Day 3 started out with the epic straight flat road common in areas wealthy in sheer space. We rode into the tiny town of Fort Rock realizing we had missed our chance at a party the night before. Lots of bikers were camped out behind the bar and in the patio. We filled our water reservoirs and bottles, and carried on past the Tuff Ring that is Fort Rock. This was formed 50-100 thousand years ago when a 150-foot-deep lake filled the basin and an upswell of magma hit the mud and water of the lake bottom. The area looked a lot like what I would imagine of a drained sea, with the scrub brush like a floor of coral and seaweed. It reminded me of areas of southern New Mexico – vast concave landform.
We gradually climbed out of the Fort Rock Valley ascending into the Deschutes National Forest. Trees were still sparse, but we were getting back into the pines. The smell – if they only bottled it! This was the first sunny day, so it was a warm ride. It would require most of our water on this stretch – I don’t recall a refill until we reached our destination.
The third day is supposed to be tough, and I felt it. After the dry forestland, we meandered across more sparse brushy vistas. At mile-57, we started an amazing descent down into Sage Hollow. For the next 10 miles we followed Bear Creek and speeds were in the 20+ mph range. Not many photos on this day – too much good riding to do.
At the bottom was a beautiful, green ranch with a paved road, but there was one wicked climb up around Taylor Butte. This was in the heat of the afternoon, and no cooling wind was helping us out – it felt like we were pedaling in an oven. We only went up 800 ft in 2.5 miles, but it was brutal granny-gear crawling with the loaded bikes. We felt our destination nearing as we reached the top, and after a nice descent, we reached the Prineville Reservoir.
After a short hop across the dam, we made good time down the paved road along the Crooked River, and arrived at our favorite campsite of the trip: Big Bend. I had a nice rinse in the cold water of the river, and washed a few items. Lots of folks were fly fishing up and downstream. This was the height of the Memorial Day weekend, but there were still plenty of campsites open. Remote areas don’t get much business even in these heady dayz.
Our water had lasted around 70 miles – one of the longer dry stretches. That said, there were several places we could have begged water along the way if things were worse.
Knowing more about the correct level for my hammock, and after a 78-mile day, I retired around 7:30pm and the birds sang me to a deep, restful sleep.