Day 10 – July 29th – Roseburg to Diamond Lake – 142 kms
Just as I thought, today was uphill. The first half of the day was a gradual uphill and the rest involved some steeper grades – made more challenging by heat similar to yesterday’s. I arrived at the campground absolutely bushed; I had doubts whether I would make it over the last 20 kms – only Basil’s nagging kept me going! I’m sure glad that I started early this morning – I was on the road at 6:00 a.m., and it was not too hot until after about 10:30 a.m. when the sun got higher. A lot of my earlier riding today was also blessed by shade from the larger trees along this route. And talk about this route! It is easy to see why it is designated one of Oregon’s “Scenic Byways.” It is a real “purdy rowt,” as one fellow explained to me last night as I waited for my pizza. And quite true, it is very pretty and pleasant riding, with low traffic volume. Just the heat made it more demanding today – but 100 degree temperatures make any bicycle riding challenging – even more so with 45 lbs of gear hanging on the bike!
Well, Roseburg was at 500 ft elevation, and now I’m about a mile high at somewhere around 5200 ft. The campground is virtually deserted though – two reasons…
a) Diamond Lake is toxic with an algae bloom, so no swimming etc.
b) There are two forest fires that just started from lightning strikes, one 15 miles north and another at 15 miles northwest and they are expecting hundreds of firefighters in this area tonight. After talking to some of the firefighter’s supply crew at the store here in Diamond Lake, it seems that they are confident that the fires will be under control very quickly as no high winds are forecast. Nevertheless, more lightning is forecast for Thursday and Friday which could create more wildfires. There shouldn’t be any problem with my destination of Crater Lake tomorrow though, and I will not be returning via any fire routes – hopefully, keep yer fingers and everything else crossed!
What a good deal for camping here at the south end of the lake – the hiker/biker sites are free – can’t argue with that! And it’s not far to the store for a cold beer either – Mmmm, that’ll go down nice with dinner tonight!
Day 11 – July 30th – Diamond Lake to Mazama Village –
Crater Lake National Park – 78 kms
The ride to the north entrance of the park involved a short climb on Highway 138; once through the gate of the park there is another climb and then the road flattens out a bit and runs through a pumice desert that was created when the volcano erupted. After that, the road goes up and up!
But what a spectacular sight to see this huge body of water nestled in the caldera of Mount Mazama, which erupted about 7,000 years ago and then collapsed within itself leaving a void which filled with water and formed “Crater Lake.” It really is breathtaking and very much worthwhile all the extra effort climbing the hills to get here. I decided to take the longer route around Rim Drive to get to the campground at Mazama Village. Talk about hills! The sights from Rim Drive are wonderful, but what a hilly road – perhaps some of the hardest climbs of my whole trip were in that 40 km partial loop. I still have about 20 kms left to complete the loop, which will happen when I leave the park. Rim Drive itself is quite the sight, as in places the road drops off towards the caldera and lake, then in other places the road drops off towards the mountain side of Mount Mazama. It’s a strange feeling to ride around the top of a mountain! Lots of rock-falls along the route too, in many places there are huge divots in the asphalt where large rocks have fallen off the sheer cliffs that line the roadway periodically.
There was no water anywhere on the loop, but fortunately for me, a couple parked at one of the lookouts had some to spare. There were in a car, but are avid cyclists who took the water along on their drive – just in case some other cyclist might need it. Good for them, and very lucky for me to come across them. I chatted with them for a short while – in between gulps of cool water – boy that tasted good and refreshing! They told me that they were camped at the campground that I was heading for; I managed to find a site where I’m camped directly across from them (Barry & Melanie) – I’ll go chat later! As it happens, it was a coincidence that I picked this spot – I picked it for the location of the (only) bear bin, which just happens to be on Barry and Melanie’s site!
So, not too many miles today, but lots of climbing – any sane person would have ridden Rim Drive unloaded – I did say “sane” though, didn’t I! The bad part is that Mazama Campground is 1,000 ft below the north junction where I entered the park. And although my riding took me to almost 8,000 ft today, I’m camped at 6,100 ft. Hence when I leave, it won’t all be a downhill ride! Mind you, it never is, is it?
Well, I’ve ridden quite hard without a break to get here, so I think that tomorrow will be a laze around day off. The temperatures today were still soaring and there seems to be no break in sight, other than a vague possibility of thunderstorms. So that’s it, no riding tomorrow. Mazama campground is 5 kms south of Rim Drive and part of Mazama Village, where there is a small general store and other services to keep everyone happy. I can see lounging over a newspaper with a coffee not being too hard to take in the morning!
I’d just vacuumed down a fair amount of food, when Barry wandered over with their (substantial quantity of) stir-fry leftovers – I managed to find room for that lot too, then wandered over to their site and stumbled into desert – what nice neighbours!
