Day 7 – Hart Mountain Spring to Frenchglen

A chronicle of my 7-day ride of the Oregon’s Big Country route.

I slept decently at Hart Mountain Springs campground. Although there were quite a few people there, it was rather quiet by 10pm. Also, I was dead tired and didn’t wake at all until sun up. I didn’t go for a dip in the hot springs as planned, there were just too many people there already so I decided to get going.

After filling up on oatmeal and nutella, I headed out for what would be “all downhill” route to Frenchglen.

Instead of filtering from Guano Creek at Hart Mountain, I was able to get a few litres of fresh water from a ranger station just a few miles away from the campground. Tank water never tasted so good! It was a nice change from the weird tasting reservoir water.

The route was all wide open, no trees, and mile after mile of washboard surrounded by plains of sagebrush, tumbleweed and sand. Although I was going “downhill” the progress was still slow as the washboard kept my speed low and the loose gravel on my toes to keep from washing out.

There really wasn’t anything all the memorable about the route other than I could watch Steens mountain creep into view and Hart Mountain slowly fade behind me.

But there were 3 times I heard this loud BOOM that was too loud and low to be firearms or fireworks. I was convinced the first time it was an explosion like blasting for a mine, but there was nothing on the horizon. The second time it happened, I noticed it was followed by the sound of a jet that faded into the distance but I never saw it. The third time it happened the boom was again followed by the sound of a jet. I was hearing sonic booms!

Along the way to Frenchglen, the terrain flattened out a bit and my cell signal got better. I started texting Audrey a bit as she was monitoring my Spot Tracker like a hawk since the incident the day before.

After about 6 hours or so, I finally hit some pavement again. Immediately I missed the crunch of gravel under my tires and loathed the passing of high speed vehicles. I wasn’t ready to deal with traffic again.

It wasn’t long after that I finally finished the last climb of the whole trip then descended right next to the Frenchglen Hotel.

My ride was over. I was thirsty, hungry, and eager to sleep in my own bed. I didn’t waste any time packing up the bike, slamming some gatorade and starting the long drive home.

After 6.5 hours of driving, a shower, and quick chat with Audrey in person. I was done. Home. And in my own bed.

Despite the lack of excitement through the day, it was still a good day. Good ride. Epic.

-Tomas

2 Comments

  1. Tomas – I enjoyed your writeup. A friend and I recently rode the Hart Sheldon route so it was nice to relive our experiences through your eyes and keen camera lens. My summary is here, http://www.oregonbikepacking.com/forums/topic/may-16-19-2019-hart-sheldon/. I think we are luck to be a part of a pretty select club that have ridden this countryside.

    Kudos to you for being so prepared and able to handle the day six challenges so admirably. As we struggled through some adverse conditions, a lot of what-ifs ran through my mind. Well you took some serious what-ifs right in stride.

    PS – If you go back for your shoes and bladder, please pick up our water filter. It is at the top of the grade along 140 west of the Virgin Valley.

    Pete

  2. I found this site after all the news coverage. I’ve greatly enjoyed reading about your trek through the old stomping grounds of my younger days.

    In June of 1992 my friend (now deceased) and I were headed west from Freachglen to the Hart Mountain Hot spring campground. It was late afternoon. On the rough, washboarded stretch inside the refuge, we got a flat tire. Finding that the spare was flat, and not having seen another car all day, we figured it would be morning, at least, before another car came along. We fired up the charcoal grill and prepared to spend the night in the middle of the road. Then, surprise! We watched a cyclist approach. This kind man had a manual tire pump. We three took turns getting enough air in the tire to get us to the campground. The next day we were able to fully inflate the tire at the refuge headquarters.

    I will never forget driving to the campground in the desert twilight, as a shimmering red moon rose like an orb low over the plain, and my friend riding on the tailgate of my pick-up holding the glowing grill. May God bless that cyclist, where ever he is this day.

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