My Big Fat Oregon Cascades Solo Mountain Bikepacking Adventure

crater-lake-mtb-2015-editedI completed a week-long, 215 mile, solo mountain bikepacking trek in the Oregon Cascades in July 2015. At the end of the trek, I added another 40 miles of mountain biking on local trails, making my week’s mileage 255 miles.

It was an epic adventure for me (a mountain biking “disciple of dirt”) – sleeping in a hammock, biking through the Oregon wilderness, drawing drinking water from streams and rivers, climbing in mountainous elevations, dealing with an unseasonal heat wave, skirting a forest fire, and meeting many kind people.

Here is what I learned:

1) The Oregon Cascades are gorgeous.

To a Texan, the 10,000 shades of green and the varied foliage in this lush forest area are incomprehensible.

2) Oregon people are kind and generous.

Wherever I went, people were always interested in my bikepacking trek (my route, how I camped in a hammock, carried my food, got water from streams, how I navigated, how I powered my phone, etc), and helped me along the way.

3) Plan ahead for a bikepacking trek, and be prepared to adjust for the unexpected.

A few things happened that I did not expect…

  1. A week-long heat wave: The actual high temperature (90’s to 100 degrees F) was much higher than the average high temperature (high 70’s to low 80’s degrees F) found in historical temperature databases for this time of year in the Oregon Cascades.
  2. Forest fires can wreak havoc on your plans. The Bunker Hill forest fire almost wrecked me (see Day 3 and Day 4 blog entry for more on the Bunker Hill forest fire).

…but I adjusted my plans and moved on.

4) Be fit – train far ahead.

Being a flatlander from Plano, Texas, heading to the Cascade mountains, I began training six months ahead of the bikepacking trip. The training involved riding hill repeats on a bike overloaded with weight (loaded with more weight than I would actually take on the bikepacking trek). This hill repeat weight training paid off in the higher elevations (and less oxygen in the air) found in the Oregon Cascades.

5) Enjoy the journey.

How you get to your destination is important – enjoy the trek along the way. Take photos, stop and talk with people, and find the small joys.

6) God blessed me.

God gave me a healthy body to ride the mountain biking trek, and a sound mind to navigate in the Oregon Cascades. He created some amazing wonders and blessed me through the trek.

Below are daily entries regarding my bikepacking route, along with maps, photos, and my experiences. A gear and supplies list is found below the daily entries.

Day 0 – The Day Before the Bikepacking Trek (from a Disciple of Dirt)

Day 1 – Oakridge Oregon to Indigo Springs

Day 2 – Indigo Springs to Diamond Lake

Day 3 – Diamond Lake to Crater Lake to Lemelo Lake

Day 4 – Lemelo Lake to Toketee Lake via the North Umpqua River Trail

Day 5 – Toketee Lake to Steamboat Falls

Day 6 – Steamboat Falls to Oakridge

Day 7 – Local Rides in Oakridge, Oregon

Gear and Supplies
For those interested in mountain bikepacking, here is my list of gear and supplies (hope this helps with your trek).

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