Zen On Dirt


Back to Colorado, back to the alpine

Back in Idaho, many weeks ago now, Scott and I woke up in our big tent groggy, tired. ‘It’s smokey’ I mumbled and rolled back over. The smoke which had invaded the state had only gotten worse, making the decision to skip town an easy one. We paid a visit to the Ketchum library (we’re becoming well-versed in libraries around the west) to computerize a little bit and pointed east.

First to a hot springs on the route.


Then onto Craters of the Moon National Monument where camping was relatively cheap and we knocked a few more dollars off of our annual Interagency Parks Pass. Camping in a lava field, that was cool.


I once made a case for having a kid because it would force us to slow down and do things like Interpretive Walks around parks instead of big, stupid stuff.


I’ve figured out that I don’t need a kid in order to walk in the Interpretive Paths. We dawdled, looking at all the really cook formations in the lava flow.


Then on to SLC, where it was still smokey. And on to Boulder, where it was still smokey. Might as well go to Winter Park, where it was, still, smokey. I had a series of ‘adulting’ things to do in Boulder over the next few weeks, so we settled into WP for a semi-extended stay. As in, we brought our box of food inside.

Inspired by the Long Ranger, we set out on a series of Bike-to-the-hike adventuritas. Neither of us were brimming with energy, but the call of the alpine was far to strong to resist. I used to be a die-hard I’ll-only-use-a-car-if-absolutely-needed commuter, but I’ve gotten softer over time. Still, it’s nice to leave the car parked as often as possible and ride from the doorstep.

First up was Byers Peak. With a semi-stormy forecast, we actually set an alarm and got going early.


Scott still doesn’t fully trust my navigating around the trails of WP, mostly because I navigate by experience. ‘We have to hook up the descent where Neven and I crashed into each other at high speed with the spot where I passed Amanda Carey during one of the WP XC races to the trail where Alison Powers smoked me in the last mile of another race.’ I know where I’m going, but I understand the skepticism.

I got us to the trailhead where we could ride an extra 1.8 miles before hitting Wilderness. Then onto hiking.


It was a straightforward ridge walk with one spot of using hands.


The smoke was still making breathing unpleasant and muting the views, but what can you do.


Back down, coast down the road, ride some trails, pedal to Fraser. Eat pizza. Ride home. Perfect.


Next up was Vasquez Peak which is rarely accessed from this side because of a nearly 4-mile road which is closed to engines, but open to bikes.


It was a stormless day to frolic above treeline. Just lovely.


With the weekend came the Big Mountain Enduro Finals. We’d seen Krista’s van parked up Vasquez Road during our Vasquez Peak ride, but we’d passed it at 10am, and Scott didn’t think she’d be awake yet, so we didn’t knock. J-Bake flew in from Tucson and we had ourselves a little Tucson reunion.


In the evening, after pre-riding and eating pizza, Krista insisted on showing J-Bake videos of the trails that he didn’t get a chance to pre-ride. Laughter was barely contained. Enduro is funny…and looks like a lot of fun too. There seems to be a good bit of beer involved, and J-Bake ate pizza for breakfast and dinner two days running, which is my type of living.


With the Enduro crew gone, I talked Scott into one of my terribly awesome ideas – Walk from Berthoud Pass to Rogers Pass/Rollins Pass road. ‘We’ll hitchhike down the pass and then pack up to Berthoud, it’s Labor Day, everyone and their mother is going to be up there!’

Scott was skeptical. As he should be. But really, I’ve never led him too far astray. Yet.

You can see the ridgeline in its entirety on the drive from Berthoud Pass down to WP, all above treeline, all gorgeous. All CDT, or CDT alternates. And I’d been itching to hike it since June when we decided the snow situation was still, well, snowy.

Up towards the top of MInes Peak.


Towards Flora.


To the top of Eva for a snack.


Up Perry, the prominent three-fingered hulk that looks down at the resort.


The the semi-exposed traverse over to James Peak.


