Saturday, November 4, 2006

McKenzie River Trail

We were all supposed to go raft the Deschutes River this weekend but several people got sick and the large amount of rain we've been getting lately has made the river a little dangerous so we had to cancel the trip last moment.  Being that my midterms are finally over (some ugly, some ok) I was pretty excited to get away for the weekend and do something active.  Thus, I was really bummed out to hear our trip was cancelled.  Then I found myself sitting in the media lab with my friend Tiffany Gregg who suggested we go biking on Saturday instead.  Tiffany is a strong biker and I've wanted to go with her for a while now so I jumped at the chance.  We planned to get an early start around 9am and head to the McKenzie River Trail, a 25 mile long singletrack trail that follows the river and is famous for it's beauty. 
    I got a call from Tiffany around 9am and she was at my place to pick me up in her Tacoma (girls that drive trucks = mad cool) and I was informed that we had gathered more people to ride with us including Chris Holmes, who had been out last night until 4am and Pam who Chris had walked home before returning home himself.  Pam's roomate Brett came along too making 5 total.  Brett and Pam live with Ashley Hatfield who has been on several hikes with me in the past and is in previous posts.  Brett, and Pam live in the "biking" house where the captains of the bike team live and Tiffany is also on the girls cross country team here.  That meant that Chris and I were heading off to the woods with a serious crew of strong bikers... And Chris was chugging down gatorade to cure his hangover on the way to the trailhead.
    We got dropped off at Clear Lake Campground and shuttled Tiffany's truck down river to the Ranger Station near McKenzie Bridge 25 miles away.  We ended up getting started around 1:30 (late start due to a hungover morning for some.. haha) but we didn't think it would be a problem. Cimg6564
Immediately we took a wrong turn and started to make a loop around the lake but thanks to some quick thinking by Chris and Pam we found our way back to the trail.... nope... we ended up on the scenic waterfall trail meant for pedestrians, not bikes.  This was great for me because I just rocketed down the steps on my Cimg6566
plush suspension freeride Kona, while for the others it was a little more sketchy.  We even got to ride through some spectacular lava fields eraly in the ride.  Even though we were on the wrong trail we knew how to eventually hook back up to the McKenzie River Trail and we got to see some amazing waterfalls for our mistake.  It poured all day so the falls were really kickin' as well.  We ended up biking around a small resevoir and taking a connector trail to get back onto the McKenzie River Trail. 
    The McKenzie trail is by far the best mountain bike trail I have ever ridden.  It is very well maintained with plenty of bridges over streams and other hazards and besides a few technical sections through some lava outcrops (which I thoroughly enjoyed) it was fairly smooth.  I definitelyCimg6574
plan on heading back to the trail when I get a helmet cam down the road to get some video of it.  I took a bunch of pics throughout the day but since it was pouring my camera was getting pretty wet and I had to pack it away eventually.  Biking through the rainforest with steam coming off us and everything around us was amazing.  I had gore-tex pants on and a waterproof top but was eventually soaked like everyone else.  We stopped at a large bluish green pool of water which caught my Cimg6579
attention because there was  a fairly large stream pouring out of it but no stream pouring into it????  I inquired and was told by Pam and Chris that the McKenzie River actually dives undground in several areas through ancient lava tubes!  Later I asked Jason about what I saw and hes said that it was a giant spring.  Either way it was pretty damn impressive.  It was there that Chris had the quote of the day.  He was sucking on his camelbak tube and got a wierd face.  When I inquired he looked up and said, "shit, I think my tea bag just blew up".  hahaha.  He had put a tea bag in his camelbak for some reason, but it was the way he casually said it that was hilarious.
    I found a new appreciation for my Kona as well.  It ate up any terrain that was thrown my way with the big shocks and biking cross country wasn't that bad with it. Perhaps down the road in a few years I'll trade it in for a truly cross country bike but for now I think I'll keep the heavy rig and continue to build up my leg strength. 
    Towards the end of the ride as it was getting really dark and too hard to see my legs began to really feel it and then painfully cramped up like rocks.  The only thing I had eaten all day was a halfCimg6577
bowl of cereal before Tiffany had picked me up... bad choice.  I was exhausted but thankfully after chugging a ton of water from my camelbak and a tasty powerbar from Brett I was able to finish out the trip without too much trouble and pain.  We had to duck out of the woods a few miles early because it was getting too dark to safely see the trail ahead of us and I was the only one with a headlamp.  As soon as we got on the road the "true" bikers rallied into a pack and left Chris and I in the dust!  Chris and I took our time and met up with the group about 10 minutes later at Tiffany's truck for the very squished ride back East to Pam's car.
    We ended up getting dinner at a Mexican joint on the way home at which we all gorged ourselves.  It was a very exhausting ride for me but the best and most beautiful I've done in a long, long time.  We were the only ones on the trail all day (odd for it being a Sat), and I can't wait to go back in the spring with sunny weather to take more photos and the right trail at the beginning.  After worrying that my Saturday would be ruined when rafting was cancelled I actually ended up having the best trip I've done yet in Oregon!


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