Day 25: Farewell Bend CampgroundJournal for 2016-10-06 | Published on 2016-10-08 20:21:42
We had no idea starting out today that it would be perfection. Instead all we knew was that we were happy to be starting out from our hotel warm because it was 32F outside and foggy. Rolling out on to highway 138 we could only see about 200ft in either direction and we headed up towards Crater Lake.
Highway 138 is straight as an arrow and rises about 1900ft over the 14 miles we were on it. It was a nice steady, albeit boring ride through the fog, then we rose above the fog and started seeing glimpses of mountains, and patches of snow on the side of the road. Rather uneventfully we made it to the summit of the road and paused just in time to have 4 other cycle tourists going the other direction roll up and chat with us. We didn’t catch names, but they like our bikes and we bantered for some time. They had come of Windago Pass in the snow yesterday and were told the road through Crater Lake was closed due to 2 ft of snow and wouldn’t open for 3 hours so they were looking for an alternate route to Klamath Falls.
Eventually they pedaled on, and we decided it would probably take us 3 hours to reach Crater Lake, and didn’t quite believe there was 2 feet of snow. We entered the National Park and started climbing the North Road toward Crater Lake, and there was snow on the sides of the roads. Then snow stuck to the pine trees. Then snow 6 inches deep on the side of the roads with slushy portions in the shade on the road. All in all it was more snow than we have ever ridden through in the past, but the sun was shining and for the most part the black pavement was melting everything on it.
It was so awesome as we were rising above 7,000ft in elevation, there were endless fields of white snow, the trees were covered in snow, all the mountains in the distance were capped in snow, for some reason that just makes everything look amazing. As a bonus with the sun shining we were pleasantly warm.
Finally, the cleared road starting getting narrower, with the snow encroaching on the both sides, getting up to about a foot high from being pushed aside by a snow plow and we saw dead ahead a slew of parked cars. As we muddled our way up to the parked cars we saw “road closed” signs for the North Rim Drive, which was the way we wanted to go.
We walked our bikes through the snow and saw our first views of Crater Lake, wow. Hopefully some of the picture do it justice. We sat down for lunch, and decided to wait a little bit to see if the road opened. It was 1pm or so and we walked to a new viewpoint, and then finally back to the road closure signs. Along the way we chatted with a gentleman who was interested in what we doing and what our plans were. We had two other choices: ride the unknown elevation/distance East Rim Road which was open, or go back the way we came and ride around the base of the mount. Neither option was appealing.
Matt hemmed and hawed, we asked a truck driver who was coming out of the closed road the status, he reported it was closed and wouldn’t re-open. We waited some more and a construction supervisor rode through in a Ford Explorer, he said the road was bad and closed, but that he was going to drive all the way through. Finally, Matt called the National Park phone number and asked the ranger who answered if one could walk the closed North Rim and he said you could.
So we slid our bikes around the road closed sign, walked them up until we were out of view, and then hopped on riding on freshly laid black pavement. We rode for some time and then came to areas that had not been re-paved. They were a slushy mess of snow, rocks, and dirt, and obviously the reason the road was closed, so we walked our bike through them. For 6 miles we repeated this, some riding, some walking, some pausing while construction workers / snow plowers did their thing and smiled and waved at us.
We paused at viewpoints that no one else today got to see. When riding we had the roads completely to ourselves and it was very enjoyable. The worst section was a bit of north-facing road, next to a cliff which had snow falling off the cliff on to the road and not melting since it was north-facing. But we made it through just fine, and didn’t have to go many miles out of our way.
On the other side of the road closure was a viewpoint and we enjoyed Crater Lake some more before heading up to the café / gift store. Along the way the gentleman we met earlier drove up, he had just gotten around the East Rim and was surprised to see us. We went in the café and formally introduced ourselves to Kevin. We chatted about plans and decided we would camp with him further down the mountain.
We wanted to get down the mountain because it was warm and late in the day at 4pm. The campground was 23 miles away but 3,000ft lower in elevation. It would really suck to stay at the top of the mountain and try to go down in the freezing cold, with ice on the roads. So down we went, and it was perfection again. Nice roads, almost no traffic, easily going 20-28mph down the mountain we went. Sailing through the pine forests in what was probably one of the nicest longest downhill rides we have ever done.
We rolled in to camp and Kevin had already found a site, paid for it and gotten two bundles of wood. He cooked us, with Pam’s assistance, chicken stir-fry for dinner and we stayed up late (10pm J ) chatting around the fire and eating marshmallows and popcorn. It was a great evening and the perfect way to end an amazing day. Hopefully the pictures have captured some of the essence of our amazing day. It was so nice to finally have a day like this after quite a few less enjoyable days in a row.
Only a million pictures from today:
Sarting the day off with some nice fog
Seriously this road was a straight line up to the pass. 14.8 miles of straight.
Not even in the National Park and here is the snow
Neat, snow covering everything, a new experience for us bicycle touring
Roads were in pretty good shape in the sunny areas.
Snow + mountains = pretty
Crater Lake + Fresh Snow + Blue skies = AMAZING.
Oh, just our lunch spot.
Pam riding along the closed North Rim drive, at our own risk of course.
This hawk was checking us out.
Crater Lake from a viewpoint that only we saw today :)
Sketchiest part of the road, pavement was torn up for construction, north facing road getting almost not sun, and snow falling off the cliff on to the road.
Look at that perfection.
Pam loving the ride downhill
Easier to get moving pictures when you aren't worried about the cars.
Finally back with other people, bonus they know how to take a sweet picture.
Before heading down for the day.