There was some scrambling.


We met a trio of hikers at the top of James Peak. ‘Of course we can give you a ride down the pass. We’ll even give you a ride up to Berthoud. It’s only an extra six miles!’


Two of them were retired doctors making the most of their retirement and showing a new Colorado transplant the ropes of the Colorado mountains. It was nice to have company on the final four miles down…and it was even nicer to not have to worry about getting a ride. I’d hoped that with the number of hitchhikers I’ve picked up over the years, I’ve got some good hitchhiking karma built up.

We had one more adventure left in us before going on a mini Tour de Colorado.

Further feeding our obsession with riding and hiking sections of the CDT, we parked at the Henderson mine at the base of Jones Pass, rode up a little connector trail and then headed south on the CDT. It was ridable! High alpine rideable CDT. That’s like finding a three-eyed unicorn! Well, there was some hike-a-bike, but we were pleasantly surprised.


We donned running shoes for a quick-ish jaunt up Mt Nystrom, and then actually had to run/jog in our running shoes as the sun was threatening to set on the way back. I need to run more, I like running.


Then coasting back to the car.


Well, except for the hike-a-bike section.


Definitely chalk that section of trail up to ‘Who’d have thunk?’

I had one more adult errand to run in Boulder, so I drove Scott most of the way up Berthoud Pass (I’m not waiting in the construction zone, you can pedal from here) and pointed towards the front range. For not having left the house until well past 1pm, it was a pretty good little adventure.

More of Colorado called. There were things to do. People to see. Summer was ending!

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Idaho Hot Springs Double Date

As I look outside, the leaves of the Colorado high country are changing, the air is crisp, and I’m wondering what happened to summer. It’s been the usual pattern of play as hard as possible until we crack, take a week to rest and catch up on work, and then go again. I always plan on catching up on this blog during down times, but in the end, good books, trying to learn some Spanish, and occasionally some trashy TV take priority.

Back this Spring, Alexis and I had planned a tour of the ACA Idaho Hot Springs Route for the fall. Sandwiched between Denny getting back from Peru and the two of them having to go back to teaching, our time window wasn’t exactly huge, but good enough for some quality bikepacking.

My one main goal for the trip was to ride the Boulder-Whiteclouds section of trail. I could rant about how this Wilderness designation came to be (to me, it seems much more about political gains rather than actual land conservation), but I grew up in Boulder where mountain bike trail politics, at the time at least, were horrible, so really, I’m ranted out. With five nights to play with, we figured that we’d plan the rest of the route based on how long the ‘singletrack option’ took us.

We all met up in Hailey, just down the road from Ketchum, and eventually found parking in at the Galena Lodge 20+ miles up the road from Ketchum. While this shortened our distance to the first set of hot springs on the route, we knew we’d be hating life when we rolled back into Ketchum at the end of the trip and had to pedal back up to the cars.

Our first task was to get lost. We weren’t really expecting a route that claimed to be fully-loaded pannier touring friendly to go on some overgrown singletrack.


The fact that we hit a little section of hike-a-bike straight off on the climb to Galena Pass made us smile.


The descent down the backside dropped jaws. Views! There were views! I was so happy.


We started on the singletrack section late in the afternoon, climbing what seemed like a million feet on barely rideable trail and the dropping down the next valley on what I’d call ‘fairly challenging’ trail. This route apparently wasn’t going to mess around. We made it to Bowry Hot Springs (I’m writing this a full 6 weeks after the fact, I’ll probably make up some names) at dark, ate some dinner, soaked under the stars, and passed out quickly.

Breakfast was burritos complements of Denny, and cinnamon rolls complements of wherever I bought them. I think it was the Albersons in Hailey. Now, with 4 fewer cinnamon rolls on my bike, and a liter less of wine in my frame bag, we could really start riding.


Breathtaking views.


Before we got into the heart of the Whiteclouds, we opted for a soak at a nearby hot spring. This one was super sulfery, which we’d later read was good for skin. It smelled like ass.


