Oakridge is a place of myths . . . non-stop flow, epic views, trail stewards that do not sleep, rope swings above clear pools. A place touted as mountain biking's dream world. With this in mind Aubree and I decided to gather our gear and spend the weekend in this place of exalted majesty. With the help of our two year old cattledog mix “Chapter” (thats his name) we packed up our 1971 camper friday night with a tinge of anxiety of whether the 1.6L “had what it takes” to make the journey from Portland. This would be the longest trip under our piloting; thoughts of being stranded easily steal sleep from restless eyes.
Waking up to an excited Chapter . . . he somehow always knows . . . we got started out. A quick stop in Portland to fuel up and grab foil wrapped burritos before we hit the cruise speed of 55 MPH. Seemingly surrounded by cars adorned with any trinket found at the U of O fan shop (it was a home game saturday) we ticked off miles. Anticipating each marker as we neared our 100 mile AAA tow radius limit and beyond. 4 hours gone and a top speed of 62 . . . the bus made it.
We pulled into a mostly deserted Salmon Creek Falls Campground and took deep breaths of air cleaned by thriving forests and roaring rivers. Quickly the bikes exited the car. Mine is a raced out but all-mountain worthy Yeti 4X, while Aubree has decidedly more soulful tastes and chooses a modernized Fat Chance Yo Eddy!. From the camp, with Chapter directing our way, we headed toward town on the south Salmon Creek Trail. The trail would be epic in any other setting but is oft dwarfed by the potential of riding in the area. Still worthy of a visit including steep climbing, loose descents, plenty of roots, and a near perfect swimming hole (i.e., rope swings above clear pools).
After the eight or so mile ride we found ourselves back at camp thirst quenched by cheap beer and parched by laughs and conversation. Time to eat. There isn’t a depth of dinning choices in Oakridge but by far the best the Brewer’s Union if only for cask conditioned IPA which has a smoothness of a fillet brazed joint (the food is quite good too). The pub reads like a who’s who of Oakridge with 50 perecnt of patrons recognizable from my attendance at MBO a month prior. Once back at camp we lit the lanterns, popped the top, ate fine chocolate and planned the next days ride.
After a most restful night we planned our attack. We drove our tired but trusted bus decidedly out of our tow range 15 miles deep into the forest where we set up our base camp and packed our bags with snacks from the Westfir market. The following 8 mile climb to the top of upper alpine treated us to views of lush green mountains falling on top of one another until lost in the deep blue shadows of the Sisters. From the road we found singletrack.
We were out there . . . a place where solitude isn’t just a feeling but a mantra. Alpine meadows bled into old growth forest and stumbled upon lost latrines. Smiles followed the contour of a trail that was obviously built with passion as equity.
At the end of our 20 miles the green bus happily met our tired selves and most happily a spent Chapter. Packed up and on the road conversations of switchbacks and differences in dirt filled the drive. The bus labored home without complaint and we are left with pictures and memories of a place where myths are truths.