Oregon Timber Trail

As we've mentioned before, the OTT has been a huge focus for us this year. We've been in meetings, becoming certified sawyers, doing trail work, studying maps. All of this is important ground work, but at some point you need to get out there on a bike and see how this thing runs! The original plan was for three of us to start at Lakeview and head north. What actually happened was two of us started in Oakridge, I went as far as Detroit and Harry finished in Hood River. Day one was a shakedown ride on the Middle Fork Trail from Sacandaga CG to Oakridge. It would be a chance to get a feel for loaded bikes and give us a day with a bike shop nearby if anything goes wrong. Turns out the only real issue we had was me forgetting my SPD shoes, so I shook it down in running shoes while Tori drove back to Portland to get the SPD shoes. Sorry babe!

Day 1

Middle Fork to Oakridge shakedown  - 37.8 miles 1,398 ascent

The trail rode great. It was cool to ride the same section of trail that the Trans Cascadia/Santa Cruz guys cleared in April. Lots of good improvements on the lower section since last time I rode it years ago. Harry sees a skunk on trail – tail up. Later I see the owl I’ve been wanting to see! Got the Owl card at Local 180. I’m calling that my spirit animal for the trip. The singletrack went quickly and then it was all gravel and pavement (mostly flat and downhill) around the reservoir. Hung out at Greenwaters and took an icy bath in the river. Harry actually jumped in. So cold! Got fish and chips at Local 180 and chatted with Randy. Set up camp at Salmon Creek CG while Tori rode Salmon Creek loop.

Day 2

Waldo to Lava Lake - 37.2 miles 2,569 feet ascent

It was finally time to leave town and get in the woods! In theory, we could have just ridden from Oakridge, but we decided Bunchgrass would be a rough way to get into this thing - based on what I saw during our work party I knew it's more clear than it's been in years, but still slow going, especially in the “uphill” direction…so we got a ride from Eugene up to Waldo. Besides, it made sense, in terms of navigation to just start with the Deschutes Tier (Segment 6). I had never seen Salt Creek falls, so Eugene makes a quick sightseeing detour. Salt Creek is the second largest waterfall in the state after Multnomah. It's impressive with lush green lining the steep walls.

Eugene dropped us off at Betty Lake TH, saying it’s a great (mostly downhill) way to start the day. I’d have to agree, but there was a fair amount of climbing and a few trees down. Overall a fun trail! We didn't spend any time at Waldo Lake, I just filled up a bottle at a spigot and we were soon doing a short 1.7 mile climb to Charlton Lake. Charlton is on the PCT, so we shared a lakeside lunch break with through hikers on the shore. Harry had been here on a weekend trip before, so he got a kick out of stopping at the exact place his group had hung out. He saw his friends dog name he had burned into a log with a magnifying glass.

Charleton to Little Cultus Lake was a bit more work. It felt hot and a bit exposed. There were more downed trees and the trail was more technical. (Update - Trail work party Aug. 11-13, 2017 Cleared this section with hand saws!) That vibe didn’t last long and the trail turned into a fun downhill dirt road that led to campgrounds and lakes. At mile 26 we reached Cultus Lake Resort. It’s a bit surreal to travel through the woods and end up at a Lake with power boats and swimmers and weekend campers. No complaints though, since the restaurant at the lodge has excellent cheese burgers for $10.50 (the Reubens looked tasty too) Milkshakes are a bit expensive at $6, but if you’ve got a craving, just saying…The store didn’t have much more than overpriced can sodas and some chips and candy bars. It’s all about the restaurant at Cultus Lake Lodge. (Make note: Closed on Mondays! Open Tues. to Sat 8 – 7:30pm Sunday 8 – 4:30pm) We act like we're famished, scarf down food and play on the internet. I’m struck by how our leisure time doesn’t seem as leisurely as most.

The weather changes while we’re at Cultus Lake. The wind picks up and now there is thunder in the distance. We wonder if we’re racing a storm. Checking the radar indicates that we are, but we speed down dirt roads toward our destination. The dirt roads aren’t particularly scenic or interesting, but they make for good fast pedaling. At one point, the road kicks up into a steep wall. We hike a bike over it and are greeted with views of peaks and descend towards Lava Lake. We arrive on the outskirts of Lava and see the headwaters of the Deschutes River. We ride singletrack to the edge of Lava Lake and watch a huge group of kids doing cannonballs and throwing themselves into the lake off the dock. We ride more singletrack over to the East side of the lake and set up camp just off the trail. It’s really peaceful sitting next to the lake watching ducks and birds do their thing. We make dinner and watch a spectacular sunset that seems to last for an hour. 