We opted out of the first PUD (pointless up and down) since we could see that it was entirely hike-a-bike and skirted around to start the main climb of the Boulder Whiteclouds. There was a lot of hiking.


I’d hate for someone who’d never bikepacked on singletrack to think that this was what bikepacking singletrack was always like. We were going pretty light, and even Scott couldn’t claim to have ridden much more than half the climb. Still, the views were worth it.


We went swimming at a small lake in the shadow of the iconic Castle Peak. It made it all the more special knowing that this area would be off limits to mountain bikes in the very near future.


The trail that mountain bikers actually used and maintained (as opposed to the climb we took to get up to the basin, which is rarely ridden in the uphill direction) was beautiful and rideable.


We each got our glamor shot cresting the top.


Then down to another lake. Up for a bit. Down for a bit. A climb up to Ants Basin.


Somebody please pinch me. Is this real?


We raced shadows down to pick out the best campsite of the trip.


Here? Should we spend the night here?


The morning brought a descent further into the basin to The Meadows, where we saw Sandhill Cranes. #birdnerd


Then more hike-a-bike up Martin Creek. Martin Creek doesn’t really seem to get a whole lot of use…especially in the uphill direction. The sheer amount of hike-a-bike was frustrating even to Scott, which is saying something.


The views of the Sawtooths at the top, and the subsequent descent almost made it worth it. Though I’d firmly say I wouldn’t take that traversal of the mountain range again…which is a moot point because now it’s firmly closed. The west to east way seemed to be much friendlier.


Luckily, there was a hot spring at the end in the form of a cauldron. We had to haul countless buckets of river water up to make the spring water tolerable. It was a lovely, happy soak and river swim period in time.


To Stanley for pizza and resupply. To camp in a dead forest where a wind storm and crashing trees forced us to relocate camp in the middle of the night to a more open area. To smooth and open roads in the morning.


Onto the Lowman cutoff and to the daily hot spring. I nearly scalded my feet and had to fish an abandoned flip-flop out of a pool with a stick because it was too hot to touch. More river swimming. More soaking.


After lunch and resupply at the Sourdough Lodge, we took a cut-off from the Lowman cutoff to save time. A massive, but perfectly graded climb took us from one valley into another.


We camped at a legitimate campsite where we were the only ones because you had to carry your stuff into the site. It’s flip flop o’clock! Down by a river, it was cold, but it had picnic tables. Picnic tables! It’s the small luxuries in life.


We finished off a climb in the morning to get back on the route only to find a defunct hot spring. Bummer. So we kept pedaling up and over another massive climb. If there’s something the route wasn’t lacking, it was huge climbs. I don’t mind climbing, it means you get to coast back down the other side.

We found ourselves in Featherville for a late lunch. A massive amount of food was order to eat there and to haul down the road for dinner. The cafe has fully embraced being on a bike touring route.


With the sun setting, we weren’t sure if we’d actually make the 30 miles to a hot spring that our book had described as the Shangri-la of hot springs. We stopped at a smaller one sooner on the route. Stay or go? There wasn’t much camping to be found in the area, and at most, we could have fit two people in the little hot box, so we kept going. Alexis chugged a Dr. Pepper and set a pace none of us could really maintain.


We rolled in right at dusk and enjoyed a soak and set up camp a stones throw from the pool. It made for a frosty morning.


It also made for a good morning soak where hands and feet had to initially be kept out of the water to avoid cold extremities from heating up too fast. We called it ‘The Turtle.’


Up and over one more big pass and down to a local favorite hot spring for a second soak and then onto Ketchum.


Beer, burgers, and fries distracted us from the fact that there was still 20 more miles of pedaling to partake in. It was the celebration before the actual finish. The beer buzz lasted Denny and I a solid 10 miles out of town.


