NOTE: I’m going to have to come back and finish this write up at a later date.
There’s still so much of the Pacific Northwest I would love to see, starting with more of Central Oregon. The high desert exposes some amazing landscapes of mesas, rock formations, canyons, and beautiful sunsets to sunrises. I can see how it would inspire countless artists to create their works, write books, and compose music.
For Memorial weekend, some friends and I would be spending a long weekend riding the Central Oregon Backcountry Explorer as found on Bikepacking.com
We all met at the RWGPS office to leave a bit early. There was a bit of rain through the day and the threat of rain along our route the entire weekend. We all piled into the car and headed out for a 3 hour drive to Prineville.
While driving around Mt Hood, we did get dumped on quite a bit alarming us that we might get rained on during the trip. Not ideal, but whatever, we’ll deal.
We all stayed at the Rustler’s Inn (highly recommended) so that we could get an early start. Audrey was up and out by 4am to go birding with friends, but I slept another 2 hours before heading out the door.
We filled ourselves with a very large breakfast at the infamous Apple Peddler in preparation for the day.
Day 1 – Prineville to Burnt Ranch
After grabbing some last minute supplies we started out for the day. It was sunny and a tad bit on the cool side. After a few rolling miles it became a long climb into the forest pavement finally turned to gravel. Being a holiday weekend, we did find a number of campers in the Forest, many with ATVs, large pick up trucks, and the opposite of peace and quiet. Not really our scene, so we were going to spend the day heading to Burnt Ranch to sleep by the water.
After 23 miles or so, the pavement finally turned into gravel. Our preferred surface to ride which helps reduce the number of vehicles that pass along the day. It was refreshing to spend part of the day riding through the tunnel of trees, birds all over, the sounds of nature all around only ocassionally punctured by the screech of an ATV.
We filtered some water on the way down.
Day 2 – Something Ranch to Mitchell’s
It was a rough night’s sleep with wind and light rain through the night. We rolled as it was overcast. Light rain as we approached the Painted Hills. We opted for the short walk to the view point, grabbed some photos, then over to the oasis for a bathroom break and a light snack.
It wasn’t a long right over to Mitchell where we checked into the Spoken Hostel.
We grabbed lunch over the local brew pub. A group of other cyclists came through but they were heading passed Mitchell for the day. they got caught in a heavy rain.
AJ and I grabbed a milkshake then headed back to the hostel to hang for a bit. We all took a turn in the shower which felt amazing. They weren’t sure if there would be room for us as some long distance were going to be cutting through during the night and all the bunks might be used. As we watched the track leaders site, we were sure they wouldn’t all be coming in that night. They had left at 5am that morning and it was already 250+ miles to the hostel. It has started pouring as the sun went down. By 9pm or so the first racer came in, soaked to the bone and eager for warmth and food. In all, 3 racers came through the night to get a few hours of sleep. Brad hung his hammock in the back yard while AJ and I grabbed bunks. Slept like the dead. Didn’t even hear the racers get up and head out.
The Hostel is such an interesting place. Bunch of bunks, some basic supplies by donatin, and a crew that is so eager to chat about bike trips and anything else under the sun.
Day 3 – Mitchell to Prineville
After getting breakfast at the cafe, we packed up, watched another racer come in, and said our goodbyes.
Coming out of Mitchell, it was a long winding climb up the Ochoco Mountain.
We got a few drizzles here and there, but it just stayed on the cool side. Nothing too cold, but warm enough we didn’t need to layer up.
There was a bit of snow along the top of the route, but nothing that we couldn’t wade through or ride over.
After making up to the top, it was a slow descent for few miles as we had some snow to roll over.