Sunday, August 24, 2014
Sometime during the middle of the night Scott awoke for one reason or another. What an awesome surprise to see a deep black sky, chock full of stars. During the trip, we had all gone to bed around dark and/or the skies were cloudy enough that we never saw any stars. The stars were beautiful and just icing on the cake for our return to Oregon.
Clear skies in the high desert mean cool, well, cold temperatures even during the summer months. The thermometer read below 40 degrees as we awoke. Kendrick was cold enough and impatient enough that in less than twenty minutes he had broken camp and said, “I’m not waiting around for you guys. I’m going to get us a table and some coffee!” Off he went. This inspired Scott and Madelyn to follow suit. The couple camping next to us commented that we were the most efficient campers they had ever seen. We’ll take that as a compliment. ;>)
Breakfast and coffee was at the eclectic Mohawk Restaurant in Crescent. We all consumed cup after cup of coffee, along with plates of eggs, bacon, hashbrowns, and toast. This was pretty much our orders of choice during the trip, as our appetites were easily satisfied until lunchtime without the need to snack along the way.
Directly behind the Mohawk Restaurant we picked up the TAT. Several little sandy roads connect to one another and head southwest over Crescent Cutoff, Oregon Highway 58, and Oregon Highway 138 before heading west again. This stretch of the TAT would take us through areas we had ridden last year during the Oregon Discovery Rally (ODR); however, this year we’d get to explore roads that were off-limits due to a wildland fire. Plus, we’d have a chance to see the World’s Tallest Sugar Pine.
This time, it was Kendrick’s turn in the sand. No, he didn’t dump it, he got completely stuck in it. As usual, Scott was riding lead, followed by Madelyn, and Kendrick was the sweeper. Scott had stopped at Oregon Highway 58 and Madelyn showed up soon thereafter. Scott asks, “Where’s Kendrick?” Madelyn replies, “I don’t know, last time I saw him, he told me to ride faster.”
Madelyn stayed with the bikes while Scott started walking back to find Kendrick. Scott walked and walked and walked. Three quarters of a mile later, there was Kendrick, stuck in the road. Apparently a deep sand rut had gotten the best of him, as he had augered in to being high-centered. He had removed his panniers to lighten the load and was patiently waiting for help. Yes, Kendrick required help this time. ;>) A little digging and lifting quickly brought his F800GS Adventure back to the top of the sand. This enabled him to get going and meet up with Madelyn and the bikes. Kendrick mentioned that Scott looked like he was getting fat, so a little exercise would be good for him ;>).
The TAT uses a nice series of USFS roads that go up and over Windigo Pass before it descends down to Lomolo Lake. We hadn’t seen the lake before, but had seen road signs referencing its location for years off of Oregon Highway 138. What a beautiful lake. That’s all that needs to be said.
We still had miles to ride and wanted to see that Sugar Pine, so we didn’t linger. The TAT also uses Big Camas Road, which parallels a portion of Oregon Highway 138. This is another great road. Somewhere along the way, we took a lunch break up near the top of one of the lesser passes and the vibrant blue of the Oregon summer sky is hard to describe.
This area is covered by logging roads, which can be confusing to some. Our TAT roll-charts and GPS waypoints enabled us to negotiate our route with very few issues the entire trip. Compared to other TAT rider experiences, we’d have to say that this combination of tools with the paper maps as a back-up, is hard to beat.
Riding through a burn area is a little spooky, yet magical at the same time. There’s a unique quietness that allows for a serenity not found elsewhere. Next was the Sugar Pine.
Can you say tall? How about 265′? The Tallest Sugar Pine in the world stands in all its majesty among other tall conifers and deciduous trees, yet it’s height makes the other tall trees appear almost tiny.
Kendrick had pine cone envy, but with the Sugar Pine found, and the heat of the afternoon, a catnap alongside the road was too tempting for Kendrick and Madelyn to pass up.
It had been a great riding day in the Oregon Cascades and we still needed to figure out where to spend the night. One thing we didn’t have on the trip, was a good resource for last-minute camping decisions. Having a comprehensive private / federal / state guide to campgrounds would have been extremely helpful, as we often found ourselves looking for a decent campground and not finding something until we rode past it the next day.
As such, we made our way into Canyonville and ended up getting a fantastic room at the Seven Feathers Hotel. It was less expensive than all of the nearest chain motels and the facilities were totally luxurious. We got spoiled with super comfortable beds, spa-like facilities, and A/C to take the edge off the heat often felt by this part of Oregon in summer.
Before dinner, we did a little redneck laundry, put devices on chargers, and enjoyed cleaning up with hot water and properly laundered linens. Given this was the eve before that last day of TAT riding, we were all little anxious about completing the trip and heading home as we closed our eyes.
The only lingering question was, would the last day of riding be eventful or uneventful?