Day 3

Lava Lake to Three Creek Lake – 30.8 miles 4,117 feet ascent

Our day starts with a fun, if slightly technical pedal on the shores of Lava Lake. The weather is slightly overcast and we feel lucky. Knowing the Bend area a bit, I know the possibility of the trail being open and hot. The challenge on this first bit is that the trail is peppered with lava rock, has some grunty little climbs, and the trail gets a bit sandy in places. The riding is good. Our bodies are doing well, so nothing really to complain about at this point.

We should note that we’re opting to ride the Metolius-Windigo trail at this point instead of the “official” route. Most folks, after asking about the Edison Lava trail and the pretty hefty detour on a harder route that veers East will likely choose the more direct route towards Mt. Bachelor. The issue here is sharing the trail with equestrians. The forest service wanted us to take a different route to avoid possible user conflict. I’ve never had any problem sharing trail. I’m respectful. I call out hellos and ask the riders how they would like me to pass. We’re all just out here enjoying trails that are meant to be shared, so I intend to share them. ‘Nuff said. Route choice is in your hands. If you want to be careful, maybe avoid the Met-Win on weekends.

We only meet one cyclist on trail- a guy out doing a 50-mile ride. Actually we meet another couple that’s doing a road trip and mountain biking as we near the Mt. Bachelor resort. We chat a bit and talk about their itinerary and favorite trails they’ve ridden.

As soon as we arrive at the resort we hear sled dogs making an awful racket. They’re harnessed up and chomping at the bit to pull a cart. They jump in the air, still tied up, yapping wildly. We watched transfixed until they sprint out of the gate. We head to the café for pre-wrapped wraps and croissant sandwiches and some sort of pecan gooey bar. It’s expensive resort food, but unless we want to take the lift higher up the mountain to go to the restaurant we’ll have to be content with this. Harry sets to work adding a spacer to his bike to eliminate the headset knocking he’s developed. Luckily there is a rental department bike shop and he can borrow tools. I watch thunder clouds develop and DH riders coming and going from the bike park. I also take the opportunity to charge my Di2 and my USB battery and phone. We end up hanging around the resort for close to 3 hours! Watching the radar, it seems like we might be in for some afternoon storms, but for whatever reason it never rains on us.

After a short bit of sandy road wrong turn, we veer right back into the woods to find the Flagline/Dutchman Tie trail. This has to be one of the most delightful bits of the route. I had been curious, after spending some time up at Three Creek Lake last year how to connect from Bend to the Lake. I was about to find out. The initial wooded part is beautiful old growth. There is some snow still on trail, but not much and it’s easy to get around and still see the trail beyond it, so no big deal. We get views back to Bachelor and ahead to Brokentop. It’s really pretty in here. We see a few day hikers, one young couple ask us how far do they have left. Guys! I have no idea where you started! By the way they were walking kind of sideways, I’m guessing their Brokentop hike was a bit much. Our trail transitions to dirt road and climbs steadily up. We pedal through clouds of butterflies and enjoy the little stream crossings.

 

It’s a cool zone and we’re happy to be making good time on dirt roads. There is still the threat of lightning, but we pedal on enjoying the day.   At some point the pretty gives way to logging and moon dust road surface. It’s a bit of a bummer, but you know…folks need the lumber. At some point Harry points out that we’re riding through a tinder box and ask what we do if lightning strikes. That puts a little pep in our step and we decide the only solution is to get up and over to Three Creek lake. We stop for one heavy flowing creek that overtakes the roadway and find a log crossing bridge through the trees. I filter water from a particularly scenic babbling stream dotted with wildflowers. Eventually we reach Three Creek Lake road and we start the slow spin on washboard gravel road to the lake. Part of me just wants to bomb down to Sisters and have city food, but I know Three Creek Lake will be a nice place to camp. I know too that tomorrow will start with a cool singletrack descent into Sisters, so relax…one thing at a time.

We took a little dip in the lake and sat in the sun to warm up. Gabe had suggested we trek up to Little Three Creek Lake as an alternative, but by the time we rolled in we just wanted to sit in the sun and relax and have some food and that’s just what we did. We were slightly annoyed at our neighbor's RV generator, but that’s what you get in pay sites. Luckily we were tired and the generator didn’t run all night.

