Wednesday, August 27, 2008

(Day 22) Let me give this dirt trail mapping a shot…

Friday, July 25th, 2008
Day 22
Lakeview, OR to Crater Lake National Park

Hmmm, according to the GPS data, I was only moving at 7:05am this morning. I must have been slacking off knowing I was finally out of the desert and into civilization. First stop was to fuel up. The Chevron seemed to be about the only gas station in town and it seemed to be open with people walking in and out of the store. The pump took my card, reset the numbers to zero, but would not pump the gas. Dang it, so I cancel the transaction and try the next pump… same story. The next pump? Same story. I motion towards the attendant in the garage area that the pumps aren’t working. He jumps up, runs to the back of the garage and apparently flips a switch… now we’re in business. (I know, dumb story, but I’m just setting you up for later).

It was good being back into the woods and mountains; shade was plentiful, water was never too far away and if you’re out in the middle of nowhere, at least you have mountains to keep you thinking about what was on the other side, whereas in the desert, if you’re in the middle of nowhere, you know it all too well.

Anyway, the trail makes a big loop around the north side of Crater Lake before heading out west to the coast. The area in between me and Crater is really nothing but logging roads. The GPS map of the logging roads looks like a broken car windshield. With my GPS routes not following the roads exactly, there would be many, many instances where I would have to stop and fiddle with the GPS to figure out which road I would need to take. So, I decide to create my own route directly to Crater Lake, avoiding as many highways as possible. The route that Garmin maps out for me looks very promising. Coming out of Lakeview, it overlapped part of the TAT and leads me directly into this semi-locked gate:

I could have opened it, but I believe it would have taken a couple pliers and it looked like it would fall apart. Not trying to mess with all that, the reroute was easy and it wasn’t too long before I was off the TAT and on my own route.

Ah, yes… now this is the Oregon I’ve been expecting:

The logging roads were fun, fun, fun. Twisty, fast, cool temperatures and fantastic scents coming from the surrounding evergreens and pines:

There are probably 1.2 million ways to get across Oregon with all of these logging roads:

One of those ways (which is marked on the GPS) lead me to the top of a mountain where a guy was cutting firewood (I think there are logging areas marked specifically for the public). It’s not surprising that this guy was cutting wood at this point because this is where the road ended. I talked with the guy and he mentioned that he thought a road “used” to go through this area too. He suggested I try the other side of the mountain. No problemo! Err, wait, maybe a slight problem:

I was just blazing my own trail through the wide array of ground cover and eventually hit a hidden brook where I would get stuck. Notice the bike is standing on its own, that’s how deep and narrow the brook was. I eventually muscle it out and continue making progress to the top of the mountain and find a nice two track trail. I was having a ball:

Hey, it’s Nevada’s state flower again, how lovely:

My own route was working out well:

…until I was forced upon the asphalt due to a totally incorrect road mapping on the GPS:

I try to get back on my route, even ignoring a “No Trespassing” sign:

This would lead me to a public recreation road. Later, about 5 miles into the trail, I would learn that it wasn’t intended for motorized use…whoopsie. There were many, many gates like the one below, locked on the left, open on the right:

Eventually, this trail would run over a paved road, so I figured I better take that rather than have some hippies tell me that I couldn’t ride my dirt bike on the bike path. Around this time, I feel my gear shifter starting to feel a little soft. Luckily it was only a loose screw. My first roadside repair after 4000 miles:

One more attempt at getting back on some dirt roads…locked, doh!:

I could have easily rode around, but this seemed to be private land, so I boogied on out of there and back onto the hard stuff:

On the outskirts of Crater Lake:

My GPS said there were two choices to reach the top of Crater Lake, a straight road and… a curvy road. Hmmm, tough choice, think I’ll pick the curvy road!

Unfortunately it turned into a foot trail 7 miles before the peak:

This truly would have been a riot had I attempted to climb Crater Lake by hiking trail, but I guess I’m too old for all of that nonsense. However, one day I do plan on coming back and climbing this trail, I have no doubt that it would be awesome.

All of those trees that I so heroically bypassed on the way up the trail, I would have to un-heroically bypass on the way down:

Even getting a little stuck once:

The sign says, “Snow Play Area”:

Soon afterwards I was getting close to the top of Crater Lake. It’s a shame that we have to fight traffic, get caught up in the rush of things and see so many tourists ambling about this uniquely beautiful area. I actually had one guy tailgate me around the rim road, Geez man! Enjoy the scenery why don’t ya!

But anyway, Crater Lake was truly awesome and well worth the hassle:

And, the area around the lake is just simply beautiful as well:

This is a place I could come back to many times over; I can’t imagine what went through the minds of the people who actually discovered this place. This was one of those rare instances where my high expectations were exceeded.

So anyway, I decide to take advantage of the campsites in the park (I’ve already paid my fees, may as well get my money’s worth out of it) and camp out for the night. Just as the sun went behind the mountains, the mosquitoes came out in full force. Out of all the places I stayed, the bugs were the worst here. I built a fire in an effort to fight back:

… but to no avail. So, I wiggled into my bivy sack before it got dark, tried to learn the French that was being spoken at the next campsite and eventually fell asleep. Stats:

Tomorrow I have ambitions of hitting the coast…

Total mileage: 4445
Daily mileage: 185
Wildlife observed: [forgot to write this information down for the day]
Favorite Sight: Is there any doubt? Crater Lake.
Favorite Scent: The evergreens and pines would put out all kind of combinations of scents. Riding through on a motorcycle is really the only way you can experience this.
Favorite Sound: Not realizing I was standing in a brook until I cut the engine off.
Favorite Taste: Unfortunately, instant oatmeal.
Favorite Feel: Riding around the rim of Crater Lake knowing that there is a wall of water on the other side waiting to burst out.
Ailments: ‘Skeeter bites.

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