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.