Mountain Bike-Packing in Oregon

In late August/early September, I traveled with a friend to Central Oregon for two weeks of mountain bike-packing. Mountain biking was my first real passion.  When I was a kid, I would build trails through the woods in my backyard, grab my Huffy and ride them back and forth all day.  In high school, I would ride my bike miles to my friend’s houses.  I escaped the stress of college by riding the trails behind my dormitory.  Within the last ten years, however, rock and ice climbing distracted me from my bike.  I’ve spent many days and nights in mountain ranges all over the country climbing or simply backpacking.  I had never gone on a multi-day trip with my bike.  Here on the east coast, it’s hard to piece together a mountain bike trip as the trails are confined to one area in twisting and looping singletrack that lead you right back to where you started.  When I was researching this trip, I discovered that out west, one can travel for many miles, across states, almost entirely on dirt.  We decided on Central Oregon, a place we’ve both never been, and planned out a 300 mile loop with over 100 of those miles on classic, high quality singletrack.  I turned 40 this year, I was excited to pay tribute to my love for mountain biking which initially brought me into the woods, a sport that eventually led to my discovery of the mountains and my place in this world.

 I had gone back and forth as to whether to bring my camera.  I knew I’d eventually decide to bring it, but the focus was on riding, navigating and camping each day.  I only brought my 18-55mm/3.5-5.6G kit lens which, on my Nikon DX body, was very limiting.  Our route started and ended in Bend.  We’d pass through arid scrubland, pine forests, on the banks of crystal clear blue lakes, lush river valleys, old growth forests, mountain ridges, lava fields and crater rims.  All the while, glaciated volcanic peaks rose above us.  The variety of the environments we biked through was jaw-dropping and the scenery was equal to that.  If I could, I would have spent a month biking that same route and spending days with all my camera equipment capturing sunrises, sunsets and everything in between.  

Here are some images I did capture along the way. 

Hot, arid, pine forests.

My bike and my bags.

One of the many forest roads which linked our singletrack routes.

Dust, a lot of dust.

Sharing the trail with horses.

The top of MacArthur Rim.

We stayed in a few established campsites.

A little color in the brown and green world.

Three Creek Lake at sunset.

Making our way through the high forests to the town of Sisters.

Evidence of many past fires.

Views of the Sisters volcanos through the wildfire haze.

On the Metolius-Windingo singletrack

In Skylight Cave.

Along the forest roads near Mt. Washington.

Clear Lake.

Riding around Clear Lake.

Lava flows on the McKenzie River Trail.

Negotiating huge fallen trees wasn’t always this easy.

One of the many spectacular waterfalls.

Big trees along the McKenzie trail.

Reminiscent of a tropical forest.

The McKenzie River

Some of our pavement miles weren’t so bad either.

The Alpine trail through old growth Douglas Fir stands.

Views from the Alpine Trail.

Campfire on the shores of Betty Lake.

My hammock and home for 12 days.

Among tall trees.

Small waterfall as we work our way up to Newbury Crater.

Twin falls.

Volcanic desert.

View of the Sisters volcanos from the road up to Paulina Peak.

On the summit of Paulina Peak.

On the shores of East Lake Resort.

The Obsidian Lava Flow off Paulina Peak.

Timer release photo of me next to the lava flow.

Singletrack along the rim of Newbury Crater.

The last day with just a few more miles to go.

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