Zen On Dirt

Hot Sisters Bikepack – Day 10

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We hatched a master plan last night: Pack up camp as early as warmth allowed and hope that the all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet that was served ‘Most Saturdays and Sundays’ was being served at the Lemolo Lodge down the road. Since we woke up famished, we ate a hearty helping of oats before pointing the bikes away from Diamond Lake and towards Lemolo Lake.

But before we could escape the Diamond Lake vortex, we had to try out the singletrack paralleling the lake shore instead of the nice pavement that we’d been taking. The trail was stupid, and we soon bailed back to the road. Never know until you try…

I was amazed at how much we’d climbed on our ‘recovery’ day, four days earlier as we coasted endlessly down the ATV trails, dirt roads, and the last couple miles of pavement. I actually got the hangries a few miles out…but resisted eating.

We were greeted with a full breakfast buffet. $10 per person included coffee. Three plates of french toast, eggs, bacon, and potatoes later, and several cups of coffee, we leaned back, ‘That was the correct life choice.’

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We loaded the bikes with minimal food and even less water and started down the North Umpqua trail. It’s an IMBA epic ride, voted best trail by BIKE magazine, etc, etc. I can understand why. It was perfect bikepacking steepness and tech.

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Deep forests, weeping walls with springs shooting out, endless creeks. Pretty amazing.

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Our goal for the day was the Umpqua hot springs. We hadn’t read the full description that said they were busy on weekends, and being a beautiful Sunday afternoon, we found full on hippy-ville. From the looks of it, many people make the remote-ish trailhead their long-term home. School buses. Vans. Trucks.

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The springs were the most spectacular of this trip so far. Perched high on a cliffside overlooking the river, several deep pools had been carved into the rock. Swimming was done in both birthday suits and swim suits. There were kids and adults. Girls and boys. Weed and patchoulli. Drum circles and guitars.

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I’m glad places like this still exist in the world.

While we were tempted to camp and soak again in the morning, we feared the post-dark campfire drum circle and general debauchery that tends to occur with that many people camping in one spot, so we rolled on.

Riding with no agenda, no finishing time goal, and nowhere to be is my favorite type of late evening riding. We took a little detour to visit Tokatee Falls and saw the most impressive selfie-stick pose session *ever*.

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And now, we’re camped just off the trail in the middle of an abandoned dirt road. The road surface is too hard to drive stakes in, so we did an A+ half-assed tent set-up. It should be fine. There’s no a breath of wind or a cloud in the sky. This is how bike touring should be.

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