badgers, bones, Cowboy Dinner Tree, Gravel Touring, Hammock camping, hammocks, Hunqapillar, Oregon Outback, Silver Lake, tall bikes
Waking up to rain is not a great start, so when it happens, I generally go back to sleep. It worked this time! The rain stopped, we got up, ate, broke camp and were on the bikes on a nice paved section by 9:30am. The first part of the ride was a welcome relief from the day before on the bumpy OC&E, but we knew it wouldn’t last long.
Our first surprise came when we surprised a badger who had made a den right on the side of the road. With some trepidation, I went back for the photo opp as we were cruising when he popped out.
He seemed curious, but we stayed well away. He looked to be about the size of my dog (40 lbs) but likely much more fierce. Onward then. Lots of washboard road this day. It helped that dozens of folks had already been through on bikes. We had a nice, packed trail to follow most of the time.
We had filtered 2 liters from Fivemile Creek at the beginning of the day. The only town we would pass through was Silver Lake at the 50-mile point, and we didn’t know the state of the rivers, though with the recent rain, we probably ended up carrying too much water most of the time. We stopped around 11am at a picturesque bridge with a ton of swallow nests to refill for the haul up to town.
Shortly after 11:15am, John’s rear tire sprung a leak. Similar story to the day before. Rear tire (of course), but with some careful pumping and spinning, we got it to hold air. Tubeless – 2, flats – 0.
This was another partly cloudy, forested day. The scenic level was high as we meandered past the Sycan Marsh area and stopped on a flat spot for our lunch. The first couple days we generally had an oatmeal and hot chocolate breakfast, and salami and cheese for lunch. We also snacked throughout the ride on various healthy snacks including gorp, seaweed chips, coconut bars and plenty of filtered water.
We managed to stay dry, and at 1:30pm, we came upon our second badger of the day. This one was seen scampering across the road in the distance, and we didn’t really know what it was until we rolled up nearby and saw the den. He was smaller, but just as photogenic!
We started to get into the red pumice part of the ride. The roads were pretty packed from the moisture, so riding was not a problem here. Pretty road – no traffic whatsoever.
The fabled Cowboy Dinner Tree was in this section, and we rolled in around 3:30pm. No reservations, so I took some photos, and we pedaled on.
We rolled into Silver Lake in time to catch a couple guys on tall bikes. They had left a few days earlier, and were making pretty good time. My bud Colin from last year’s Entmoot ride was there with his solar-power-charging-stationed Cycle Truck, which made a great tall bike kickstand. It’s amazing who you meet in the middle of nowhere.
The proprietor of the local store said the guys that were racing had been through the night before looking hypothermic in not much more than lycra. They had gone through a couple thunderstorms with hail, and were looking worse for wear. She had been worried about their health, but they managed to continue on. Alas – no coconut helado bars, but we filled up our snack bags. and were soon on our way. The remainder of the day was a fairly long flat slog for about 8 miles on Pitcher Road.
We saw a few vehicles on this stretch, and I just tucked in behind John “leg of ox” Halunen after taking a feeble attempt at leading. We found the “last of the trees” for our hammocks on a small rise before Fort Rock, and made camp in a small turnoff.
It was here that I learned that having my head too low was not a workable sleep situation (see pic above). I ended up sleeping pretty poorly that night. Perhaps the bones and the sounds of coyotes exacerbated the blood rushing to my head? That or the last of the bourbon? There were several types of animal remains in the immediate area. This really added to the western outback feel.
– Dubbed – Camp of Bones