It was…painful. But really only because we were racing daylight. We eventually bailed off the trail that paralleled the highway and rode pavement to save time. Back to the cars, the last ones in the parking lot. The sun was just disappearing over the pines. Alexis and Denny quickly pointed back towards Logan, Scott and I stood there, What next?

The previous six days were some of the biggest days we’d ridden this summer. We felt a little bit epic’d. As we stood there, watching A&D driving away, we laughed. ‘How awesome is it to have good friends like that who’ll voluntarily go out and undertake something like that, with a time limit, and pull it off?’

There aren’t all that many people like that out there. Especially not ones that make as amazing of a breakfast burrito to bring along for breakfast the first day. What fun.

We drove a few miles down the road. Put out our big tent and warm sleeping bags and promptly passed out, smiling. That was a good way to spend a  week.

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A week near Bend

We had somewhere on the order of a week to kill before our next trip. After a somewhat stressful afternoon coming off of the Hot Sisters route with the car misbehaving and there being no cheap open rooms available in Bend, we finally pointed to the National Forest land south of town, found a pull out, set our tent up, and collapsed.

With the smoke supposedly in Idaho as well, we didn’t really have a clear vision of what we wanted to do. Go scout a better route for Hot Sisters? Head towards Idaho and dork around there for a few days? Go to a town with a cheap motel and work for a week?

Both of us being a little tired didn’t help the decision making process.

We spent one morning scrambling around two caves near our campsite, because really, who’s in a hurry to get to town with power outlets and reliable internet in order to get to work.


After a second night at our campsite where a swarm of bees (wasps?) didn’t want to leave us alone, we knew it was time to do something.

Drive to Crescent Lake. Let’s go scout the route.

At the very least, it would get us out of the heat.

Day one of scouting took us north from Crescent Lake to the north end of Odell Lake where a dirt road would connect to Gold Lake Camp on our route. It was a mess of snowmobile trails and jeep roads next to a railroad, but it went, with minimal BS. Plus, we got to ride a backcountry landing strip straight to a resupply.


Winning. Now, if only it went to the south.

Back at camp, we went for a swim in the lake. Daily swims are required to get the thick layer of dust off the skin after every ride around here.


Later in the evening, two PCT thru-hikers stumbled into our camp. We knew that they were bailing off of the actual PCT to go to Shelter Cove, and their maps advertised free camping with running water and toilets somewhere in the area. We fed them sodas and brownies and had a good chat with Farmer before he went to the other side of the parking lot we were camped in and set up his tent.


Our second day of scouting involved climbing the Metolious-Windigo trail up to Windigo Pass. In the seven miles of trail, we ran into no fewer than a dozen PCT hikers. Seemed like all of them wanted to hike 10 fewer miles and get to their next resupply more directly, so they were bailing off the PCT. All were friendly. Some were in a hurry. Most didn’t seem bothered in the slightest that they had to share a non-PCT trail with bikes.


At the pass, we met a Trail Angel, Burk, who had some friends on the trail and thought it would be fun to spend three days up there handing out sodas, candies, and beers.

Eventually, we got on our way, down a questionable horse trail that would take us to the top of the North Umpqua trail, and hook us back up with Hot Sisters. Thanks to it being a popular equestrian trail, it was beautifully cleared of trees. We met two horsey riders, one with a horse with minimal bike experience, and the rider thanked us profusely for letting her horse take a good look at both our bikes and us as we stood there talking for a little bit.

Turns out, we can all get along.


We coasted the rest of the way down to Lemolo, met a group of four cycle-tourists riding the 4-pannier Surly Long-Haul Trucker setups who were also going around the Three Sisters Wilderness via dirt and paved roads. Their next stop was Crater Lake, just like us three weeks ago. We gave them some beta on food and camping before starting up the road back to Windigo, satisfied that our Hot Springs Alternate was viable.

This time through the trail angel camp, he twisted my arm enough to take a beer from him. It was pretty ideal at the top of the climb. I can’t turn down a Black Butte Porter. It’s my go-to beer.

