Brace yourself, get some popcorn and maybe a beer or two. Because this is going to be an action-filled blog!
Fair warning though, bicycle touring by itself is (most of the time) pretty uneventful, it's basically an endless cycle of: eat, cycle, eat, sleep, repeat. So don't expect action movie "action" or anything. Ok, we just mean to say that some stuff happened... Happy now?
Ok, let's backflip/ninja kick/parachuteless parachute jump into the action!
With renewed energy we started our adventure in the "lower 48" as they would say in Alaska. From Seattle we would go around Mt. Rainier (which is such an impressive mountain, go look it up right now and then come back to finish this blog!) and join a bicycle route called the "Sierra Cascadas". This route runs kind of parallel to the Pacific Crest Trail (a famous long-distance hiking trail), this means that there were going to be some nice views. But you'll have to work for them, because there is A LOT of climbing on this route.
We really enjoyed cycling through the endless national forests in Oregon. The roads were very quite, the trees were massive and some were covered in long moss, which made it almost look like the scenery from a fairy tale or an epic scene from The Lord of The Rings. But even though we were working really hard for these nice views, we didn't always get them. There were a lot of wildfires in the area which made the skies very smokey and hazy...
In case you didn't notice, this is the kind of action you can expect in this blog. We told you it wouldn't be super exciting.
One day we were cruising down this loooong downhill to arrive at a T-crossing. We needed to go left over a hill towards Detroit lake where we would find a camping spot somewhere. There were two motorcyclists there, they told us that the road was closed ahead towards Detroit lake... Of course.
There is this psychological term called: plan continuation bias. Which is just a fancy phrase to say that when people make a plan, they tend to stick with it. Also when the plan turns out to be a shitty plan or when there are obstacles in their way, people tend to develop a kind of tunnel vision, only seeing their plan and don't consider other possibilities. Luckily we learned about this in a podcast, so for us this wasn't a problem.
We had three options:
1) go back the way we came and go along the highway. This meant cycling a loooong (20km) uphill.
2) go right instead of left. That would take us in the complete other direction, which would add at least two days to our trip.
3) go left anyway and have tunnel vision.
We went with the third option. BUT... we had a plan B in case we really couldn't go through to Detroit Lake. We would go back a little bit and take another way towards the first option. Eventually, when we arrived at the road closure (only a 16km climb...), we could go around it and ride the closed road. Yes, we are pretty bad-ass!
That was already a little more action. We're building up towards the climax.
Apparently wild camping is allowed on National Forest land. That's great, because Oregon has a lot of that. As we made our way South through these beautiful forests, we tried to stay away from the highway as much as possible. For one, they were very busy (so also a little dangerous) and you usually get better views when taking the road less traveled. That philosophy got us onto a national Forest development road, which was an absolute nightmare... Despite the road only being 6km long, it was the worst we ever did. It was completely loose sand, about mid-shoe dept, so it was impossible to cycle. We had to push the bikes, but because of the sand it was hard to steer them and pushing heavily loaded bikes in general is just exhausting!
Eventually, after a 3 hour hike-a-bike through hell, we reached the end! We just wanted to set up camp, eat and sleep. But there was a big campground there (where you're not allowed to wild camp), so we figured to just set up camp right next to the campground. No harm done, right?
Wrong... We had set up our camp: pitched the tent, inflated sleeping pads, put out sleeping bags, cooked dinner, taken a lake shower,... You know, the whole thing. Afterwards, we were chilling in our kick-ass camping chairs, the sun was almost setting. When suddenly a guy pulls up in a golf cart and says we couldn't camp there... So we quickly packed up our stuff and went to look for new camping spot, in the dark.
That was some more action already. Still building up though, so hang in there!
Like we said above, Oregon was basically one big bonfire. From a town called Sisters we climbed another mountain, ended up on another national forest development road (this one was pretty ok!). We ended up on the pavement on the other side of the mountain, glad we could enjoy some downhill. All of a sudden, a ranger pull over and asks us where we're going. "You're not going South on this road are you" He asked. Well, yes we are... "Nope, you can't go that way, this road is closed because of the big wildfire. You'll have to go back over the mountain and go around on the highway. " He explained to us.
Well that sucked! The next day we rode again over the the mountain (on pavement this time) towards Sun River. There we hoped to hitch a ride towards Beaver Marsh and get to Crater Lake the day after. We had no luck catching a ride with someone... A few people stopped, but they were all going North. So we cycled a little bit further. In the end we took a bus towards Beaver Marsh, it cost 36 dollars. But Jesse found 20 dollars on the ground, so that worked out pretty well.
Ok, we hope you have some popcorn left. Because we're at the highpoint of bicycle touring action now!
Imagine you've been cycling on a gradual climb up a mountain the whole day. You reached the place where you wanted to camp, there turns out be a spot where you can actually camp and it's right next to a lake. You eat, you take a wash in the lake and you relax a little bit before heading in the tent for the night. That sounds pretty nice, right? No action so far...
We were sleeping, when Fien hears a rustling besides the tent. Not far from where our bikes were standing. She poked Jesse in the ribs and he wakes up peacefully (not...). We shine our lamp outside, only to find a raccoon climbing into Jesse's bike... He had left his panniers open and the raccoon was feasting on some wraps.
We shout a little bit, it doesn't really care. So Jesse gets out of the tent, shining the lamp on it the whole time. It couldn't care less. So Jesse emerges his caveman instincts and picks up some rocks and start throwing them at the raccoon. Finally, something that works. After five minutes of rock throwing, the raccoon decides that his feast was over and runs away. It didn't come back.
The next day, we reached the first highlight of "take 2" in our USA action movie bicycle trip: Crater Lake. It. Was. Stunning! We spend some hours there taking in the views, before heading down the mountain. We were planning on wild camping somewhere (far away from a campground and with the panniers closed), but when we stopped at the Mazana Campground to refill our water bottles a guy came up to us and asked if we had a place to stay. He than offered to share his camp site for the night! To Liam, if you are reading this, thank you for the awesome evening. Good luck and perhaps more importantly: have fun in college!!
Phew! That was a lot of action for one blog. Right now we are heading West towards the coast, which we will follow towards San Francisco.