Willamette Tier Stewardship Campout in Photos

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, our generous partners at Base Camp Brewing and Stumptown Coffee, the amazing support from Disciples of Dirt, and of course the Willamette National Forest for 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. 

Students Study Geology and Cultural History along the Oregon Timber Trail

The 7th & 8th grade students at Springwater Environmental Sciences School have spent the last month learning about the four tiers and ten segments of Oregon Timber Trail and researching the geology and cultural history along its length. The Timber Trail route travels over many diverse landscapes in Oregon with countless layers of history to unfold. We heard from several students that the hardest part was just choosing which story to focus on. 

Last week we visited the guided tour they put together for us and we'd be lying if we said we didn't learn quite a bit! Each student orated their area of study from the Klamath Tribes in southern Oregon to the formation of the Columbia River Gorge. 

We were surprised that many Oregon tribes held captives or slaves. We learned that Hole in the Ground was created by steam (or Phreatic) eruptions, not a meteor. We learned the history of the Free Emigrant Road and who Meek Lake is named after. We learned that astronauts trained on the slopes of Mt Bachelor, as well as military ski troops during World War II.

We discovered that the Old Cascade Crest has some hidden geology anomalies and about the rich history of the Fish Lake Remount Depot and Santiam Wagon Road. We learned about the devastating Hood River Valley freeze and why the Hood River is no longer called Dog River. 

Most of all we learned that in a few short weeks, these students had gone from never having heard about most places along the Oregon Timber Trail to becoming experts on the areas and teaching us things we didn't know.

It's amazing to see how, in such a short period of time, the Oregon Timber Trail has become bigger than just a bike route: it's a vector for education; a motivator for public land stewardship; an inspiration for the youth and economies of many rural Oregon communities; and a fun, healthy, and sustainable means of experiencing the cornucopia of Oregon. 

Next year, the students say, we'll have to teach them how to go bikepacking. 

Not only was this an exciting and educational interactive presentation, we're taking what the classes learned and including excerpts from the students' research in the forthcoming route guide. Look for it later this month. 

Swift Campout - Waucoma Backcountry

Waucoma Backcountry Swift Campout

Presented by the Oregon Timber Trail Alliance

June 24-25

Mount Hood National Forest

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 Swift Campout is a solstice bike camping trip happening all over the world on June 24th. Learn more here: builtbyswift.com/swiftcampout

This trip will require a mountain bike with mountain bike tires (~2"), but is only moderately challenging both technically and physically. You are expected to have basic backpacking experience and are comfortable carrying the gear, water, and food you need to camp overnight with your bicycle. No group guidance or assistance is provided. We will be camping at 4,000' so nighttime temperatures may be quite chilly. Watch the weather and dress appropriately. 

Saturday, June 24th, 10am
Meet and park at Kingsley Reservoir southwest of Hood River. Ride 7 miles (+1,000' elv) to Black/Rainy Lakes, set up camp, and explore. 

Sunday, June 25th
Ride unloaded along Waucoma and Anthill ridges to Wahtum Lake or farther to Indian Mountain for a picnic. Return and break camp and descend to vehicles. 10-20mi ( +500-2,000' elv) depending on options. 

This is not an organized event, just an informal campout with friends. Please be respectful to others, ride responsibly, and practice self-sufficiency. Note that bikes are not allowed in the Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness adjacent to our route, respect that boundary. If we have a large number of people, we'll split into two groups.

If you have questions please contact gabe@limberlost.co

Fremont Tier Stewardship Campout in Photos

We set out not really knowing what to expect. Our goal was to clear a good chunk of the Bear Creek and Winter Rim sections of the Fremont National Recreation Trail. We had heard reports of "pick up sticks", "log piles", "completely overgrown", and "impossible to find." All proved to be correct. 

Nonetheless, twenty volunteers came from all over the state and Klamath Trails Alliance showed up with their tool library to try and reopen this historic trail that had been impassable for over 10 years. We were camped on the beautiful Chewaucan River, well fed and lubricated by Base Camp BrewingStumptown Coffee, and Velo Cult. From camp it was a meandering drive on narrow dirt roads through large forest meadows to the rim. The Winter Rim is a stunning viewpoint, worthy of a trip itself. We split into efficient crews of sawyers and swampers, each tackling a different section of the forgotten trail. We had many fresh faces with zero trail experience, some newly-certified chainsaw operators from our March sawyer class, and even one of the legendary Scorpions who's been felling trees in Oregon for over 50 years.