 

Day 4

Three Creek Lake to Suttle Lake– 42.1 miles 1,873 feet ascent

We wake, filter water, make coffee and oatmeal and pack up camp. We stop briefly at the 3 Creeks Store. Harry goes inside to inspect while I snap photos and walk out to the dock. We remount and bomb the gravel road. We soon discover that Harry and I have different tracks. Which one is right? We both claim we downloaded them just before the trip, so we’re both confident that we have the most current file. Luckily or unluckily we decide to follow my track. Looking back, I’m pretty sure I had an older file – so maybe we had a track that was an older version. So the track we took takes you flying down some sandy whoopy doubletrack that basically dead ends when you hit a XC ski trail. (mile 6 on my Strava file)

We move some smaller downed trees – still mistakenly thinking someone else will be coming down this same road and want to get through. Luckily I had ridden this trail –The Met Win or Trail 99 last year, so I have a track on Gaia that shows we’re close to intersecting that track. So I poke around and over a little gully and find that (barely there) trail. I was grateful to have experience in this area, or I’m pretty sure I would have backtracked up that dirt road we just came down. I say lucky because this is one of the highlights of the trail for me. It’s exactly what I wanted out of the Timber Trail. It’s challenging trail. There is some wayfinding required. It’s sandy and overgrown with Manzanita in parts, but it’s ultimately really rideable, but you’re left with the feeling that very few people actually ride this trail. You go through burns, you get views of peaks, you struggle to see where the trail goes, but ultimately all those extra challenges just contribute to the experience. Also, it’s mainly downhill with a few little punchy climbs to get over ridges. This upper part that I rode last year – I’m pretty sure isn’t the official track. I wouldn’t tell you to ride it, but I think you’d be missing out if you skipped it. But at the same time I wouldn’t totally feel comfortable sending someone else out on my track knowing it looks like a dead end when you’re out there on trail. Wait. I changed my mind. This is bikepacking. If you knew to expect a short bushwack through a little gully, I’d say go for it. I promise you. A thin little singletrack line awaits you…and it’s sweet.  You can see it on my Strava file you can see at mile 7.2 another right turn trail connection off a doubletrack that’s hard to see. (I did the same thing when I rode it last summer)

Eventually, at mile 11.8 (on my file) you find yourself on the more established Peterson  Ridge Tie Trail. This part feels groomed and well ridden. There are still some little rock problems to get through and it gets a bit boring as you’re coming in to Sisters, but just cruise it and enjoy the swoopy, fairly flat trails. We plunk ourselves down at Rancho Viejo for burritos just in time for lunch. It’s hot in Sisters. The sun is out and it feels like a town that forgot to plant trees. Also, it feels like a highway runs right through town – it does. The car traffic is annoying and slightly too fast for a little western town. I know part of that is truth and part is just the feeling you get being back in civilization after enjoying the woods. Harry is right though -  if you want visitors to enjoy town, it would improve the experience to not route highway traffic right through the tiny downtown.  We then wait in line at the Sno-Cap for berry milkshakes. I love these old school diner/ice cream joints! Apparently everyone else does too. Small shakes run $4 and the gigantic large runs you $5.25. Their burgers are pretty damn good. I’ve taken them to go in the past when riding over McKenzie pass and it hit the spot!

Harry has more issues to work out on his bike. He’s spotted a ding in his carbon rim – the concerning part is that there is sealant coming out of it. So, we head over to the excellent Blazing Saddles shop. Totally worth a stop even if you’re not having any bike issues. The guys at the shop are very friendly and lots of different kinds of riders come through there. A guy riding the Trans America route is in there buying bottle cages and eating a pint of ice cream when we’re in there. They said several OTT riders had already come through and the local news did a spot on the trail. We think it’s cool how much notice the trail is getting.

It was hot rolling out, but the trails were easy and mostly tree covered. Again, the afternoon pedaling was easy and a nice contrast to the adventure biking in the morning. After a while, the trails climbed a bit more and we found ourselves bathed in evening light streaming through the trees as we rolled into Suttle Lake Lodge. If you haven’t been there, it’s a bit of an oasis. Ace Hotel folks took it over and it’s a bit hip and toney with nice drinks and cool loungy furniture. But don’t let any of that scare you, head over to the boathouse and order yourself a fried trout sandwich and a cold beer. We lucked into a rustic cabin and I have to say it was nice to have a real mattress for an evening.

