Cascade Mountains

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Spike

Friday, October 17th, 2014

Spike

On tour this summer, just outside of Yakama on a hot mid-July Day I started hearing a rhythmic thunking as I rode on an overpass. I pulled over and slowly pushed the bicycle forward looking for things dangling, or rubbing or something. And look what I found. This is why I use Marathon Plus tires and don’t even bother messing with other tires on my Atlantis. I rode over 2000 miles, fully loaded, in the Cascade and Sierra Mountains after this incident. The tire, while plenty worn now, is still in service.

Posted from Yakima, Washington, United States.

Tour without a goal – 11 August 2014

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

Lake Alamor with Mt Lassen in the distance

to the sound
of flowing water
found my way down to the village
 
-Santoka

angels and Dutchmen
The campground at Lassen is at over 7000 feet of altitude so it as a nice rid down to the valley below. As it does it warmed up as I descended but big fluffy white clouds kept rolling in keeping things cooler. Things flattened out at this big valley with mountains all around and trees ahead. It clouded up enough that it began to rain hard enough I pulled over and put on the pannier covers. Of course it didn’t last. The route climbed a bit from here up to a PCT crossing. I pulled over to snap the traditional pic and found trial angels were there stocking the ice chests they leave for the hikers (Or they were stealing from it and were trail devils I suppose).

behind the gauzy clouds
the moon like a lamp behind
a paper screen

After that short ascent it was down to Lake Almanor and at this point I had to leave the route to get to some services. I rode into Chester where I was able to get lunch, supplies and give my little brother a birthday call – happy birthday Kev! I ran into a elderly couple on a tandem and these folks had ridden everywhere around here and elsewhere. They said they rode around 6000 miles a year! The gentlemen of the pair informed me at several points at he was a Dutchman and would cycle until his legs fell of. That gave me some tips on the route ahead including noting that the Laka Almanor trail is worth taking. While it is noted on the maps the main route stays on 89. Well I’m all for getting off the hwy so not only did I take the trail but i did some off-road riding on the dirt paths and gravel roads before the trail began, dipping on and off the hwy.

sheltered at the outhouse
I watch the sky break open

The trail itself was great; mostly in the woods with sections along the lake. No rail trail, it bobbed and weaver through the trees with plenty of short little ups and downs. There were two campgrounds at the end of the lake and I decided to stay at the latter one. It was a pretty short days ride but I the next couple campgrounds were private affairs and I had frittered away a lot of time in Chester. So I stayed at Rocky Point Campgeound which turned out to be a huge PG&E ‘ground. After dinner and such thunder began and then a torrential downpour. Hail followed. Everything was set up so I just hid out under the awning at the bathroom until it faded away with one last ominous peal of thunder.

two woodpeckers
hammer out a
syncopated tattoo

Tour without a goal – 10 August 2014

Monday, August 11th, 2014

Mount Lassen

came along
a mountain path
talking to myself
 
-Santoka

under the volcano
In 1915 Mount Lassen erupted – twice. Two years later Lassen Volcanic National Park was formed and like so many of those early parks the centerpiece is a road that runs through it. I’d wanted to spend a but of extra time here since I wasn’t even really aware of this park before the tour (shameful I know) but the best way to do that was to slowly ride hwy 89 through the park and check out the scenes as I did. As that was on route and there are campgrounds at both ends of the park I was able to both do a bit of the route and explore the park a bit. Of course to really explore it would require more backpacking than I’m set up for, but I definitely got a taste.

Sacramento Crew

The morning was dominated by the climb up to the Lassen Summit, which for a good portion of was all in woods. Now these woods varied from thin trees, minimal underbrush in the ‘devastation zone’ to big old growth trees and riotous shrubbery where clearly more rain falls, to ice plants, Madrona, lodgepole pine and other high altitude friendly plants as I approached the summit. There were the biggest pine ones I’ve ever scene littering the ground, some as long as a foot. I heard a couple of here fall from trees in camp and it was like a rock dropping out of the sky. I took a short info trail in the ‘devastation zone’ and it stuck me that this was just like being at Mt St. Helens but this eruption had occurred 100 years ago. But there was a similar pyroclatic flow and flood from melting glaciers and similar deposits of ash. So you could see how the forest recovers, or hasn’t, in at least that length of time.

