So Many Adventures, So Little Time: 2 Day Backpacking Near Marion Lake, 2 Day Bikepacking in the Ochocos, and 2 Day Bikepacking Trip from Salem

With so many outdoor excursions in the last month and more to come, I’ve gotten a little behind on my adventure route cataloging. I like posting routes (GPX included) on this blog to help provide others an easy place to find local hikes and rides of varying levels, but it also serves a more personal role: it helps me bookmark my rides and hikes so that I can look back on them and find the routes and pictures all in one spot.

That being said, the month of November was packed with lots of great rides and hikes, and the following three I have neglected to showcase are no exception. I’ll start with the hike near Marion Lake, which was done first, and follow it up with the bikepacking ride in the Ochocos, and a Salem to ‘Opal Lake’ [fail] bikepacking ride.

2 Day Backpacking Trip Near Marion Lake

The Map

Marion Lake Backpacking Photo Narrative

While we thought we were in for a pleasant and sunny weekend of hiking, we were very wrong. Luckily, we both came prepared for pretty much anything.

And then things got rainy (like a weird icy mist kind of rainy). We went to bed and then woke up to this:

Eventually the sun did make a brief appearance on the second day.

And then came the snow. The Forest Service Ranger I talked to assured me there was no snow on the north-side trails near Marion Lake, even after I named off all of the trails we would be on. Note to anonymous Ranger: better to err on the side of caution. I hope she reads this.

The angle of the snow made staying on trail next to impossible because the snow was more ice than actual snow. We found ourselves blazing trail anywhere there was an arm hold: rocks, tree roots, anything really, as the angled trail simply wasn’t hikeable in its icy state.

Yep… that’s me hanging onto a rock for dear life.

As we made it over the highest point, Andrew and I both could see that we had made it through the worst of what could have been a bad situation. Even as the snow came down, we both became much more talkative as we dropped elevation and the ice became snow once again.

The next morning, things were once again frozen over. No surprise there.

Ochoco Gravel Bikepacking Trip

The Map

Prineville Gravel Bikepacking Photo Narrative

The gang for this weekend’s ride was me (middle), Jesse Blough – the creator of my bike team Northwest Competitive Adventure (right) – and his friend Jon Conway (left).

The Ochocos just outside of Prineville are a gravel rider’s paradise. Even though our route didn’t work out perfectly, we were able to piece an epic ride together anyway, thanks to the huge network of trails to choose from.

Jesse wanted to do an out and back to a small town called Ashwood, which features some pristine gravel the entire way, complete with numerous water crossings, which we all crossed with varying levels of success. Needless to say, wet feet were had by all.

Our campsite was an awesome little spot just off of some new singletrack being built. We built a fire, dried out our shoes – signs of all our water-crossing fails – and chatted the night away with bourbon and a bonfire raging late into the night (9pm).

The next morning, there was one more 2,000 foot climb, and then we were off to the races, arriving back at Jon’s house before 12pm. We capped things off with a celebratory visit to Crooked River Brewing where we had some great beers and even greater burritos.

Salem Gravel Bikepacking to Opal Lake

The Map

Salem Gravel Bikepacking Photo Narrative

While the forecast called for temps in the teens, Seth and I figured we could totally handle it. We left my house on Black Friday around 8am with the temperature a balmy 24 degrees. It would get as high as 40 on our ride, and as low as 15. It turns out sleeping in 15 degree weather is kind of hard.

After about 30 miles of road, we got into the Shellburg Falls area, where gravel roads and big climbs abound. After climbing and dropping a couple thousand feet, it was back to the tarmac along North Fork road.

Once back on gravel, the temperature started to drop and even with a steady climb ahead of us, both of us had to layer back up. The climb to Opal Lake was cut short, however, because once we hit snow, the road was totally unrideable. Even though it was just a little snow, it was almost completely ice from the very start.

After a mile of riding on eggshells, we decided to give up on the relatively nebulous goal of getting to Opal Lake and instead turn around and put all our mental acuity (not very much) towards finding a primo campsite for the night.

As the light faded and temperature dropped, we sought out a campsite along North Fork road. We settled on Canyon Creek Recreation Site. Closed for the season, this site made a great Leave No Trace campsite for the night.

The night was… torturous. Neither one of us were able to keep our feet warm and woke up multiple times with feet that were painfully cold. Once on the bikes and riding, though, things slowly thawed out – even the feet.

We made it back to my place a little before 2pm which gave us just enough time to take a shower, drink some coffee, and then head to my parent’s house for a Friendsgiving meal. While we were both exhausted, a heavy meal with good wine and good friends was a great end to an already amazing weekend.

Seth’s dog displaying how I was feeling.

Categories: Oregon Bikepacking, Pedals and Packs

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4 replies »

  1. Very nice! Though I don’t know if I could hack sleeping at below 20F either. (Maybe if I put my 32F bag inside my bivy, inside my tent) And I like the “beans” addition to the burrito ordering menu.

    I need to get more late/off-season adventures in. My girlfriend and I are planning on riding out to the cabins at Stub Stewart for New Years. I love doing the cabins and yurts in the winter.

    • Yeah, Seth and I both had 40 degree sleeping bags, which didn’t help.

      But I hear you on the late/off-season adventures. It’s been hard to get out since we got that little snow dump a few weeks back. Cheers!

      • Yeah, I think that’s why I like cabins/yurts for the off-season so much. No matter how cold and/or wet the ride is, you’ll end up in a warm and lighted place.

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