Day 5

Suttle Lake to Crescent Mountain – 42.1 miles 1,873 feet ascent

 

 

In the morning it was nice to sip good coffee at the bar and then head down (again) to the boathouse for really good steamed egg sandwiches. I ate the trout and cream cheese version on the spot and packed the bacon and cheese to go.  It was hard to leave Suttle Lake. If you needed a rest day and wanted to paddle a boat and sip cocktails, this would be the place. We enjoyed answering questions from kids staying at the lodge. But we had miles to do!

The trail around Suttle Lake is easy, but as soon as you get past it, it’s a short, pretty vertical hike-a-bike that gets you up and winding behind some smaller lakes and kids camps. Again a short, sharp HAB and we were in thickets. Where did the trail go? Really, if my Etrex hadn’t made it seem like we needed to go left and over those downed logs it would have been easy, but hindsight is 20-20. Instead, we plowed over large blowdown and me, being gassed from the hike, sort of lost my balance and sat down on the log, which would have been no big deal, but I snagged my shin on a sharp broken branch and started gushing blood. Ugh! I didn’t waste any time and pulled out my first aid kit. I have to admit my kit is pretty minimal, but I did have gauze pads, gauze wrap and coban (the sticky stretchy wrap they use on horses - I was pretty pleased when I found turquoise coban for cheap at the farm supply store near Redmond) I was surprised how much it was bleeding. I pulled out a second gauze pad and wrapped it up tight. We sat for a minute and then realized the trail was behind us, and we actually didn’t need to hike over those trees. Like I said, hindsight is 20-20. This was actually the beginning of the dreaded sandy dirt road that would become the Santiam Wagon Road.

The wagon road is a fine way to travel if you’re in a covered wagon, but on a bike it requires a bit of technique and constant momentum to not bog down in the sandy soil. We plowed ahead, enjoying views of Mt. Washington and wondering about the footprints in the road. It looked like someone had taken dance breaks in running shoes. It made me wonder if some folks do bikepacking completely differently…or maybe ATV riders take dance breaks. I’ll never know. Soon we began seeing RVs and campers and moto riders and we were mentally no longer in the middle of nowhere. At some point the trail became a sandy trench littered with lava rock and I dubbed it the most god forsaken bit of trail I had ever laid eyes on. The sand must have been 12 inches deep if not deeper in some spots. You could ride far left in the tree scrap to try to find some terra firma, but ultimately that ended and you found yourself trying to sand surf and not let your front wheel turn 90 degrees. Luckily that stretch was steep and short. We crossed a road and put us in a stretch of old growth that was fast and flowy. That part too didn’t last long and we found ourselves at the top of McKenzie River Trail. What!?

You know that sensation when you think you’re somewhere totally unknown and suddenly you realize exactly where you are, since you’ve been there multiple times. We sat down and chatted with a trail runner that had just finished her trail run and was having a snack just like us. Soon we saddled up and rode McKenzie to Clear Lake. Oh to be on smooth singletrack again with views of turquoise lakes! This cycle would repeat itself over and over on this trip where we’d chug through the wild parts and end up being surrounded by campers and day trippers next to a lake. Clear lake lodge is decidedly old school, but since it’s the only game on Clear Lake, it’s crowded with families. We wait our turn and I order a tuna melt for here and a burger to go -both with large servings of potato salad – and a coke. Damn that Coke hit the spot! I grab us Snickers ice cream bars just to top off. It’s not like I know how demanding the trail ahead will be, but I figure an extra treat sure ain’t gonna hurt. We need the calories. I leave my phone to charge and we go down to the dock to chill out and watch families paddle on the lake. Clear Lake has a definite chill vibe going on. Lazy even. Again, I can’t help but think my leisure activity is so completely different than most people, but I try to stay in the moment. Right now we’re part of this lazy scene and it’s perfect. I unwrap my shin to clean it up and put on butterfly bandages and a new gauze pad. It’s deeper than I thought. Ugh. Time for fresh coban too. I know it’s going to be a struggle to keep it clean on trail. I elevate my leg on the dock and wish I had been more careful climbing over that tree. Oh well.

