere and food!

In this small town on a weekday 800 miles from home, who would expect that the only other couple dining on the patio would be a couple that had just moved to Portland from Salt Lake City.  And what cosmic coincidence is it that the female half of that couple was a one-time participant on a women’s only group ride that I led a few years ago, whose contact info I regretted never getting so that I could recruit her for our race team.  Maybe The Force Was With Me that evening.


Whatever the case, we had a great day in Oakridge!!