Day 35-38:

Day 35

Sadly, our days in Bend had come to an end. Luckily, we were able to cherish our last morning there over a cup of coffee on Tess’s high perched porch! It was hard saying goodbye but if we didn’t leave then, there was a chance the allure of Bend would trap us forever. Cheers to those who hosted us and the friends we made over the past couple days. We hope to be back soon!

We cruised out of Bend and eventually hit the outskirts with epic views of the cascades and prominent peaks surrounding the area, including the Seven Sisters.

Views of the Seven Sisters on the outskirts of Bend.

Thankfully all the backcountry roads and turns were marked with a scenic bike way sign. Eventually we found ourselves in a quaint town named Sisters where we filled up on fuel. We then hopped back on some more country roads until we met up with the 20 where we had spectacular views of Mt. Washington and remnants of trees from old avalanches.

Mt. Washington towering over the landscape

We had a bit of a climb but we were rewarded with a long downhill stretch. It was one of the hottest days of the trip and the extra breeze of the downhill was appreciated. Upon turning on North Sathiam we found a pristine creek to escape the heat—it was the most frigid water of the trip! We ate lunch and passed out as our bodies morphed into the rigid and ragged rocks.

With a little bit of rest we continued onward under the shade of high towering conifers. Before we knew it we were 80 miles out from Bend and into the lush cascades. Our campsite was cool, humid and shaded—it was quite a treat. It was also connected to a nature trail that led us to a lake and another high perched porch!

Views of the lake and porch.

Upon closer inspection of lake, it was filled with little floating sacs that looked like pollen—we figured it was just the beginning of an algae bloom and went for a swim. It was in hopes of getting the sweat off our body but strangely we felt almost dirtier as we dried up. We eventually ran into a sign that said not to swim in the lake due to crynobacteria and listed the side effects including serious rashes. With that note we went to bed and hoped for the best.

Day 36

We had ourselves an early morning to stop by the great town of Detroit. It was there we fueled ourselves with coffee and met a bikepacker. A seed was planted in our mind when we saw his setup. We had long talks about a mountain bike set up and the unlimited possibilities of bike-packing.

After getting jazzed up on coffee, we began the most circuitous path towards Mt. Hood. The day was filled with narrow, winding forest service roads until we reached the 26 and caught our first glimpse of the colossal peak. Luckily the roads were a treat, filled with shade and teaming with delicious blackberries along the edges...what more could we ask for!

Selfie from a well-maintained forest service roads in Oregon!

Eventually we found ourselves under the shadows of a towering Mt. Hood and flabbergasted by it’s prominence. It was easily one of the most humbling views of the entire trip and we were determined to find a place to sleep with a front row view! We ended up settling for a windy snow park but the view was surely worth it!

A view of Mt. Hood while riding.

Our castle nestled under the comfort of Mt. Hood.

The silty glacial streams meandered around our site tempting us for a polar plunge. It was too good to pass up but Joe and I found ourselves spazzing from the chill. Though, we felt cleaner than ever...especially after that last lake—it was priceless!

With an early dinner we all enjoyed our ramen just as much as the previous night. We caught an early sleep under the cover of our rainfly to protect us from burly winds, silt particles, and an emerging storm.

Day 37

We awoke to our first cloudy day of the trip. It was a delightful change of scenery and the days mission was easy—we just needed to ride 30ish miles downhill to Hood River. Awaiting us would be a relaxing day with friends from the surrounding area. One of Joe’s friend Cal who’d recently moved to Washington and some good ol’ Summiteers including Caroline, Paige and Nate!

The morning cruise was a bit cold but an epic downhill bomb nonetheless! Before long we were closer to sea-level than we had been all trip! The air began to feel a bit damper and even more oxygenated in the presence of the Columbia River Gorge compared to the mountainous terrain we had been traversing over the past month.

Upon arriving to Hood River we treated ourselves to Lox n’ bagels! Dylan and I then found ourselves splurging on a pair of Optic Nerve sunglasses—this was one of the greatest decisions of our lives! My eyes were feeling completely burnt everyday, not to mention that they had been broken and taped for the last two weeks. And Dylan found his former glasses around the house before he left and they were very crusty to say the least.

Dylan and I wishing Joe got a pair of speedy glasses too!

We then cruised down to the river to relax and do a little bike maintanance as we waited for our friends to arrive. As time went on we had our whole crew together and enjoyed the extra company social distanced at the Waterfront Park.

It was lovely catching up with old roommates and seeing the life they had made for themselves over the past couple of years. Their generosity cannot go unnoted as well! They brought us all kinds of picnic snacks, beers, and even bought us the most delicious pizza for dinner—including a pear pizza!

The pizza feast!

Time was flying by and as golden hour arrived our bellies were full but we still weren’t quite sure where we’d be staying the night. In a rare occurrence we found ourselves getting in our friends cars to get to a campsite on the Washington side of the gorge. We ended up in an incredible spot called Home Valley and ironically it felt quite like home. Drinking wine, sharing stories, Carol passing out and trying to move her somewhere more comfortable (it was the ground instead of a couch this time around) was quite a nostalgic night!

Day 38

Feeling the remnants of last night we ended up sleeping in later than usual. We still had a big ride planned out and a little sleeping in wasn’t going to stop us! We’d be going through two big passes in Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

It was our first day riding in Washington and it was everything we could’ve hoped for and more! The day’s ride was lush and filled with native flowers along the side of the road. We traversed along spectacular views of Mt St. Helens. As the day continued the forest only became denser and greener! Lichens and mosses covered the entirety of high piercing conifers and the understory was carpeted by ferns. With a 80+ mile day and about 8000ft of elevation gain, the forest continued to renew our spirits.

Mt St. Helens from our route!

A dense patch through Gifford Pinchot National Forest

With such beauty all around us we were determined to find the best camp spot. One with a running stream for promise of absolute greenness and tranquility. After a few explorations down forest service roads we found ourselves camping in between two brooks! It was a perfect spot and the noise of the gently floating water practically rocked us to sleep.

Hey joe could you send some pics of Mt St. Helens, Gifford Pinchot forest and camping spot between the creeks :)

Our tent perched in the middle of two creeks!

Our days in the forest, allowed us to find peace for a moment. To be honest, it’s been hard to find any peace during these troubling times but I’ve been able to find some moments of solace while biking. My mind will wander from one thought to another but when I pedal long enough, only my breath and balance endure.

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