Kings Creek Waterfall

The other major activity I did on the ascent was to hike out to Kings Creek Waterfall. This was about a three mile round trip hike and turned out to be a bit more strenuous than I’d have thought for such a popular hike. It was almost entirely over shale and there were several rocky descents down to the falls. The trail came right to the top of the falls and you could look down them and then walk around to see the water rushing over the rocks. After. Burner Falls yesterday it want quite as impressive but a sweet cascade nonetheless. As I hiked back big black clouds rolled in and a few large drops of rain fell. I hurried back to my bicycle as I hadn’t put the covers on.

Lassen Summit

It had been a pretty long gentle climb up to the ~7500′ I had reached at that point. But the last ~1000′ were a series of switchbacks during which the greens thinned out and the surrounding peaks were revealed. Thunder began as I left Kings Creek and I saw a few jagged forks of lightening against the blackened sky. But on reaching the summit of 8533 feet, the highest point so far, the clouds had streamed around the mountain and there was a bit of blue sky on this side. Frankly the clouds had made for a cooler climb up and with the strong wind up here I was even a bit cold. Felt nice. The descent was broken up by visits to numerous scenic areas. Clearly going from the SW corner to the NW is the preferred route as the overlooks are numbered starting here and the various peaks – also labeled – much more dramatically come into view.

Bumpass's Hell

But the big attraction on this side is Bumpass’s Hell which also required a 3 mile hike over sand and shale to get to. Bumpass Hell is a hydrothermal area not unlike what you’d encounter in Yellowstone National Park. It was a blasted region, bone white and sulfur yellow, with chemical turquoise ponds and steaming vents. There were boiling pools of water, fumaroles that out gassed steam with a loud hissing, belching mud pots and a chalky, blue stream that ran out of the valley. Certainly a place to fire the early settlers visions of hell.

Bumpass's Hell steaming pool

It was a fast descent to the entrance with another’s small geothermal area on the roadside at one point but primarily between pile a of ash, basalt cliffs and open areas looking onto forested mountains. I know I only scratched s surface here but what a great park; one I’d like to do some backcountry hiking in. I camped at the Southwest entrance walk-in campground, which was small and pretty empty this Sunday evening. As darkness fell the thin clouds that had been here all afternoon were lit a faint pink. The rising nearly full moon was like a candle behind a screen.

the whiff of sulfur
and giant pinecones falling
like rocks from heaven

Tour without a goal – 9 August 2014

Sunday, August 10th, 2014

Burney Falls

Warm nights,
the lee of twisty pines —
high jets crossing the stars
-Gary Snyder

scorched earth
In the morning I found a hiker sitting on the picnic tables in the hike/bike site. He figured he’d camp at Burney Falls for a week or so, hike the trails, “maybe take the PCT over and then hike up Lassen Peak”. As he outlined his plans he crushed a package of ramen, filled it with water cold from the tap and stirred in a can of tuna. Breakfast of champions. You meet some real characters sometime in the h/b sites but I’ve only ever run into these outdoor enthusiast vagrants here in California. I made my own breakfast and packed up and headed out. But on my way out I stopped and did the short hike to Burney Falls and what stunning falls these are. Two big cascades free falling into a big round pool with countless little streamers running out of the pumice stone.

PCT

Today I was going to be on the 89 all the way to Lassen Nat’l Park and the first few miles were just like they’d been yesterday – among time pine trees, dusty shrubbery like sage and thistle, no shoulder on the road and a mix of traffic. But shortly I entered the section that had been closed due to the wildfires until just a couple of days ago. The fire led right to the road and eventually both sides of the road. The trees were blackened husks, the ground often burnt to just black stone revealing the contours of the land. The hills above were all just remnants of trees and I could see a few active twists of smoke rising here and there. Fire traffic was everywhere and cleanup crews were out there cutting down dead dangerous trees. There were a few amazingly preserved cabins and houses with the fire damage three quarters of the way around. In some sections there were smoldering piles of ash heaped along the road reminding me of nothing so much as the summer we spent in Idaho after Mt. St. Helens had spewed ash everywhere.

Still smoking

Out of the burnt sections I eventually emerged and climb up to this plateau like a bowl with mountains all around. Hot up there, fully exposed under the midday sun but happily with a stiff tailwind. But on passing through Old Station – the last “town” before the park the road turned or the wind shifted and I was facing the winds for the climb up to the park. A fairly long gentle climb through the woods, which as usual become increasingly dense as the elevation increases, it wasn’t a terrible climb to Eskimo Hill Summit at 5933′.

