12.17.2010,12:26 PM
OR Backcountry: Day 1 Cascases Byway
Oregon Cascades Byway

After packing the Poop-up for a long term hibernation and double checking the bikes and gear, we left the county campground to our departure site in Prineville. Greg from ADV kindly offered a place to park the truck and poop-up while we were in the back country.

Greg runs an outfit, High Desert Adventures, that leads riders through the Oregon back country. His package deals include a chase vehicle to carry camping gear and food, and often center on a theme such as history, old mining camps, etc. I highly recommend Greg and his guides for a fun and thrilling adventure trip!

Greg in Baja on one of his package trips.

He guided us into an empty lot near his place in the suburbs of Prineville, where we unloaded the bikes and geared up. Wiley rode Mobey Dick style. Riding a quick diversion to his house nearby, he shot a photo of us before we headed out.

Photo courtesy of Greg.

Based on his recommendation, we altered the beginning of our original route for the first day and went south. Leaving the valley, we headed up the highway and stopped into a rest area to get a view overlooking Prineville. It was warming up quickly.

The first major leg of the trip for the day was Prineville to Crescent, via the Oregon Cascade Lakes Byway.

About 25 miles south of Prineville, we turned west on a back road that transects the north section of the Millican Valley OHV trail area (see trail system map here). This is one of several such OHV trail systems in the state. We briefly rode into a 'staging' area off the county road. It was all sand and more sand. But it looked like it could be fun. Considering that this was only my second long ride on the bike (any bike) since last January, I was a bit more than nervous about riding on sand. And since this was to be our longest route (mileage wise), as well as our first day on out back country trip, I was a bit anxious to be on the west side of Bend.

Back out on the road, we clipped along at a fast pace. Shortly after rounding a bend, a huge hawk flew right over the front of my bike and then I barely caught sight of a tree with sneaker hanging off branches like ornaments on a Christmas tree! We were going too fast to stop and, being the follower rather than the leader, I knew that if I turned around, Mr. Leader wouldn't notice I was missing for a mile or so. But I made a mental note of its location. Later, we found another 'Sneaker Tree' further northeast.

As we rode closer to Bend, it was apparent we were getting into a major city. Much to my surprise. Back in the mid-1990's, Bend was a quaint and moderate size community. Now it's a megatropolis like any other small-but-expanding McCity. I had no idea how to get to where we wanted to go, which was on the west side. I followed Ed with his GPS, which was better suited for large populated areas then my 60cxs.

We topped off our tanks and headed west on the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway. Finally we were able to leave the megatropolis behind and start ascending into the edge of the Cascade mountains where lakes dotted the valleys. I was surprised to see the lack of snow on the peaks and the water level in all the lakes was unusually low. The sun was hot but the shadows of the trees offered respite.

We stopped for a break and a 'tree visit' beside Devils Lake. At 5446 feet, the road was once an old Indian trail, like most of the roads in this part of the state. The water was clear as a bell. Ed was to notice that lakes and rivers/streams in Oregon are nothing like those in Texas. You can see the bottoms in Oregon

We continued on the paved byway for a bit more. Then we located the jaunt east off the pavement and into the forest. We alternated between gravel and dirt, wound around the base of a few mountains and east of a reservoir (Wickiup), which was dry as a bone.

Eventually we ended back on pavement and headed east towards Hwy 95 that runs south out of Bend. The plan was to gas up and pick up supplies in small town of Crescent. It was there that I delivered the disconcerting news: the DR was running like crap at speeds higher than 45. It ran fine when off pavement and below 46-48 mph. But out on the highway at higher speeds, it started doing its old behavior of spitting, coughing, skipping like an old man with emphysema. And it was to plague me the rest of the trip.

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posted by Macrobe
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