We saddle up and enjoy the smooth return trip on McKenzie River trail. Soon we’re on 126 for two miles and then we hang out on the shoulder to use cell phones before ducking back into the woods. A short pedal on highway 20 and we take a right on 2067 and start climbing to the trailhead. After about a mile and a half we find ourselves at the Crescent Mountain trailhead. It’s late afternoon and there’s not a soul around. What is this Crescent mountain trail. Topo says it’s going to be steep. I had gotten a note from a friend that does lots of trail work in this zone saying it’s really hard even with an unloaded bike. The early part of the trail is narrow and occasionally rooty, but rideable. We stop for water at the first creek and I fill up my bottles and about a liter of my Platypus. But soon thereafter the trail kicks up and after riding the first bit it becomes just too steep and the hike-a-bike begins. It’s pretty in here! Big trees! Steep slopes! We know it’s supposed to be a 2500 foot climb in 4 miles, we just don’t know how long it will take, so we put our heads down and get it done. Before long we find ourselves in overgrown meadows. The trail gets narrow and I keep trying to imagine a place that’s flat enough to sleep for the night. I’m not wrecked yet, just thinking ahead and getting slightly nervous about the terrain we’re getting into. It’s pretty wild and not very tracked out. It’s gorgeous though and we soon find ourselves in and out of stands of trees and getting views far beyond. Wow! This trail is special. But it feels like evening and we still don’t have a plan for how far to go or where to camp for the night, so we push on.

After hours of pushing heavy rigs the trail splits and we guess the trail to right goes up to the summit and we end up being right. Soon the trail gets rocky and we find ourselves on a narrow ridge and find what’s left of a fire lookout. That’s a shame, because it would be amazing to have a fire lookout as a reward for that climb. Instead we do our best to make a flat spot that’s not teetering on the edge of the cliff. We scarf down our Clear Lake to-go burgers and potato salad, snap photos and enjoy feeling like we’re on top of the world. You can see every peak up here – the sisters, Broken Top, Washington, Jefferson, Hood off in the distance. Maybe the tip of Adams too(?) I alternate between feeling really vulnerable and being amazed that we’re going to call this camp for the night. You have to realize I don’t have any mountaineering background, so this feels cool and slightly scary to me. I don’t sleep on peaks normally and I get nervous about dry camping, not knowing much about the terrain that lies ahead tomorrow or the next day…but everything is fine. We didn’t kill ourselves getting up here. We have food. We have some water and we know where we’re going tomorrow. Still, I have trouble sleeping, thinking about routes and possibilities. Today was a pretty big day. But I try to keep it all in perspective. We’re only at 5600 feet elevation.  I wake up a couple times to pee. I can’t believe the sky! It’s incredible up here! Good idea Harry.

 

Day 6

Crescent Mountain to South Pyramid  - 7.7 miles,  489 ft. elevation gain.

I wanted to keep what water I had left for drinking on trail, so I eat some bars and what’s left of my chocolate chip cookies – now a bag of oats and chocolate chips. We take our morning photos and step carefully over broken glass – probably the windows from the old fire lookout. I promised I would start slowly, but the trail is buff! Like really smooth, and not that much junk on the trail. I see cut logs and realized this trail has a trail fairy looking after it. I forgot to mention today’s ride is just down to rendezvous with the Trans Cascadia crew, who as luck has it – set up camp at South Pyramid TH and is spending the weekend doing trail work! Super lucky coincidence, since we’re kind of in the middle of nowhere. This area is not that easy to get to. But I digress! We were in the middle of a sweet descent. In fact I can’t believe how nice the trail is – and did I mention clear of blowdown. When you’re having a sweet descent you really appreciate not having to jump off your bike to climb over trees. Before long we’re at a creek and I get to filter. Harry and I are both carrying the new MSR Trail shot. It’s $50, weighs only 5 oz. and is a very handy little tool.

When doing research on how to get to the TC work party, I called the ranger and asked about the South Pyramid Trail. The ranger said folks sometimes ride it, but in his opinion it’s too steep and technical for bikes. Better hiking trail. So, I asked a friend Joe Meyers, who I met at a TC work party in April what that trail was like – he said “that’s the one. That’s the trail you want to take – mostly downhill with a few little climbs out of creeks. Always ask a mountain biker for a second opinion. If I had taken the ranger’s word for it, we would have skipped one of the finest bits of raw untracked trail of the trip and  would have done miles of horrible vertical gravel roads instead. We made the right choice. Only the very last section was overgrown and after the TC work party, it’s been brushed. We rolled into camp before breakfast was put away. Thank you TC for sharing grub and for doing so much incredible trail work! You guys rule! We spend the rest of the day working on bikes, (Harry got a spare wheel brought so he’ll be installing that) lounging, and doing the most ridiculous shuttle on the craziest logging roads you’ve ever seen. Hard saying no to the TC crew. They work hard and usually have really good ideas.