Ultimately we achieved our goal after 3 long days of labor—27 miles of trail lay open and clear to ride. It's still a rugged, backcountry trail experience, and wayfinding can be tricky at times, but this trail will only improve now that people can pedal, hike, or horseback ride all the way from the Chewaucan River to Fremont Point. 

A huge thank you to all the folks who joined us for our first—and most challenging—Stewardship Campout. The OTTA would also like to extend a special thank you to Alan Grubb, the Natural Resources Specialist for the Fremont-Winema National Forest who made sure we safely operated chainsaws in the woods and were well equipped to have a successful stewardship event. 

We hope to see you all next week at our Willamette Tier Campout on the infamous Bunchgrass Ridge!

For more photos check out Gabriel Amadeus' full gallery here and Dylan VanWeeldens's full gallery here.  

If you're headed to Winter Rim to ride, we suggest shuttling to Currier Spring via Government Harvey Pass (NF29) and ride the 17 mile segment below, it's a good mix of technical rim riding, lush meadows, and exhilarating descents. And the Paisley Tavern and Summer Lake Hot Springs make for an excellent post-ride treat. 

 

 

Oregon Timber Trail Association and Route Introduction

Thursday, March 23rd, 6-9pm
Base Camp Brewing
Portland, Oregon


The Oregon Timber Trail is a world-class bikepacking destination and North America’s premiere long-distance mountain bike route. It runs the length of Oregon—from California to the Columbia River Gorge—and covers a variety of landscapes, communities, ecosystems, terrain, and, most importantly, mountain bike trails. Divided into four unique tiers, the Timber Trail is approachable by a wide variety of cyclists. If it sounds familiar, you’re not mistaken: the Timber Trail is inspired by the Pacific Crest Trail and other trails in the National Scenic Trail system. But, what sets it apart is that it’s designed for mountain biking and consists of more than 50% single-track.

We're excited to share the Oregon Timber Trail route and Association (OTTA) with you. It's a large complex concept with a vision for Oregon's future as a leader in recreation. We've spent 18 months developing the Timber Trail thus far and identified the need for a statewide organization to continue shepherding its timeline. We'll introduce the OTTA board, development progression, and how you can get involved. And most importantly we'll share the route, riding logistics, stories from the field, and how you can ride it yourself.

See you on Thursday.  

Development update, charrette findings, and moving forward

Behind the scenes the Oregon Timber Trail has gone through a great amount of formative progression since the concept's birth in late 2015. If you're interested in learning about the in-depth process we've facilitated with land managers and key stakeholders throughout the state you can download our full report at the link below. 

But to summarize, over the last 12-ish months we have:

  • Defined the desired experience and target audience of the Oregon Timber Trail (OTT)
  • Presented the OTT concept to audiences more than 16 times
  • Engaged over 100 stakeholders and solicited feedback
  • Contacted more than 40 trail user groups along the route's alignment
  • Traveled across the state to tour the route's landscape and meet with local land managers
  • Kept the route's alignment fluid in order to maintain an optimized experience for all trail users
  • Began organizing volunteer stewardship opportunities and educational programs
  • Identified under-utilized resources and the means to bring them online 
  • Publicly shared the route concept and developed a communication plan
  • Established the need for a non-profit trail organization and coalesced a diverse member board 
  • Inspired many to come and explore Oregon's varied natural and cultural landscapes

These findings, along with a detailed and revised route alignment have been submitted to the U.S. Forest Service for review. Pending their approval of concept the Oregon Timber Trail is poised to publicly launch a detailed route guide and plan for sustainable development in the spring of 2017. 

Download and read the full report here.

Be Prepared: Wilderness First Aid & CPR Training

Descending.jpg

Things will go awry, eventually. Accidents happen and people get hurt. Whether or not you are prepared to deal with the situation in a constructive manner is up to you. This isn't about building the perfect First Aid Kit, it's about education and utilizing the best medical tool you have: your brain. 

Navigating the different trainings and certifications can be quite daunting though, so we've broken it down into the three basic levels and how you can get involved. 

