On my last day in Eugene I met up with Lindsay, who rode with me out to Oregon City, at CAT. She had been thinking of riding with me to Ashland and fortunately many stars aligned so she could. We woke up late and I needed to reorganize all my stuff so I could get into it easier, so we were already off to a slow start. We met up with my friend, Courtney, who offered to be our tour guide out of town, at a coffee shop. We were sitting there chatting and drinking our coffee when we realized it was already almost one. We chugged our coffee (not a fun nor easy task) and hopped on our bikes. The original plan was to ride out to Fern Ridge Reservoir and then ride unpaved forestry roads to Hills Creek Reservoir, but Courtney had suggested the night before that we catch a Rails to Trails route so we could soak in some hot springs just beyond the route. I really wanted to catch some gravel and Lindsay really wanted to catch some naked hippies. I relented and it was off to Dorena Lake to ride the paved trail.
There was a small climb but most of the ride was a gorgeous stroll through serene farms on calm highways. We got on the trail, which was narrow but completely car-free, and around the beautiful (at parts) Dorena Lake.
We stopped at a picnic site and ate our lunches peacefully when Lindsay realized the Tabasco top she put on her water-bag lid wasn’t as secure as she thought it was. A lot of her stuff was soaked and so she had to uncover it all to let it dry on her trailer as we rode. Through her I learned the importance of watertightness and of keeping important things in bags. Well, I learned this but didn’t necessarily put it into practice.Courtney had to head back to Eugene after Dorena Lake so we said goodbye and continued on our way. Courtney had heeded us to climb this giant hill that day so we wouldn’t have to do it the next day along with 138 (which is real mean).
Lindsay and I had fully intended to do so until we came across a sweet swimming hole.A fast-moving, 5-foot deep creek flowed over smooth rocks through a miniature canyon. A beautiful canyon for us to swim through. The water was cold, but it felt good on the hot day. I busted out my camera and tried to capture the sun and shade as they battled over the rocks and the trees. It came with varied results.
As I write this I am still trying to remember my photojournalism class from college and figure out how to use my camera. Fortunately, there’s an automatic setting.
We played around for a long time before deciding to get back on the road. We came to the conclusions that we weren’t going to be able to climb the hill that evening and so began looking for a campsite even though we hadn’t yet gone 40 miles. Travelling with Lindsay was very different than how I bike tour. We took our time in the mornings and always left at least a half-hour behind schedule, usually more. We also took our time riding. We stopped often and swam or explored cool areas. I’m glad that Lindsay taught me how to embrace this more relaxed style because it will help me to slow down and enjoy the trip and soak it in instead of chalking up another 100-mile day.
We passed a pay campsite and a young guy told us to keep going. He said that for the next five miles there were plenty of free sites. The problem with this thought was that it was Labor Day Weekend. Granted we were there at the tailend, but people would probably still be using the sites until actual Labor Day. We trusted him and rode on. I led us off onto a dirt road that quickly ended and became a hacked trail. There was a sort of clearing near a creek. I thought we could use the rocky beach for cooking and hanging out while we used the “clearing” for a less-than-ideal sleeping area. This was another nice part of not travelling solo: there was someone to keep my ideas in check. Ask anybody that I’ve worked with and they will tell you that I often have big, grand ideas that aren’t always the most realistic. I told Londsay to feel free to curb my ideas as most often they aren’t always brilliant.
We moved on and spotted a paper plate nailed to a tree with “Ryan & Eric” and an arrow pointing into the forest written on it. We took our chances and hoped for an empty site and instead found three. All three would have worked great but the sites had the weirdest, grossest phenomenon. There was toilet paper scattered everywhere. It was as if the people that had stayed there before were dogs that knew how to wipe their own asses. They simply had just sniffed around until they found a good spot, dropped trou and took a shit. We weren’t thrilled and so left it as a back-up.
We mosied on further, pulled off onto another dirt road and were confronted with a campsiteless gravel climb. Forget it. Yet further we found nothing. We were about to turn around and head back to Poop Palace when we found our spot. It was a wide open space that contained many spots to set up a tent.
Weird shrines, and Christmas ornaments decorated the space. A huge fire pit was already built with plenty of wood to spare. We even found a table to prepare our couscous dinner and eat it.
And there was a beautiful, clear creek that ran right alongside us with a big, dry rock in the middle of it and a waterfall at the end. That night we went out with my bottle of whiskey and looked at the stars. It was truly amazing.
Total miles: 45
Places I want to return to: 3
Unusable photos snapped: 28
Photos of the Day: Here