Day 19, Patrick Creek to Cave Junction
Lest our border crossing into Oregon be some boring affair, I routed us off the highway and over the mountains on a series of steep, backcountry dirt roads (beginning on Patrick Creek Rd). We entered Oregon near the top of the climb high up in the Siskiyous (a subrange of the Klamath Mountain Range). The only person we saw all day was a guy on a wild offroad dune buggy who expressed a fair bit of shock and admiration when he saw the three of us.
Note that we also bypassed this section of the Redwood Highway (i.e. Hwy 199, i.e. The Smith River Scenic Byway) because it is notoriously narrow and dangerous for cyclists. We received a few stern warnings from southbound cyclists to avoid it, so we did. It ended up being a hot, steep but seemingly apropos way to celebrate finishing the California leg. This was the first of a few impressive dirt adventures I dragged Monique through on her piddly 28cm tires.
By the time we started dropping back down toward the highway, Cam got restless being in the trailer. We all walked for a stretch, enjoying having the entire road to ourselves, and even kicked the soccer ball for awhile. Then we all had a hoot rolling along with Cam in my basket, smiling at the simple adventure and family camaraderie of it all.
We eventually dropped down, crossed the highway, and rode a backroad into Cave Junction where we quickly downed some smoothies and ice water. Then we settled on a night in the jankiest motel in town to enjoy cold showers and a walk to get some pizza.
The following day included another bold attempt to avoid Hwy 199 by riding dirt backroads up and over mountains. This time it failed. More specifically, my route failed. The dirt climb I had nervously plotted proved to be an unrideable service road that followed power lines straight up the side of the mountain. We ended up doing a massive backtrack in scorching midday sun and both hit our wall physically and emotionally. As a result, Cam was trapped in the trailer for more than an hour longer than usual, and he started to go a bit bonkers too. In the end, we crash landed into a sweet little yurt in Murphy, the beginning of the Applegate wine country.
The yurt property (listed on airbnb) had a pool, which went a long way in salvaging the otherwise trying day.
All's well that ends well, they say.
The next morning, we quickly realized that we needed a recovery day. Fortunately, it was just a short meander through the Applegate valley wine country to the famous Applegate River Lodge, and they had a room open!
Still tired and worn out from the heat, we took another slow day and stopped for a fun wine tasting lunch on the Applegate River en route to a motel pool in Medford.
On top of the already unrelentingly hot summer, a brutal heat wave was rolling in. Temperatures in the Medford area were expected to near 115 degrees, which would be brutal and dangerous to try to bike through. Additionally, I had to pop in a coffee shop to take a few finals and turn in a paper for my seminary program. All things considered, we decided to spend the morning in Medford taking care of school and some other errands, then got some fishing in on the Rogue River, and eventually headed to a wonderfully gracious Warm Showers host in Eagle Point. From there, we would race up to elevation at Crater Lake to avoid the brunt of the heat wave.
Day 24, Eagle Point to Union Creek
Today was race day. Down in the valley where we woke, it was going to be around 110 degrees by early afternoon. We needed to finish our ride and get up to the mountains fast, so we got up from our outdoor bed on our host Sue's patio in the pink dawn light and packed quickly. The aim was to climb 2,000 feet up to Union Creek campground by lunch time where cold spring water and delicious pie would get us through the afternoon heat. Then we'd finish the climb up to Crater Lake the following day.