Scorched Earth

It was a short couple of miles to Lassen Volcanic National Park where I hoped to camp to it. But it’s a national park and it’s a Saturday so I’d been scoping out places outside the park in case I needed to wild camp. But on arriving at the Manzinita Lake Campground I talked to the campground hosts and they told me there was one site left, which I immediately grabbed. Unlike most national parks I’ve been too this one had a store and showers and even laundry. While I was utilizing some of those resources I ran into a fellow touron who commented on my Rivendell hat. I ended up talking into the evening with this fellow and his three companions. They were all out of Sacramento and really hooked into the utility/practical cycling scene but also touring and bike packing. Good to meet some fellow travelers.

scorched black stone,
clouds of ash,
like a campfire, still smoking,
all the way into the hills.
Through the burnt out land
a tiny, clear brook runs snakelike
along the road

Tour without a goal – 8 August 2014

Saturday, August 9th, 2014

Mt Shasta looking pretty barren

The full moon ringed
by these innumerable stars
and the sky a deep green
-Shiki

a wild ride
From where I had camped in Weed it was an easy 4-5 miles back to the route which then climbed up through a valley most of the way to the town of Mt. Shasta. Mt. Shasta seemed like the stereotype of a NoCal town – two natural food stores, two crystal shops and at least one real good bakery. One the way out of town the road was closed and traffic was routed around. I check with the gal, doing the routing that it’d take me to 89 and she assured me it would. She asked me “Do you want to take a real wild ride?” If so then I should go left up Old McCloud road onto forests roads and take the backroads to Snowman Summit. So it did this. It turned out to be a pretty serious climb, but in the woods and only a couple of cars and a logging truck or two were there besides me. I descended down to Snowman Pass which means I was a fair piece above it. As I came down I saw Mt. Shasta in my mirror and stopped to check it out. It had been obscured in smokes and clouds so this was my first clear view of it. It loomed over the road but is almost completely bereft of snow with just a few thin glaciers visible on this side. Not how I’m used to seeing it. Back to 89 I had to go and would be riding on, with the occasional side road, for the next couple of days. After the descent from Snowman’s Summit, which had a nice wide shoulder it all but disappeared., the traffic alas did not.

Pit Dam

The landscape had been dry, but green with lots of undergrowth on the peaks but as I’d descend it would get dryer and hotter. The plateaus were all sand, twisted trees like Madrona and Quaking Aspen and thin pines. I saw what looked like a vulture and several times lizards. Twice today I climbed to above 4500′ and descended to around 3000′. The second climb was up to Dead Horse Summit and it was rolling hills both up and down it. It got rockier and hotter as I went down but like yesterday there were some evening clouds to help obscure the sun. The last bit of descending was along Clark Creek which really wound down a dry canyon above a reservoir. At the bottom was the Pit Dam which I road across before climbing a bit out of the valley and back to 89. There I backtracked to Burney Falls State Park where I was the only one at the hiker/biker site. I had pushed to get here as I thought campground might be full it being Friday, so it was another long day. The campground was dusty with huge pine needles everywhere and pumice stone littering the ground.

under the full moon
the crickets and the tree frogs
sing together

Tour without a goal – 7 August 2014

Friday, August 8th, 2014

California

The clouds come and go,
providing a rest for all
the moon viewers.
-Issa

California
It turns out that the next campsite from Ashland is 70 miles away. I hadn’t quite realized this and I spent far too much time this morning running some final errands. I hit the road after 11 and it was already pretty warm. After returning the main route the bulk of this mornings ride was riding up to Siskiyou summit. Initially this was in. Winding canyon among the trees, including Madrona trees which I thought were a coastal phenomenon. This was nice riding in the shade even with the miles of climbing. Once out of the valley I was right next to I-5 and mostly rode on frontage and side roads to the summit. I passed the PCT and ran into no less than three hikers retuning to the route.

Looking Southwest from Siskiyou Summit

The view from the summit was all of dry land with sparse green trees and ahead mountains shrouded in smoke. There are fires ahead and there had been closed roads and campground and a lot of the PCT hikers in Ashland had come in from furthers away routing around the fires. After a steep descent from the summit the route actually runs on I-5 for seven miles. I’ve ridden on the five before and probably will again but I never love it. Happily here it was short and downhill and only a couple on ramps which are the scary bit. A mile or so on the five and I entered California. The third and final state of this tour.

