Shelled. Shelacked. Destroyed. Wrecked. Our last five miles of the North Umpqua Trail did a number on us. Something about it being a million degrees, going through a burn area, and not jumping into the river when we had a chance.
It’s okay though. We have cookies and a box of wine and are camped next to a waterfall.
Sleeping was warm last night, to the point that I didn’t sleep in my down jacket for the first time in Ez bikepacking history. I am maybe the world’s coldest sleeper. Made for a pleasant morning of oat eating and Starbucks Double Shot Espresso drinking.
The Umpqua trail continued to do what it does best – climb just shy of ridiculous, and then bomb down in a giggle-inducing descent so that you completely forget about the climb. My GASM (Give a shit meter) level was running high, powering up all sorts of steepies and loving it.
Right around 10:30, the heat hit. Time to go swimming! We hit our first swimming hole and I practiced doing belly flops into the cold river. It felt so good. The Umpqua really is one of the most stunning rivers that I’ve ever seen.
Life was so good we decided to continue on the trail until the next trailhead and backtrack to the store rather than just jumping on the highway and coasting to lunch.
3.7 miles of a river trail, how hard can it be? The NUT is deceivingly demanding. This section, especially, didn’t get the memo that a few feet of flat trail every now and again was ok. Grunt up, giggle down. Repeat.
Lunch was at the Dry Creek store. Some sort of egg and sausage chipotle wrap that blew my mind. And an apple. And a Snapple. Made me think back to highschool when Snapple was cool and we’d walk over to Liquor Mart after school every day and buy one for 50 cents.
In the heat of the afternoon, we left the store. We should have jumped straight in the river, but no, let’s just ride a few miles then dunk. Poor life choice. By the time we really needed to cool off, the river was far out of reach and we were high on the hillside.
We both started to lose it. Scott starts bitching about poor trail layout when he gets frustrated. I refuse to ride anything up hill. We make quite a pair.
Finally, descend to close to the river. Is that a side trail to water? Do it!
We found ourselves another lovely swimming hole that was again deep enough for belly flop practice. It was much, much needed and we laughed at our ‘get-there-itis.’ Forget eating, forget getting more water from the small creeks, just get to the river! It’s like trying to get to town. It never ends well.
The trail gave us one more kick in the ass climb before releasing us to pavement at Steamboat. We dragged our poor carcasses, aided by music, six miles to the Steamboat Falls campground. We’re the only ones here. It’s lovely.
Tomorrow, 40 some-odd miles and a bit of trail to Oakridge. Rumor has it that it’s supposed to be significantly cooler. Even this desert and heat lover can get behind that idea.