We passed a few more hikers on the way down, including one that told us we had a ‘thru-hiker vibe’ and another that said she wished she had a bike right then and went swimming again, meeting two south bound hikers at the campground who were professors at Rutgers and making good use of their sabbatical.

We needed to start making our way back towards Bend, but the smoke had cleared, so we made the quick jaunt up to Tumalo Mountain in the shadow of Mt Bachelor. It was great views of the Sisters…without the smoke this time.


Breakfast with my brother and his girlfriend who happened be passing through town. A quick ‘let’s reconnect and share a hug and beta on trails in Idaho and hot springs in Oregon’ with Kimberly from Salida who was also passing through town, and lunch with Triple Crown finisher Alice Drobna, who is one bad-ass woman.

And then we got to work.

We spent two more nights at a campsite out by the Deschutes River, working till we drained the power from computers and phones, going for a ride to see the waterfalls on the river, and then heading to town where we found a plaza with a Barnes and Noble with reliable internet, a Jamba Juice for daily vitamins, a Hawaiian BBQ place, and a Safeway, all within walking distance. It sort of became our daytime home base.


We finally left Bend yesterday afternoon and drove to our standard midway spot, the Horseshoe Bend hotsprings on the OR/ID border. We had a good pre-bed soak.

This morning, we detoured down to the Snively Hotspring for a quick morning soak on the way to Ketchum, where we’ll meet up with Alexis and Denny sometime tomorrow and start the Idaho Hot Springs route. There will be riding. There will be soaking. There will be fly fishing.


Summer rolls on.

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Hot Sisters Day 23 – To Bend…to the end

Well, I guess that’s that. We rolled into Bend today at 12:30, just in time to race to the post office and pick up our bounce box and roast in the near 100 degree weather. It was a little bit of a harsh reintroduction to ‘real-life’ as we knew that the van was out of radiator fluid, so we were left hauling a gallon of coolant several miles back to where the van was parked, in 100 degree heat. But really, the car adventures that ensued really aren’t a part of this bikepacking story. But, I think we were both half-ready to ditch the car in an abandoned lot and just start riding again.

The morning started out as all idyllic mornings do, with my sleeping pad being flat. It’s had a hole in it since pre-CDT, so I guess it’s a issued that I could have addressed long ago. The sky was hazy from the get-go, so it was an easy decision to point towards Bend instead of making some other adventures up. We had five hours to make it to the post office and the street sign said 30-ish miles to town, on the road. I didn’t think we had a chance.


We retraced our steps along the Cascade Highway catching runners who were part of one of those massive 200-mile relay runs, this one going from Diamond Lake to Bend. Then when the road went up, a very fit looking, college-aged guy with a University of Oregon singlet caught us. I mean, we were’t exactly trying hard, but we weren’t dawdling!


Then up a dirt road that paralleled Metolious-Windigo until we got to the top of the climb, and trail all the way back to the top of Mrazek, yet another trail I’d been told to ride earlier in the summer.


It was 14 miles of swoopy, bermy fun. And it dropped 2,500 feet in a manner that often I didn’t have to brake or pedal. It was the perfect way to end a big bikepacking loop and we were all giggles when we finally hit the parking lot at noon. ‘We can still make the post office!’


And we did. And we got the van. And currently the van is running. And the bikes are all tucked in cozy-like and our dirty clothes are in a bag waiting for a laundromat. And we’re plotting our next move from a nice little parcel of forest service land south of Bend.

The trip ended up being on the order of 700 miles. Eight hot springs. Countless lakes. Six fire lookouts. Endless classic Oregon trails including: Swamp Wells, Metolious-Windigo, Waldo Lake, Gold Lake, Fuji Mountain, Bear Grass, Moon Point, Middle Fork of the Willamette, North Umpqua, Salmon Creek, Olallie, McKenzie, Santium Wagon, Coffee and Creeks, and Mrazek. I’d say that it ended up being a pretty good sampling of the best of Oregon.


