Zen On Dirt

Hot Sisters Day 17 – Lookouts, Olallie Trail, and hot springs

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Tonight, we are doing our best to define bike glamping. Or, bikepacking glamour camping. I’m sure others could outdo us, I’m looking at Nicholas and Lael here, but for Scott and Ez…I’m impressed.

We have a campsite right next to the McKenzie River (which means unlimited water for cooking). We soaked in the Belknap hotspring just 2 miles down the road, we have another hot spring to soak in 3 miles up the river in the morning, we have an unexpected box of wine, a smoothie, a bottle of orange juice, hot chocolate and enough food to keep us legitimately fed until our next resupply tomorrow afternoon. Plus, we had a pretty dang good sandwich in McKenzie Bridge earlier today. AND – it’s warm out.

It was supposed to rain tonight. I’m so glad it didn’t.

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This morning was one of the colder mornings, and given that we’d ended our ride with a big climb, all my riding clothes that I had to put on in the morning were still soaked. It’s my least favorite part of these adventures. Luckily, we’d left ourselves some climbing and core temperatures rose quickly. That’s my favorite part of bikepacking.

The morning goal was to climb up to the Olallie Lookout in the Three Sisters Wilderness. We parked our bikes, put on our running shoes, and headed up the trail hoping that the cloud cover would dissipate.

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It didn’t, but the old lookout was still cool and we got to watch clouds move in and roll out in the valleys below us before heading down.

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We didn’t really know what to expect of the Olallie Trail that we planned to take down to McKenzie Bridge. “Are you going to put your water in your pack?” Scott asked, and I knew it could be serious. With the lack of any serious hike-a-bike this entire trip, I’d Tour Divided my bike out and put my water in my frame bag and started riding with a really light pack. Great for riding, terrible for hike-a-bike.

We ate some lunch to further reduce pack weight and braced ourselves for 700 vert of hike-a-bike. It was 98% ridable. I don’t know how Oregon trails do it.

Once on the ridgeline, the trail alternated between super dense bear grass making the trail hard to ride, thimbleberry overgrowing the trail making it hard to ride, and wide open forest trail. But, even when the trail was overgrown, the surface was good, so with a little bit of caution, we were able to stay riding for most of it. Plus, the trail designer believed in 100% contour. It was pretty awesome.

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When the trail intersected Saddle something-or-other, where people who shuttle it come in, it got to silly fun. More giggles per foot than any other trail on this trip, and that’s saying a lot. We screamed down to McKenzie Bridge, stoked that the climb to the top last night was worth it.

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We got some sandwiches, we got some dinner/breakfast/snacks and got onto the world-famous McKenzie River Trail.

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I’ve never met such a mellow, cruisy trail. We weren’t initially going to stop at the Belknap Hotsprings Resort because it was developed and all, and required bathing suits, but it *was* right on the trail, and it was only $7 to soak. Why not, we decided. It’d be dumb to skip it. Plus, we got a shower out of the deal.

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Another mile of easy pedaling brought us to this camp site. It’s pretty ideal as far as campsites go. Pretty stoked on the situation.

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One thought on “Hot Sisters Day 17 – Lookouts, Olallie Trail, and hot springs

  1. I’m honored, and on behalf of Lael– who doesn’t usually let a bottle of wine escape her framebag when leaving town– I think she would be too. Glad I read about the last two weeks. Maybe it was the wet weather in the first few days or the trails which improved, but it seems like you’ve found a good life rhythm in Oregon. I’m really happy you aren’t pushing your bike over mountains all summer.

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