Epic Road Trip (Day 5)

Published on July 31, 2015

Day five took me across the entire state of Oregon, starting in Klamath Falls and ending up in The Dalles, with a slight detour around Crater Lake. I must have traveled through nearly every environment imaginable, but the the roads were cake compared to the last several days.

Once I had breakfast, I stopped off at Rite-Aid and picked up some ibuprofen. Four days of riding were starting to take its toll and my hands and shoulders were still a bit sore. Then I gassed up and set out on Highway 97 from Klamath Falls, past Upper Klamath Lake and onto the pine-laden highway that would take me to Crater Lake's park headquarters.This part of the highway was rather tame, but the bugs sure do like to fly into my visor. Within 10 minutes, I was already tired of wiping away bug guts from my visor. Maybe I should invest in a taller windshield. Anyway...

After a quick stop just outside the park to see if there was anything of particular interest in the gift shop (sadly, there wasn't), I got into the park and started the climb up a windy, steep road for a couple miles until I got onto the rim, stopping at an overlook along the way where I learned that steam can be fossilized, too. Thankfully, the construction was only if you went east to west along Rim Drive, so I was able to avoid any construction today. Victory!

The first overlook was just a few hundred feet from Rim Village, where the restaurants, gift shops, and other more touristy stuff lay (you know, the stuff I had already checked out before getting into the park.. because I'm a tourist). I spent some time changing my position on the Rim, taking photos of the lake and Wizard Island. I talked to some folks who lived in the valley nearby (they didn't specify which valley) after I made a joke about "I wonder how you get to see the wizard". Apparently there's a boat that takes people out to the island if you're willing to hike the mile-long, 11% grade trail down to the shore and pay some extra bucks. I opted to stay on the Rim, but it was tempting. I really wanted to meet the Wizard, but I'm not sure that Harry actually lives there.

I then hopped on my bike and continued around the Rim, eventually landing on the far side of The Watchman (that mountain that stands overlooking Wizard Island). The shots I was able to get just from the Rim were amazing and I'm excited I got to see the lake. It's a definite must for a second visit for me.

Having completed my planned ride along the rim of the now defunct caldera, I peeled off and started the steep (relatively speaking - it's no 26% grade, after all) descent back to the river valley and made my way back to Highway 97. From there, I continued on a tame path through Chemult, where I gassed up, and ultimately stopped for lunch in Bend. It's been close to 20 years since I've been here and it's changed quite a bit. I don't remember there being so much traffic or restaurants being so hard to find. I would have liked to stop by the Deschutes Brewery for lunch, but it wasn't really on my path.

I gassed up in Bend (having a round 75 miles on the tank and needing to go another 40 - better safe than out of gas). I vaguely remember the area being referred to as the Seven Peaks region and I was able to spy three peaks (I admittedly wasn't looking very hard, focusing on the road): Mt Bachelor, Mt Hood, and after a while (closer to Madras), I spied Mt Ranier in the distance (it was still too far off to show up in my photos, so this is Mt Hood).

After I arrived in Madras, I discovered I just needed to get gas again - the next station wasn't for another 94 miles (what is it with 94 mile spreads on gas stations?). I took Highway 97 from Madras all the way to The Dalles, past rolling wheat fields and vineyards. The road was great and I even got some fun twistiness, first going into Maupin and again into The Dalles. The altitude was quite a bit lower than I had been (between 3000 and 5200 feet), so it was also quite a bit warmer (not Phoenix hot, but still approaching triple digits).

Coming into The Dalles and seeing the Columbia River was a sight. It is named from a French term for the basalt rocks which formed narrows or rapids. I enjoyed a beer and my dinner at the hotel's riverside restaurant. I'll take photos tomorrow. It's been a long, warm (but very worthwhile) ride today.