Sun in the valley

As the descent wound down and I left the five I was now in this hot dry valley. The trees were gone and there wasn’t even much in the way of shrubbery. Bleak and dry and all the tiny towns were drying up as well. There was enough gas stations open I could get water but let me tell you I was happy as I genre began to climb at the end of the valley and trees and greenery returned. Clouds also appeared and there was this lovely scene of the sun behind a cloud with rays of light steaming in the smokey air above the distant hills. At around 70 miles I bailed off the route and rode about five miles off route I into the town of Weed where I stayed at a commercial RV Park/Campground. Not my ideal ‘ground but I was just happy to have a place to sleep.

nearly full now,
the moon rises a blurry orange
this smokey summer night

Posted from Weed, California, United States.

Tour without a goal – 6 August 2014

Thursday, August 7th, 2014

Elizabethan Theatre in Ashland

Now is the winter of our discontent.
 
-Richard III, William Shakespeare

another day, another play
On my second full day in Ashland I really just spent the day doing the last of my errands and recovering, so there is little to report. However the fine folks who run the Ashland Hostel offered to try and get me rush tickets to
Richard III which was playing this evening in the outdoor Elizebethan Theatre. Well not only did they manage to get me a ticket in a really prime seating location but they gifted it to me as well. They truly have been most kind to me hear but this was unprecedented generosity. So a huge amount of thanks to them for this as well as all they other assistance they’ve rendered me while I was here.

Richard III

Richard the III is one of Shakespeare’s historical dramas and is of course this hugely intertwined complex of characters and histories. See the Wikipedia entry for more info on that as I sure can’t do it justice. The Allen Elizabethan Theater in Ashland is a fantastic theater model on the Globe where Shakespeare put on the bulk of his plays. So just being in such a location adds a lot to the experience. They had very nice stage design with period appropriate props and costumes and the lighting and sound was perfect as well. But it is all about the acting and it was just top notch here. The actor who played Richard was just amazing. Cunning, witty, clever and filled with malice and guile. He could telegraph to the audience when he was deceiving people or being disingenuous for his own gain. All the rest of the cast was excellent as well but he really carried the show. So really an excellent way to cap my time in Ashland. I’m definitely ready to get back on the road, but I’m feeling refreshed in body and mind after my stay here.

what am I doing amidst these throngs of people
when my heart is in the trees?

Posted from Ashland, Oregon, United States.

Tour without a goal – 5 August 2014

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

Dragonfly

Prospero
Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Ye all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.
 
from Shakespeare’s The Tempest

the path to joy and unity leads to a brewpub
I split this first day in Ashland taking care of needed business and participating in the activities of the town. I had several this I needed to,do,and first and foremost was the bicycle needed some work. Nothing major but my left pedal had been acting up since Crater Lake. It creaked and squeaked and occasionally would seize up. It seemed to recover somewhat but I needed to get it rebuilt, or more likely replaced. So I kept my eyes open for a bicycle shop and as I was walking around town looking for a place for lunch I spotted Piccadilly Cycles which had a clean, sort of Apple Store-ish layout and sold high quality commuter bicycles. So I went in and talked to the wrench there and as is so often the case on tour he was super helpful and immediately able to work on it. So I retrieved my Atlantis and he replaced the pedals with some decent cheap flat ones (I’ll send the Grip Kings back to Seattle where the fine folks at Free Range can rebuild them). He also lubed and adjusted my front derailleur cable which had become really stiff and hard to shift to the large chainring. Riding back to the hostel everything felt really smooth again (though missed the Grip Kings).

We Are Here

The rest of the afternoon was wandering through town and as I encountered needed places – the library, the post office, an outdoor shop – I stopped in and took care of business. It had been overcast and hazy but by late afternoon it had mostly cleared up and and warmed up. I returned to the hostel to relax for a spell before heading into town for the main event: The Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s production of The Tempest.

A scene from OSF's production of the Tempest (not my picture)

OSF has an outdoor Elizabethan Theatre and two more modern indoor theaters. The Tempest was in the larger of the indoor theaters which whole not as impressive as the outdoor space was nice and cool on this hot day. The production design of the Tempest was fantastic, minimal, spare, abstract: right up my alley. The stage was basically a triangle with a raised point toward backstage and two angled ramps at the rear. The floor was surfaced with various coverings and there were two holes on the floor that stuff could be raised and lowered from. The props were minimal and were primary four butoh dancers. The four wore grey pants and the traditional white body paint. They were in “relaxed” poses on stage from before the play started and maintained those, occasionally changing them until it properly began. They would serve as props – for instance as a rock the king leaned on, or a table that the prince and Miranda played chess on – as extras at times, but most often they were the manifestation of Prospero’s magic. He would snap his fingers and someone would fall asleep and a dancer would gently lay them down. They also served in a way as kind of a Greek Chorus or commentary on the proceedings. The lighting and sound effects were used extremely well to reinforce the titular tempest, Prospero’s magic and to enhance the strangeness of the island. The actors as one would expect were all top notch with Prospero and his captive spirit Ariel particularly standing out.

