The weekend kicked off with an incredibly thorough First Aid, CPR, and Bleeding Control certification from our board member Kim McCormack and partners at Cascade Training Center. As Friday night rolled in, and Horse Creek Lodge rolled out the spread they had prepared for us we began to realize how spoiled we were going to be all weekend.
It's the new year and we're gearing up for a busy twelve months on the Oregon Timber Trail. A lot of you have been asking about our popular Stewardship Campouts and Sawyer Certifications so we've been busy getting all our ducks in a row. Here is our 2018 calendar of events covering a broad spectrum from cooking, in the backcountry, to social panel events, to weekend-long certifications. We hope this series is inspiring and educational and we're looking forward to sharing these experiences with you.
Not only does the Oregon Timber Trail showcase Oregon's natural wonders for adventure seekers from across the globe; it educates about the natural and cultural history, improves health and livability of rural communities, revitalizes stagnant economies, and enriches and inspires future generations of Oregonians.
Since launching the Oregon Timber Trail route guide and GPS files in June over 1,000 people have download these resources. But how many of you actually got out on the trail? We've seen some incredible journeys play out on the OTT Riders Facebook Group, The Radavist, Revelate Designs, and MTBR.com but now we want to hear about your experience.
It doesn't matter if you only rode for a few hours or a few weeks, your answers will help improve the route resources, guide trail alignment improvements, and obtain grant funding. We appreciate your time and sincerely thank you for exploring Oregon with us in the Pioneer Year of the Oregon Timber Trail.
Waucoma Backcountry is a high ridgeline on the northeast shoulder of Mount Hood adjacent to the Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness. It offers splendid views of the mountain and Columbia River Gorge, as well as peaceful alpine lakes and wildflower meadows. A network of defunct dirt roads and trails provide access for hikers and mountain bikers alike.
The Oregon Timber Trail Alliance loosely organized a beginner-friendly trip into the area last weekend as part of the Swift Campout. Three first-time bikepackers and a handful of experienced bike campers rode the aqueduct trail from Kingsley Reservoir and found a splendid base camp deep in the forest at Black Lake. The following day some of us ventured towards Wahtum Lake but found the trail blocked by a gnarl of windfall, while others relaxed in camp and enjoyed fishing and floating in the crystal clear lake.
The Waucoma Backcountry is a newly proposed recreation area that the OTTA fully supports in conjunction with a variety of user organizations from the northwest corner of the state. Oregon, especially near the Portland metro area, is in dire need of entry-level and car-free bikepacking areas. The Waucoma Backcountry area proposes roughly 3 miles of new trail (mostly short connectors) and about 25 miles of road-to-trail conversions. The resulting network would provide a multitude of options for families, beginners, and seasoned bikepackers alike to access lakeside campgrounds and create trips as short or as long as they desire throughout the non-technical and stunningly scenic landscape. Not to mention providing Oregon Timber Trail riders an enticing spur option to extend their journey by a few days.
Sign up below to stay informed about the Waucoma Backcountry and learn how you can help:
Our second Stewardship Campout of the year—Bunchgrass Ridge—landed us in the middle of nowhere between Oakridge and Waldo Lake in the Willamette National Forest. Bunchgrass Ridge is a long, oft forgotten trail that also goes by the moniker Eugene to Crest Trail. But before that it was a primary trading route between the Klamath Tribes on the east of the Cascades and the Kalapuya and Molalla Tribes in the western valleys of the the range.
During high summer these tribes would ascend to higher elevations for cooler temps and more abundant game. As they left for the season they'd light controlled burns behind them to guarantee the alpine meadows weren't encroached upon by ambitious young fir seedlings. These semi-regular burnings ensured deer would be easy to find and the camas plentiful when they returned.
In the early 1900's a fire lookout was constructed on the remote Fuji mountain and once again Bunchgrass Ridge was the easiest way to connect pack animals to Oakridge some 30 miles away. In the 1990s the deep old growth stands flanking the Bunchgrass ridgeline were the site of the longest timber sale blockade in the nation. These days however, few use this long, remote backcountry trail—much less even know it's up there.
Although Oregon Timber Trail riders will be travelling in an uphill direction, Bunchgrass Ridge is one of only two connective mountain bike trails that cross the Cascade Range in Oregon. It's an important connector for riders of the OTT, but even more importantly it connects Oakridge to Bend and opens up a multitude of overnight or epic day-riding options.
The Oregon Timber Trail Alliance is happy to report that by next weekend the entirety of Bunchgrass Ridge should be mostly cleared from Eagle Camp (NF379) all the way down through Heckletooth to Oakridge. Hat's off to our group of 30 rockstar volunteers as well as our generous partners at Base Camp Brewing, Stumptown Coffee, Bobs Red Mill, and Nuun. And we couldn't have done this without the amazing support from Disciples of Dirt and the Willamette National Forest with their continued assistance in developing the Oregon Timber Trail safely, smartly, and efficiently.
From where we camped at Eagle Camp it's about a 25 mile ride with over 7,000' of elevation loss. Don't let that fool you though, it's still a rugged, slow, and exhausting ~6-7 hour journey. For more riding information check out Cascade Singletrack.