Bend OR- Stop 3 Mountain Flyer content trip April 2012

so where were we…?  Middle of the desert.. check…    Riding bikes… check.   Eating delicious meals prepared in the middle of nowhere with friends… check.   No wait, we were putting down miles and getting to somewhere ELSE to ride bikes, right?

Yes, yes, of course…  We were loading back up and pulling out of SnowBowl just outside Elko, and marveling at the scenery, somehow magically devoid of tree’d-matter, when we incited yet another iPhone-powered search for yet ANOTHER burrito-experience.  

Thwarted by a botched-turn, a misinterpreted iPhone directive, and then a decision to go ‘grocery’ on our lunch-programme, we redirected towards a grocery store, where we proceeded to stuff coolers and my fridge with salad-matter, fruits and juices, ripped the vehicles apart in the parking lot, and prepared lunches on the spot and promptly sat down to enjoy.  

Gassed and gone shortly thereafter, we made Bend Oregon our evening target… setting a course upon the road less-traveled, and making our way North from hwy 225>205 straight up through southern Oregon.  Desolate-travel defines us. Interstate travel is best-suited for mini-vans-laden with tantrum-prone toddlers with a hasty-destination, piloted by unimaginative parents guided by needs dictated by frequent food and bathroom-stops.  

We on the other hand, are out to inhale scenic vistas.  To drink in the very essence of the country-side is our purpose.  Connecting on a deeper level with the primordial  scents of landscape, the gentle patina of light upon textures carved by the hands of time, observing life distilled to basics hues and gradients demarcating ingress and egress of day.  We took on the role of observers, punctuating our recreation with deliberate movements across the geographic foundation of our country; the space which defines our place in the world as ‘americans’, as it were. 

Southern Oregon passed as a great expanse of desert, eroding into high-desert punctuated by mountainous-features of which subsequently gave way to a lake-district about the time our daylight was to expire.  Another gas-stop and the final push on to Bend, with a dinner-meal passing in the form of snacks and bars taken-on at the helm,  headlights stabbing into another traffic-less evening across the lonely landscape. 

Bend came around midnight once again (slightly before this time, actually), the final approach entailed dropping down out of the darkness towards the twinkle of incandescent civilization.  Quick work was made of some brief urban navigation taking us to the south and west of town and straight to the trailhead whereupon we made our home for the evening. Phil’s trail was the subject of interest for the morning, and the cloak of darkness obscured what would provide an even greater source of interest than one single-trail could hope to provide. 

0600hrs came quickly, with the air being shredded by the barking of a startled and somewhat antagonistic dog having discovered Michael sleeping on the ground between his truck and mine.  I struggled with the urge to rise, prepare food, and explore immediate surroundings.  I attempted to will the dog away, and to my horror, i heard more and more vehicles making their approach, yet more dogs, and then heard footfalls of runners.  Runners?  Do they KNOW what time it is?  I remembered our proximity to Bend and connected the dots: Runners are obsessive and the fanatics tend to run early. We were close to a super-fit community.  Things weren’t going to get better. 

Indeed they weren’t.  The parking lot population swelled to critical mass, and by 0700 or so, it was time to succumb to the urge to rise. Or maybe it was 0800?

We were up and burning daylight already.   A quick poke about revealed that we had not one trail to explore, but about 8, all departing from the epicenter where we found ourselves parked. No wonder the place was reaching fever-pitch at such an early hour. 

The network of trails we’d ‘discovered’, connected what was a veritable spiderweb of a playground, connected by well-marked and immaculately maintained, seemingly endless singletrack.  

It was time for Brian to do some work on one of his bikes in the parking-area while the group fed on their assorted breakfasts’ of choice, and prepared for exploration. 

What began innocently enough as a quick pedal out of the parking lot, turned into a bit of a full-scale pump/rhythm-track session.  Immediately out of the gate, we’d discovered what’s probably the best-maintained pump-park, dirt-jump area, and slopestyle/slalom park, perhaps anywhere.   Antics ensued, and for a while, the mission was scrapped for the sake of some play; burning off the pent-up energy from logging tedious miles behind wheels of our mechanical carriages. 

With a ride-guide spot looking inevitable, our need to survey more than just the ‘slope-park’ was a given.  Singletrack abounded, yet we remained somewhat fixated on the siren-song of the ridiculously well-maintained slope-park and pump/DJ sections so invitingly-close to the parking-area.   

Having forgot to fire up Strava (our ride-logging GPS-mapping app), some further research will be required to map out exactly what went down after our departure from the ‘slalom-park’.  What we DID find was out of this world.  Serpentine loamy slices of heaven, connected by sections of stimulating yet minimal climbing, idyllically-spaced trees split with the passage of human-powered breezes that carried us through the conifer-forest, twisting and turning our way to bliss as we linked trails together in a way i’ve not been afforded opportunity to enjoy the like of elsewhere, perhaps ever. 

Comically, we’d not even scratched the surface of what was on-offer in the area. A revisit was immediately suggested for the return route to include a hit on the Mackenzie River Trail and perhaps another that was mentioned by some trail-runners we’d encountered on the trail).  

Sad to see vehicle roof-tops in the distance through the trees as we cranked between the last quarter-mile of perfectly-radius’d turns, we knew we’d return to explore more in the area within the next week.  Hi-5’s were given back in the parking lot, and stoke ran high as we realized we’d encountered yet another amazing destination along our route. 

Packed and ready to roll, we pulled out of Bend to address our last concerning chunk of mileage we needed to put behind us to see us into Port Angeles for the weekend.   Directing our attention to the North, we saw our entourage head across yet another Indian Reservation, across the foot Mt Hood shrouded in dense cloud, then down the other side towards PDX and back into non-rainy climes. We gathered for a re-fueling before addressing the tangle of Portland, where we also arrived at the conclusion that in order to properly celebrate our official arrival to the PNW, we needed to celebrate properly with the ingestion of some fish.  

We pushed thru PDX and across the border where the search off i-5 was intensified.  iPhones were out, and passengers in Michael’s vehicle were combing the internet for a suitable first-stop for local fish-sampling.  Just when desperation was setting in and i almost cracked into what surely would’ve been the Big100 bar to send me over the edge, we pulled off the hwy and through Ridgefield, where #Pacific Northwest Best Fish Company greeted us with open arms.  

THE B E S T.   SOOoooooOoO welcome!  Fish was embraced… we dined spectacularly outdoors upon the finest halibut, calamari steaks and whatever else we could source from the award-winning menu, taking in the cool moist Washington air, and reveling in the trillion shades of green that greeted our eyes everywhere we looked across the countryside.  We took in the essence of what was presented: fish, lush greenery, coastal-aire, and a serenity brought about by knowing that we were rapidly approaching our destination for the weekend.  

A scant few-remaining hours of car-time would see the crew arriving in Port Angeles and me in Seattle for meetings; going our separate ways for 24hours, but re-uniting after my quick run into the more-formal commercial/business-world. 

A weekend filled with race-reportage, more photo and video updates, blogging and tweeting and nights dining and sleeping under the stars with dear friends lays ahead. 

Perhaps we can include you on our journey?  More to follow in the coming days!

-AW