This was hands-down the best bikepacking loop I’ve ever done. Fairly good resupplies, minimal BS-factor, beautiful rivers, amazing hot springs, low to no traffic roads, and countless thimble and black berries everywhere.

When we finished the CDT last summer, I didn’t know if I’d really recommend it to anyone. I think I’d recommend this one to anyone who asks.

Huge thanks to everyone who gave route info, store beta, and suggestions, especially Jolene and Gary. Your advice was spot on.

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Hot Sisters Day 22 – Hey South Sister!

Tonight is our last night out on this trip, and that makes me sad. It’s been really awesome to do a trip where riding bikes isn’t the primary focus. Instead, we’ve climbed mountains, soaked in hot springs, went swimming in lakes, and for the most part, tried to stop riding before we were toasted. It’s been new and novel. And the riding was pretty damn good too…

Today we climbed the South Sister, which was one of the selling points of this entire trip for me. I think the big volcanos in the Cascades are pretty awesome, and the S. S. is the third highest peak in Oregon. It’s also one of the only ones that doesn’t really require any rock or scrambling skills, so it tends to be a pretty popular hike at 12 miles round trip and nearly 5,000 feet of elevation.


We got one of those semi-early Scott and Ez starts. We left our tent and gear in the campsite and went looking for a place to stash the bikes out of sight. Bikes secured, up we went. Well, a few steps before Scott had to go back to the bikes to get something but couldn’t find them at first. Made me feel good about our hiding place.


The climb was spectacular. One thing I’ve really missed on this trip, and probably should have appreciated more on the CDT last summer, is the big views. Luckily, this trail pierced treeline quickly and we were treated to giant views both up and down.


And then we saw the smoke. Coming from a fire down in the Medford area (we hear) and maybe the Umpqua, the whole top of Mt Bachelor across the road was obscured. Views to the west and south were hazy as we climbed into the smoke, both smelling it and feeling it in our lungs. Bugger. It had been perfectly clear yesterday.


Luckily, by the summit we’d climbed out of the smoke and we got to share somewhat muted views with a PCT section hiker who’d come up as a side trip. South and east was pretty covered in smoke, but we could make out the hills as far north as Mt Jefferson. The views of the Middle and North Sister were stunning.


Eventually, we circled the crater and headed down the loose ash/pumice/rock. Sliding half in control was actually a really good time and we had to stop several times to empty sand and rock out from our shoes. We’ll see if we pay for it tomorrow.


Swimming in the lake was the first order of business. Then a 4 mile pedal to Elk Lake Resort down the road. It was a zoo, but they served burgers and sandwiches, but once again, their designation as a ‘grocery store’ on the Nat’l Geographic map is an overstatement. It’s okay, we hauled plenty of food from Sisters two days ago.


Tomorrow, we retrace our steps to the top of Mrazek, a well-known and shuttled trail in Bend, and hopefully coast most of the way back to town. Then that’s it. And that’s sad.

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Hot Sisters Hot Springs Day 21 – Run to the hills before it gets hot!

We’ve spent the past hour while eating dinner watching a little squirrel cut pine cones out of a tree, drop them on the ground, and then later take them one by one back to his lair. We’re also witnessing an epic battle between a flock of gray jays and Stellar jays. It’s like we ate a TV dinner…except the entertainment was better.


We’re camped at a free campground at the base of the South Sister. We weren’t planning on getting here until tomorrow afternoon, at best, so we have a lot of extra food. This is not a bad problem to have.

We woke up early-ish to try to beat the heat. Moving just shy of 7 is pretty good for two not overly spry-in-the-morning people. But they were predicting a high of 100 for Sister. It was time to get high.


The friendly and happy West Peterson Ridge Trail took us out of our campsite. So flowy. So bermy. So easy. It’s closed to horses and oh so relatively not sandy. We followed it out of the main network and onto the 2 mile connecter to the Metolius-Windigo. They did an amazing job repurposing a decomissioned road to build the trail.