Day 7

South Pyramid TH to Detroit- 35.7 miles,  3,412 ft. elevation gain.

 

Again, like leaving the comfort of Suttle Lake, it was going to be hard to leave our friends at the Trans Cascadia camp. They were gearing up for a day of trail work and riding, and we packed up our rigs again. I had a fresh load of camp food  and trail butter and I picked up a fresh pair of socks (oh boy!) Harry had a new rear wheel to boost his confidence. Chris B (co-authour of the OTT route) was heading home, so we grabbed a ride with him to get us out of the hole we were in – well, save us a bit of gravel road climbing, to be slightly less dramatic. The idea was to get dropped at Thule Lake, but at some point the road didn’t go through, so we got dropped on road 560 right at Pyramid’s trailhead where it’s decommissioned. We hiked up over that dirt dam and starting climbing and sweating. After crazy overgrown trails, these dirt roads seem pretty simple. But as I learned driving shuttle yesterday on up-down steep logging roads, I realized this area is no joke. Expect lots of climbing and lots of descending. We pause at Thule Lake to check it out and eat a bit. It seems a bit stagnant, so we keep moving. We find a decent groove climbing these roads. At some point we even get a bit of pavement. Man! We’re making decent time. But then we get to a certain viewpoint and we realize we’re heading pretty close to the Mt. Jefferson wilderness fire. We make some calls and learn not all that much, so we decide to continue forward. You really have to commit in this area. You’re going to descend a bunch, so turning back to retrace your steps won’t be easy, so best to keep moving forward if you can.

Soon we reach the trailhead for Bachelor Mountain. Hey! There’s a Prius with a Bernie sticker at the TH. That means we might actually see someone on trail…but we don’t. We climb, we juggle our loaded bikes over sketchy trail that’s hardly there, mostly sluffing off downhill. It’s not all technical, but many parts are loose and have pretty good exposure. Those parts wouldn’t be all that hard if you were hiking, but they're hard with a loaded bike. We hold our breaths and make it through. We keep hoping the trail will improve on the back side, but it doesn’t. It just gets more wooded and more overgrown. I don’t mind overgrown if you can see a path forward, but when it’s ferns over rocks, you start worrying about twisting an ankle. We ride some, hike some and eventually make it out, but it’s stressful. We hit gravel road and begin our descent. At some point, Harry mentions that it looks like (on his Avenza maps) that road 2234 doesn’t go through. Rather than finding an alternate route that we don’t know about, we decide to push on and figure it out when we come to it. Sure enough – we find ourselves at the mother of all decommissioned roads. Someone wanted to bury this road. I’m talking about a 10 foot mound to climb over and then you realize it’s a monster landslide that has grown over. When I got home I called the Detroit ranger station and learned it slid in 1996 and was then decommissioned rather than rebuilding the road. So we’re talking about 20 years of growth on top of the landslide…so loose footing and brushy trees to push through. Luckily someone had tromped through here before us, so you could make out a path. Otherwise I doubt I would have known which way to go. Also at some point in my exploratory hike I heard voices down below us, so I knew we were somewhere, if that’s worth anything. It at least gives you hope that your near something and not lost in the middle of the woods. I was happy to make it through, because we had just done a huge descent and retracing steps would have taken hours and we were pretty dusted after Bachelor.

After the bushwack it was steep gravel descent down to highway 22. Between the sketchiness of Bachelor and then the closed road I was in a mood. It's my own issue really - having expectations that the route was more fully vetted, that someone had ridden this before me and would have raised a red flag if the road didn’t go through. I had thought that the route would be more fully formed, but it is what it is. The website gives a pretty hefty disclaimer that this route is new and unproven and raw in spots. Well I had just experienced two examples in one day and I was feeling a bit raw. The reality is that only Kim and Sam had ridden the whole trail, and it turns out that they bypassed Bachelor, so they never ran into the landslide. Well, toughen up buttercup – that’s bikepacking on a new route. So, take note: the route has now been changed to include that glorious South Pyramid Creek Trail and it now goes up and over Gordan Peak and Scar Mountain and avoids Bachelor altogether. That adds a bunch of climbing and singletrack and I know Trans Cascadia has done a good deal of trail work in that zone, but I can't say they cleared the entire OTT route. This reroute creates another unknown that someone should go test ride.  Of course you can take whatever route you like, just know that this area doesn’t see that many tires. That’s really cool for an adventure, but it may not be as clear as you like and it may take longer than you expect. Bring maps, bring food and water and be ready to adjust your expectations. 

