Zen On Dirt

Hot Sisters Bikepack – Day 8

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It was cold this morning. Like, below 40 cold. I am not a cold weather person. Nonetheless, I dragged myself out of my sleeping bag, ate the leftover pizza and a cheese danish for breakfast, downed the hot chocolate Scott had made, and somehow coaxed my reluctant body into a seemingly never quite dry riding clothes.

The goal was to beat all of the vehicle traffic up to Crater Lake, and that meant an early start. My down jacket stayed on well into the singletrack/snowmobile trail that Scott had found for us to take to the park boundary. It got us off of four miles of highway, and only had four downed trees on it, and was actually pretty fun.

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Plus, we’d left all of our camping stuff at the site and were riding unloaded and without packs, so that made steep little upsy-daisies so much better.

And then the pavement climb. We’d succeeded in beating traffic and only got passed by a handful of cars in the 10 mile ascent to the rim.

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We could tell that we were getting to the top…neither of us really knew what to expect on the other side. It looked like such a benign ridge. The first view of the lake…wow.

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We dorked our way counter-clockwise around the lake, stopping to read all of the different informational kiosks. It’s so much easier on a bike than in a car – roll up, read, admire the view, roll on.

We rolled to the Watchman’s Lookout and transitioned to running – taking chamois off and switching shoes. Casey Greene did a cool tour last summer by going to a bunch of fire lookouts. We’ve sort of adopted a similar sub-theme, so we hoofed it the 0.8 miles to the top of this one.

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Hungry by this time, we headed to the visitors center. I’m a master people-watcher. I can spend hours being fascinated by humanity, and the humanity that flocks to National Parks is a pretty entertaining sub-set of people. We ate sandwiches and watched people buy stuff.

Our sights were now set on Garfield Peak, the little peak right next to the visitors center and the most popular trail in the park. We stashed the bikes in the trees and started up.

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We passed a variety of entertaining groups on the way up, spent some time admiring the view from the top, and then hauled ass on the way down. I think we’ve both gotten to the point that running downhill is wicked fun with minimal muscle damage.

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In our subsequent wanderings around the village, we ran into three other groups of bike tourists. Apparently Crater is the place to be. We pondered completing the loop around the lake and maybe climbing Mt Scott, the highest peak in the park, but we’d heard rumors of 3,800 feet of climbing on the loop and the parking lot was overflowing with people and traffic.

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Nah, we decided. Let’s no epic ourselves. We turned back around clockwise, rode six miles around the rim, and then coasted for 10 miles downhill. It was glorious.

Swimming in the lake. Pizza. Sunset watching. This campsite is pretty good. We might just stay yet another night.

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