First Aid / CPR

One Day, $65

There is no reason you should not have basic CPR certification. It's a cheap, easy, half-day training that could save your friend's life. It should be taught in grade school. It's also a pre-requirement for the USFS Sawyer Chainsaw certification classes we'll be offering later this spring. (stay tuned...) If you're in the Portland area CPR Lifeline offers multiple classes every week. Red Cross offers similar certifications nationwide. Give them a call and sign up now. 

Wilderness First Aid

Two Days, $225

Hopefully you'll never have to use your CPR training. Most medical issues in the backcountry won't be immediately life-threatening and can be managed with a few key skills and tools. If you want to build a very solid foundation for wilderness medical knowledge this is your class. REI has partnered with NOLS/WMI to offer this training all across the US. Find classes in your neck of the woods here.

Wilderness First Responder

Nine Days, ~$700

Everything and more for someone starting from square one. This immersive class covers a vast array of knowledge, field activities, and many many hands-on scenarios. It's a big investment of time and money, but worth it if you're spending a good deal of time in the backcountry with other people. Learn more and find classes near you here. 

Other Resources

Nothing beats hands-on education from seasoned wilderness medicine professionals but if you're just looking for some basic resources REI has a great overview here. In addition to that NOLS sells high-quality no-nonsense first aid kits in their store. 

 

 

Oregon Timber Trail Pioneer Journey | PART 4

August 16, 2016

Photos and words by Leslie Kehmeier

They've been nicknamed the New Oregon Pioneers. For 16 out of 17 days they rode mountain bikes from California to the Columbia River covering over 683 miles and 112,000 feet of elevation gain and loss. They were the first people to complete the Oregon Timber Trail from start to finish. 

When Kim McCormack and Sam Clark rolled their wheels into the refreshingly cold waters of the Columbia River, they had set the stage for the “OTT”, an iconic route that will be launched in January of 2017. Worthy of adding to any mountain biker's bucket list, this inspirational route covered a variety of climates, communities, ecosystems, roads, jaw-dropping landscapes. In the future, enthusiastic mountain bikers will enjoy their own Oregon Timber Trail adventures. Some will tackle the route in segments while others might ride it in its entirety and follow in the wheel tracks of Sam and Kim. 

The ride toward Sisters brought Mt Hood into view

The ride toward Sisters brought Mt Hood into view

Ben joined the team for a beautiful day riding towards Sisters

Ben joined the team for a beautiful day riding towards Sisters

As an intrepid adventurer myself, I had the opportunity (and was honored) to become part of Kim and Sam’s journey. In the process, I witnessed the trip from two perspectives. For part of each day, I rode alongside the duo, seeing the route from the seat of a mountain bike. When I wasn’t pedaling, I was helping Kim’s husband Ben provide support. Although the three of them made it look easy, I came to understand that there were months of planning and preparation ahead of executing this extraordinary effort.

A little tlc for Sam's feet during a long day on the Oregon Timber Trail

A little tlc for Sam's feet during a long day on the Oregon Timber Trail

Despite taking on such a big, hairy, audacious goal, we all fell into the groove of living in the present and meeting each day with light hearts and a smile together. We filled our packs with food and water, reviewed the check points for the route and made our way north. Each day had its memorable moments and we hardly ever mentioned the end goal of reaching the Columbia.

Sam and Kim ride through downtown Hood River on the final stretches of their 683 mile ride across Oregon

Sam and Kim ride through downtown Hood River on the final stretches of their 683 mile ride across Oregon

On the final day, as we pedaled into civilization through downtown Hood River, I felt the emotion well up for Kim and Sam. I had followed these two people who set out on a quest and were about to achieve something bigger than themselves. It was finally ok to think about the finish, since it was just a few blocks away. The memories of the entire trip stacked up and I felt very proud to have been a part of the trip.

Team OTT: Leslie Kehmeier, Sam Clark, Kim McCormack, Ben McCormack

Team OTT: Leslie Kehmeier, Sam Clark, Kim McCormack, Ben McCormack

I look forward to telling the story of the first pass on Oregon Timber Trail to anyone interested in listening. These two ladies, the New Oregon Pioneers, are two pretty incredible people.

Photographer and writer Leslie Kehmeier followed Kim and Sam on their adventure across Oregon in July of 2016.

Read all of her accounts here: PART 1 | PART 2 | PART 3 | PART 4

This story was originally published on Club Ride.