We chatted for quite a while, in fact it was dark when I ventured back to my abode (unusual for me as I’m always in my tent relatively early) to hit the hay without any concerns about breaking camp in the morning.
Day 12 – July 31st – Crater Lake National Park – Rest Day
Some Views From Around The Park…
Day 13 – Aug 1st – Mazama Campground to Crescent Lake – 123 kms
As I figured, I had to regain about 1000 ft in elevation before I could do some coasting this morning. Apart from the snotty crosswind which slowed down my descents somewhat, it was a pleasant ride around the remainder of Rim Drive. This section completed the loop of Rim Drive that I started on Wednesday, and presented some spectacular morning views of the pristine deep blue water that is Crater Lake.
I retraced my route to the north entrance of Crater Lake National Park, then turned east onto Highway 138 – which is one straight road all the way to Highway 97, where I turned north. Second breaky, in Chemult, was 70 kms into the ride today, but it was a fast ride to there and a huge omelette with toast and trimmings was soon devoured. US 97 was a really busy road with lots of truck traffic, so I was glad to get off that highway and head northwest on Highway 58, which was much quieter and will also take me all the way to Eugene tomorrow.
I’m still at around 5000 ft here in Crescent Lake, so I have a bit more downhill tomorrow to look forward to. I lucked into a lakeshore campsite here and there is lots of stuff to rubberneck at here – high-powered boats, water-skiers, jet-skis etc. – warm water too – just as well as there are no showers, so a quick dip will have to do. No mozzies yet either, let’s hope that they’re sucking elsewhere tonight!
The weather was a little cooler today with the sun hiding behind clouds for most of the day – but believe me, I’m not complaining after those few scorcher days!
My day off yesterday was very relaxing and I didn’t do much of anything, except eat and chat with my new neighbour, Jay, who drove down from Seattle with his new Airborne titanium bike, just to ride Rim Drive. He said afterwards that it was a tougher ride than he had heard – I did warn him though before he set off, but he enjoyed the ride and the fantastic views from the numerous lookouts. He was amazed that I rode it with all my baggage – so was I! Anyway, nice fellow, and it was pleasant to chat with another bike aficionado (read – bike geek! – he travels with a road bike and a mountain bike on his truck!). Jay took over Barry and Melanie’s camping spot – they left early in the morning.
I had a quick ride before dinner to a general store that is close to here, for the purpose of picking up some “refreshments,” and also I need a new book to read. They had some used paperbacks at the store, and when I asked how much they were, the young lady assistant said that the used books were free – what a nice gesture!
Day 14 – Aug 2nd – Crescent Lake to Eugene – 134 kms
After my usual quick breaky I had a short climb to the summit of Willamette Pass at 5275 ft. But then what a ride down! I had about 15 – 20 kms of riding down a 6% grade – a great free ride with only a headwind slowing me down a bit. After that steep-ish grade, the road continued gently downhill following the course of the Willamette River all the way to Eugene with some pretty scenery along the way and low traffic volume that increased as I neared the city. Highway 58 showed evidence of some extensive and recent roadwork for many miles, fortunately the paving was almost complete and only line painting work remained to be finished. I’m glad that I wasn’t there a few weeks earlier when the work was in full swing!
The headwind continued to dog me all the way today though, but I still managed to arrive in Eugene in the early afternoon. I picked up my ticket for Monday ‘s train ride to Seattle, then headed out to find a motel for a couple of nights. Yes another day off tomorrow – in civilisation this time. Probably just as well though as thunderstorms are in the forecast for this area for the next twenty-four hours. Some rain sure wouldn’t’ t hurt this area though, everything looks dried out and parched. Even the Fall Creek reservoir that I passed just outside Eugene, was at a very low-level.
Downtown, I passed the huge Eugene Saturday street market on the way to the motel, so after checking in and cleaning up, I went and spent a couple of hours meandering (and eating) my way through the many stalls.
Here’s a good one…
On the way back to my motel, wandering through the back streets of Eugene, I happened to look up at the roof of a house that I was passing – on the roof I saw, of all things, a monkey! – “Oh yeah!,” you might say, and I actually did say that to myself. So I shook my head and looked again – sure enough it was a small monkey – AND wearing a t-shirt and shorts no less! Well, as I was standing there gawking, wondering if I was losing my marbles, a van pulled up at the curb, a couple of ladies and a girl got out and followed my eyeballs to the roof. “Oh no,” they exclaimed. Turns out that it was their pet monkey and it had somehow ventured out onto their roof – they were lucky that it didn’t go any further. They got busy gathering up ladders and then proceeded to try to coax the little rascal down – quite a comical performance. I left them to it, with a big grin on my face – they didn’t seem to find the same humour in the situation as I did!
Anyhow, no riding tomorrow, laundry and other duties to perform – amongst some sight-seeing, eating and drinking! Life’s tough eh?
Basil’s getting awful excited about his first train ride on Monday!