In preparation for a much longer, more challenging route, I wanted to get a shakedown ride under my tires. I had everything I needed for a bikepacking trip all ready to go but didn’t know if anything was going to fall off or behave in some other unexpected way. So, for the holiday weekend, my partner and I decided to head to Cabin Lake for a couple of nights.

Newberry Crater was on the way so we stopped by for a night of rustic camping, then while she went birding for a few hours, I took a lap around the Crater Rim Trail.

I found the route using MTB Project then did some more research on Ride with GPS to see if it had been ridden recently. Everything was lining up great so away I go!

Starting in the parking lot, I had all my bikepacking gear and food loaded onto my mountain bike. The sun was already out and beaming on my exposed skin. It was going to be a warm day.

The trail didn’t start immediately from the parking lot, I had to ride on the road for a little bit then some dirt road to begin climbing. Just a couple of miles into the trek, I was gifted a great view of mountains and surrounding plains.

After a short while, I found the singletrack entrance and started with some rolling climbs and even some spots of snow!

All through the ride, the bike handled well, geared for every climb to come my way, and nothing fell off. It felt great to be in the trees and only have the sound of my bike and chirping of birds to keep me company.

Everything about this trail is nice. It’s well kept, not too many hikers this time of year, and no mud at all.

As I reached the 6-o’clock position of the loop, I took a moment to relish in the view of obsidian fields and lakes below.

As I continued onto the trail and got to the eastern side of the loop I started to come across some trees that had fallen during the winter and not yet cleared from the trail. No problem. All the trees were small and really no higher than my knees.

By the time I completed about half the route, I realized that I had only seen maybe 5 people so far. Either they drove by on the road or were at a trail head as it intersected with a dirt road.

LOVED IT.

The rim is a volcanic crater, so naturally there is crushed pumice and basalt everywhere. The pumice gave the sand a terracotta hue and contrasted nicely with the surrounding landscape. I was in heaven.

As I started the last quarter of the trail back to the parking lot, I spied movement about 100-feet ahead. Deer? No, it’s grey. Huskey? No…it was thin and darted back into the woods. That was a wolf! It was too large to be a coyote and there was nobody around walking a husky. I later confirmed with a ranger that there had recently been wolf sightings not too far away. It was a pretty good chance that it was indeed a wolf. Yes! A wolf on the trail!

The last few miles flew by as I decended into the crater edge and to the main parking lot. I saw one more hiker on the trail and gave a quick ‘howdy’ as I flew passed.

After a few miles of bumps and the parking lot in sight, I realized that my camera bag was still open and the camera was missing! Aaaaaah!

I quickly turned around and started back up the hill scanning the trail as quickly and thoroughly as I could. The camera was kind of small and black, and with the speeds I was traveling downhill it could have bounced off trail and never seen again.

Eventually I came across the hiker I had last seen on my descent. Immediately she held out the camera and put my mind at ease. Wow. That was a close call. I was so happy she spotted it and picked it up for me. I was not prepared to lose all the neat photos I had taken and re-imburse my work for losing a company camera.

After giving many thanks to the good samaritan, I finished the last 2 miles with the camera secured extra tight. This would be a harsh lesson for any future adventures.

Only a few hours after taking off on my own, I was back in the parking lot with Audrey loading up the car and preparing to drive a few more hours south to cabin lake. Despite the scare of losing the camera, it was a most excellent day.

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