I’m no theatre critic and while I do love the theater have only see so much, but I thought this was a great performance and really am glad I went. I did think though at one point how strange it was to be seated among 800 people at a lavish (and plenty pricey) theatre when the previous day I was alone in the woods.

walking back from town
the moon sails out of the clouds
– a distant chorus of frogs

Posted from Ashland, Oregon, United States.

Tour without a goal – 4 August 2014

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

Looking down the valley toward Ashland

Before I arrived
who were the people living here?
Only violets remain
-Issa

riding the open range
I had made reservations for the Ashland Hostel for today and the problem with reservations is you are constrained to make them! From Crater Lake to Ashland it’s a good two day distance but of course the campground isn’t right in middle. This led to today being a long ride, the longest so far of the tour. I got up early and left by 8am which is almost unprecedented for me. The morning ride was really nice, cool and all in the woods. There were two decent climbs up to plateaus and then long sections on the plateaus.

amidst the endless wash of the river,
the piping of a bird

This whole area was “open range” which meant there was cattle roaming around and twice I encountered cows right on the edge of the road. Each time as I rode past they checked me out and started to follow me as if I was the farmer calling them home. Most of the day was in the woods with these larger open pastures but after a nice section along the Rogue River I entered this very arid region where there was this wonderful scent of sage and rosemary. It was dryer and mostly dry grasses and knotty shrubs like rosemary bushes. Reminded me of Winthrop more than anything else.

Rogue River

Under the sun though still in haze from the wildfires the last climb of the day began. As I’d already done the major ascent to is bluff, this last bit wasn’t epic but a pretty continuous 750 foot climb. It’s always a bummer when there is no sign marking a pass or summit, but especially so when you are at Dead Indian Memorial Summit. From that high point of 5200′ the road descended through this crazy canyon, with narrow twisting roads and on this day a viscous sidewind. That and the traffic meant one had to be pretty careful. But at the bottom I left the route and rode 3-4 miles west, over the I-5 and I was I Ashland OR where I’ll spend the next 3 days at the hostel.

following the mountain stream;
getting nowhere

Posted from Ashland, Oregon, United States.

Tour without a goal – 3 August 2014

Monday, August 4th, 2014

Wizard Island in Crater Lake

peaceful in mind
getting up going to bed
in mountains
-Santoka

lightning fires
Today’s long climb was back up to a Crater Lake and the high point on the rim of over 7000 feet. Of course I did this yesterday unloaded and I didn’t it find it too tough in that condition. It was definitely more work with e full touring load but not overly rough. On reaching the rim I did once again,pull off at the overlooks to enjoy my remaining time with this fantastic natural wonder. The day was somewhat overcast and it was still smokey but it was a lot more clear than yesterday. I could see much better in the crater and make out details of Wizard Island and the craigy rim reflecting in the deep, blue water

Another Side of Wizard Island

It was only six miles from reaching the rim to Rim Village where my time with Crater Lake ended. It was almost entirely downhill from here to. Prospect – over thirty miles. It warmed up as I descended and the arid high altitude landscape became more filled in with green undergrowth. I also began to ride along the Rogue River which is a rapidly flowing stream cutting right though lava rock. At one scenic viewpoint I could look right down steep rock walls to the white water below.

like beams of light
through stained glass
butterflies dance on the wind

Just outside of the tiny burg of Prospect is one of the rare Cyclist Only Camping: Buck Mountain Ranch. Basically a farm with a nice wooded area down by a creek that couple who run the place let touring cyclists stay at. Petty nice, the only downside being a huge pump continuously running to provide irrigation in this hot, dry summer. But not so bad, they turned it off around dark. I always really appreciate these people that make space available for touring cyclists.

Sun setting over Buck Mountain Ranch

through the trees
the sun rises a wavery red
in the cold smoke filled air

Posted from Prospect, Oregon, United States.