I didn't plan a hard and fast itinerary - it's hard to if you're not riding solo. I never said for sure I need to make it to Hood River in X amount of days. I just said I’d ride as much as I could. I wanted to enjoy the process and push my self a bit. Aside from the gash in my shin, I wasn’t injured. I still had energy to pedal my bike, but mentally I was done. I felt really vulnerable in an area I had no previous knowledge of. I felt like I should have done more of my own research about the route. The Detroit Ranger district map would have revealed that 2234 didn’t go through. I had focused a lot on my cycling fitness but maybe came up a bit short on mental preparation – really studying the route. I called Tori and told her we were heading to the diner in Detroit. I needed a burger and a beer. I needed to be off my bike and to relax. It’s a 6 mile pedal on Highway 22 with all the fun pigs heading home from the weekend, so it wasn’t blissful, but at least it was paved and mostly downhill. So much went through my head on that pedal into town. I knew how much energy I had put into the OTT, how much I had trained by body. I knew how much trail work had done by OTT and The Forest Service throughout the years to get the trail ready, but none of that mattered right then. When I had first heard about the route, I knew there was no way to clear 600 plus miles of trail. There was going to be some rough riding in some fairly remote parts. Having experienced roughly a third of the route – and aside from the Old Cascade Crest area, we had ridden some of the easiest parts of the route. I felt good about what I had done. I know I'll ride more OTT. Maybe I do it in three parts. Maybe I lighten my load and do the whole thing faster in one go. Who knows? Time will tell. As Harry I and said this is our trip, we'll do it on our own terms. I'm always reminded of the Merckx quote “Ride as much or as little, or as long or as short as you feel. But ride” 

I felt really lucky - to have a great trail partner in Harry. To have folks like Gabe (and Harry and Chris B) who had put so much time into planning the route…to the folks that did trail work…to the Forest Service…to the Trans Cascadia crew…It’s an amazing thing, this OTT. We realize that as much as been done, there are still years and years of work to get this thing polished. Huge parts are ready now and have great flow. Some parts need more work and will make for some challenging riding. It has a bit of everything really. We liked the rhythm of singletrack mornings and gravel road afternoons. There was plenty of water and stops in civilization. We got sufficiently deep into the backcountry to feel “out there” We're committed to making the Timber Trail great for the future, so we'll continue to do the trail work and help spread the word about which parts are running well and what to look out for. We're just getting started…I'm excited about this journey.

WHAT WORKED

Bike was flawless -  added air to rear shock after day 1 to eliminate rear tire saddlebag rub on hits

Revelate Bags worked great! - sleep system in front roll, snacks in Mag Tank, Food in frame bag, tools in Jerry Can, Cook set and clothing in seat bag

40 degree bag was plenty

2P Tent for bugs. (Will try tarp, bivvy with mosquito net next time)

Montbell Dynamo wind pants (2.6 oz)

Pearl Izumi X-Alp Launch 2 shoes were great.

7Mesh bibshorts and Glidepath shorts

First aid kit with pads, gauze, tape, and coban! Tegaderm too!

Garmin Etrex 20 for navigation

Anker USB 13,000 battery charger

Leatherman Juice S2

Lezyne digi pump

Spot Gen3 for tracking

Harry’s Avenza and Locus maps (great level of detail)

Homemade Instant oatmeal and dehydrated meals supplemented with restaurant meals in towns/resorts

Nuun hydration

Trail butter – tasty, high calorie to weight ratio. Harry's new favorite 

Maxxis tires (Minion DHF 2.3 in front, Forekaster 2.3 in rear) with plenty of Orange Seal sealant

 

WHAT DIDN'T

Forgot my shoes!

Sea to Summit pad puncture on night 1 - Swapped it for an REI pad

XT Di2 derailleur clutch

Knight Trail wheels too flexy - will try a stiffer build

Gaia was spotty (but useful at times to see mileage and where we were on route)

Tore Darn Tough sock

Tore Swiftwick sock

Route: no connection on 2234

Bachelor needs work (rerouted)