We were expecting the M-W to be horsey-sandy and were amazed when it wasn’t. It climbed steeply, but not unreasonably to reach a high ridge with big views of the Sisters and eventually Broken Top.


We had 3,000+ feet to gain, and while I won’t say it went easily, it went smoothly with minor amounts of bike pushing.


Maybe I’m just starved for big views, but I was ecstatic to be up there, even if the trail was so-so. Scott kept saying that some people might not like it, I kept asking what there wasn’t to like about it.


The goal was to get to Three Creeks Lake before the heat of the day. We’d gotten beta after we’d already left Sisters that there was a store there, but we were skeptical. But there was! A little propane run shack that sold ice cream, sodas, beer, and snacks. When all was said and done, we’d purchase 4 ice cream bars, 2 sodas, and 2 packets of hot chocolate from the nice woman who ran the place.


We went for a swim. We lounged in the shade. We did some ‘laundry’, We waited for the heat to dissipate. We made it to just after 3 before I got bored.


We’d gotten word for a reliable source (he’d been spot on with all of the other route advice he’d given us) that the following 6 miles of M-W was super sandy, dusty, and not worth riding. It took us just shy of a mile to determine that he was right and bail onto the parallel road.

Soon we were back in the influence of Bend and mountain bikers were the primary users instead of horses, so we jumped back on beautiful trail. Descend, climb, roll, stop and gape at the views.


We finally reached the Cascade Highway that we took down to our little campsite, overjoyed to find that it was free and that we wouldn’t have to go find another spot in the woods. Plus, it has a picnic table!



Hot Sisters Hot Springs Day 20 – Dust and Sisters

Dust. The word of the day today was dust. Not sand. Sand doesn’t make you filthy, but dust that sticks to everything, makes everything on your bike creak, and makes the going slow, but goable.


We froze our little patooties off on the coast down to Lake Creek Lodge, and then had to wait 15 minutes for them to open for breakfast. It was worth the wait and we filled our bellies with goodness.

We talked to a couple staying at the lodge who rode and told us that the Metolius-Windigo trail that we were planning on taking, while loved by horsey-people, was ‘soft, but doable.’


They weren’t lying, and after checking out the headwaters of the Metolius River gushing out of the side of a hill, we proceeded to climb nearly a thousand feet on soft, but ridable trail. I just had to stay far enough back to avoid getting completely dusted out.


We ditched packs and camping gear in the woods just shy of the road to the Black Butte lookout and started riding up the road, expecting a similarly empty trek as yesterdays. We were more than a bit confused when we got passed by several cars and found a parking lot full of them at the top. The two mile hike to the top at 6,500 feet had lots of people on it too. I guess I did pull it from the 16 Best Hikes in Central Oregon.


The view from the top was impressive stretching from Broken Top to the south, to the Three Sisters, Washington, Jefferson, Hood, and then Adams in the distance. Oregon’s got a pretty good lineup of volcanos going.


We jogged back down to the bikes, coasted back to our packs, and enjoyed french fries from Clear Creek Lodge in the shade of a tree. It was roasting out.

The M-W trail continued to be sandy, but for the most part, fun. Not a trail I’d put in my Top 10 places to ride, but it so nicely connected where we were to where we wanted to be, which was Sisters. The last 6 miles to town were on the Sisters Tie Trail, which, as far as fun ways to get to town go, was amazing. Never have I ridden a buffer, flatter, or easier trail…while staying entertaining.


We found Sisters to be a little more upscale than Oakridge with no cheap motels, so we charged our devices first over smoothies and milkshakes and then over pizza. I’m starting to understand the appeal of dynamo hubs…Then we loaded the bikes up with some food and drinks, and a massive amount of water, and headed south. 3 miles out of town on a flat and fast trail network, we’re happily nested in among the trees and a (nearly?) full moon.


Tomorrow is going to be hotter than today, so we’re going to make a run for a lake to spend the hot-hours swimming, then on towards Mt Bachelor and the South Sister.


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