Eastern Oregon Bike Tour: Day 2

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Start: Clear Lake, Mt Hood National Forest
End: Smith Rock State Park
Miles Biked: 78
Money?: $5 for camping

I was on a mission today: make it to Smith Rock with enough time to go hiking. Even though I’d been twice before–two very, very short trips–I was excited to stay there overnight and have a chance to really settle into some quality play time. So with that in mind, today’s biking felt a little more like a commute than a tour. I didn’t really wander; I didn’t explore; I just wanted to make it to Smith Rock and spend my exploring time there.

Aside from the fact that I was trying to get quickly to a specific place, today’s ride felt like a commute also because the riding conditions were not too amenable to joyride. Though I left early–packed up and on the road by 7:30; it’s easy to get up early when you’re in a tent–by 9 or 9:30, traffic was whizzing along at a pretty good clip. And like yesterday, it was loud, fast, and full of large trucks.

As you know, I am not squeamish about traffic. On the spectrum of biking confidence, I’d rate myself as pretty damn confident, and pretty sure of myself and my rights on the road. That being said, I think this was one of the more frightening days of biking I’ve had. As I wrote that evening in my journal, “I flinched an awful lot today as truck draft flipped my jacket up my back, or as impending tire roar seemed so very close. This road is not for the faint of heart.”

It’s too bad, because it’s actually a really pretty ride.

(the Warm Springs Reservation and this part along the Deschutes River were my favorites of the day)

Since I basically didn’t stop, I made it to Smith Rock with plenty of time left in the day. Of course, about half an hour before I got there it started dumping on me, which gave me a great opportunity to set my tent up in the rain. Which I hate. BUT since this new tent of mine is amazing, I discovered that I could put up the rain fly first and sort of fill in the tent underneath it. Amazingly successful! My stuff stayed dry! And it was a good trick to figure out, since I ended up using it a few more times on the rest of this trip.

And Smith Rock? Amazing. Despite the intermittent monsoon, I had an absolutely lovely time hiking around, scoping out the wildlife, scrambling on rocks, and even just sitting quietly in nature. Perhaps it’s cheating to put this picture up here since it’s actually from the morning of my third day (when it was actually sunny again), but check it: Smith Rock is astounding:

(and morning is such a nice time to be out:)

The camping at Smith Rock is also amazing. It’s all walk-in camping, so, basically, one huge hiker/biker site. You pay your $5 fee and then it’s a choose-your-own adventure of where in the “bivouac area” (basically a big area behind a fence) to set up your tent. I found this happy little spot:


…which was somewhat close to other people but not oppressively so. It’s fun too because most people who camp there are there to climb, so there’s a happy little ad hoc climbing community who hangs out together, charges their electronics at the few plugs by the bathrooms, commiserates over the showers that are solar and thus mostly cold at night or in the morning when people want them, and eats together in the separate cooking area. It’s lovely.

I truly did wear myself out today, which was a good and somewhat unusual feeling. With the straight biking and then a looong hike without too much food in between, I was pretty done by the time I lay down to sleep. But that’s how you know it’s been a good day, right? Asleep right as you hit the pillow…

(and, of course, more adventure pictures here)

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