It’s January, not really a time we think of camping in the forest. But our winters are mild enough that we can sometimes get out and play in the trees without the overhead of snow or rain.

We drove out to Estacada to avoid all the messiness that is riding in SE Portland. It’s not horrible, but it’s not all that fun anymore. Traffic is heavier, louder, and more people are feeling entitled to let loose their rage upon the road. So rather than tempt fate we just opted to drive out and focus on having fun in our travels.

The weather was a bit on the chilly side, but it was really the headwind from the south that was cooling us down and slowing our journey. We’ve had worse, but this was an additional challenge we hadn’t expected after all the times we’ve ridden down this way.

Traffic on 224 was pretty mild, road closure south of Ripplebrook, but the amount of traffic headed that way made me think the road was open.

We stopped for lunch near Big Eddy. I got my usual picture at “Lazy Bend”.

We even crossed the river at some point to explore a bit of road that has been closed for some time. I had driven that bit way back in 2007 or so, but don’t recall much about it. It ended up being all up-hill into a section of forest that hasn’t seen much traffic due to part of the road being washed out and visibly unstable. We turned around after about a mile or so while discussing a return trip to ride it as a day ride.

We lucked out and arrived at the Ripplebrook Guard station before it closed and bought some firewood. I was sure we should scavenge from deadfall in the area, but nice dry wood would go a long way in help us stay warm in camp. I had to get a little creative in carrying my share of wood as I didn’t have a flat rack to mount it.

As we arrived at Rainbow Campground, there were a couple of dog-walkers but they cleared out within a few minutes leaving the entire campground to just the two of us.

Everything was wet, cold, and the wind was still cutting through in gusts enough to keep us bundled up.

We picked out a site for the fire, got unpacked, and started our respective dinners. Getting the fire going with the purchased wood was incredibly easy, but adding all the damp branches we found scattered about made for a challenging build up. We eventually got a very hot fire going to keep us warm for a few hours, our faces burning while our back sides froze.

My Shelter for the Night

I slept pretty well with my ad-hoc shelter, the large logs helped block the wind and keep the tarp from flapping around. It was a little cramped as I couldn’t sit up, but I slept warm enough to feel rested and ready to ride home.

The Big Cliffs of the Clackamas River

Our ride back to Estacada was about as pleasant as could be. The sun to our backs, downhill (mostly), and temperatures starting to warm up.

We had a trouble-free ride, felt good, and reconnected to an area that helped me fall in love with Oregon. See you next time!

-Tomas

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