 

Oregon Timber Trail Pioneer Journey | PART 3

August 10, 2016

Photos and words by Leslie Kehmeier

EAT, SLEEP, CHECKPOINT AND RIDE

When Sam Clark and Kim McCormack dipped their wheels in Columbia River last Friday August 5, becoming the first two people to complete the Oregon Timber Trail route, they were ecstatic, relieved, and…..hungry! After riding for two and a half weeks with only one rest day, the duo was ready to dump their gear-loaded packs and celebrate with some serious calories.

This wasn’t actually any different from an other day on the trip. For 17 days days life revolved around eating, sleeping and pedaling their way to the next checkpoint.

Although it sounds simple, Kim and Sam’s gear and months of preparation got them across Oregon without any major unplanned detours. On day 15 I had a chance to review the contents of their packs and gain some insights into how they approached such a long trip. I found that they were ready for everything from peeing and eating to spending an unexpected night out in the woods. Here’s a look inside the key aspects that helped them along the way.

CALORIES, CALORIES, CALORIES

What did they eat everyday? Peanut butter packs, Swedish fish, plantain chips and burritos. And most any other food put in front of them. Calories equalled fuel for Kim and Sam, an important and necessary catalyst to get them from California all the way to Washington. As with any trip, they started out with the known foods they knew they could stomach during long days on the trail. Not surprisingly, they also had those moments and rest stops when they devoured anything and everything put in front of them. Ah….the beauty of riding your bike all day!

FINDING THEIR WAY

The route that Kim and Sam followed was remote at times with sections of trail that don’t always see a lot of wheel tracks. Knowing this, the duo equipped themselves with various means of way finding, including paper maps and satellite messengers.  In addition, they set up a series of checkpoints (aka snack breaks) to connect with the rest of the team as they moved along the route. 

THE SECRET WEAPON

Kim’s husband Ben was the secret weapon. He played many key roles during the 17-day trip. He was the shuttle driver, chef, logistics coordinator, barista, and chief happiness officer. At some point everyday he appeared on the trail to bring Kim and Sam some sort of delicious snack, always with a big smile and positive words. It goes without saying that Ben was a key part of getting the team to the Columbia River.

Photographer and writer Leslie Kehmeier followed Kim and Sam on their adventure across Oregon in July of 2016.

Read all of her accounts here: PART 1 | PART 2 | PART 3 | PART 4

This story was originally published on Club Ride.

Oregon Timber Trail Pioneer Journey | PART 2

August 01, 2016

Photos and words by Leslie Kehmeier

Sam Clark and Kim McCormack are 11 days into their mountain bike adventure across Oregon. They've surpassed 450 miles on the way to their goal of reaching the Columbia River.

The duo started on the California border the week before last and spent a good chunk of time riding across mind-blowing high desert landscapes before making the jump into the Cascades. Kim, Sam and I discovered some pretty amazing terrain in south central Oregon, a place that doesn't always see a lot of mountain bike tracks.

Some rugged territory on Winter Rim

Some rugged territory on Winter Rim

Day three was notable as we explored the high ridges of Round Mountain. No matter where we pedaled, we often had 360 degree views. The next day was on par with the previous as we had a rugged crossing of the Winter Rim. “Man, this is just as spectacular as Porcupine Rim in Moab.” remarked Sam. I concurred as we stared to the east from a thousand feet above Summer Lake.

The views east across the desert from Round Mountain

The views east across the desert from Round Mountain

The transition to the Cascades happened on day 6, setting Kim and Sam up for a decent into Oakridge from Timpanogas Lake the following morning. Kim's husband Ben joined us in the fun. It was a fantastic way to celebrate the half-way point of the journey.

"My most memorable moment [on the Middle Fork] was zipping down the from top through those technical descents. I felt so free, one with my bike and one with the trail. I was beaming with joy and satisfaction. I felt on top of the world and like I could do anything I put my mind to! I thought to myself, "I love riding my bike! I love being out here in the mountains on the the trail! I feel just right and like I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be!” shared Kim at the end of day 7 on Oakridge.

We all rode into Oakridge to celebrate the half way mark.

We all rode into Oakridge to celebrate the half way mark.

Lights were necessary for an 85 mile push on day 4.

Lights were necessary for an 85 mile push on day 4.

The stoke level remains high on a daily basis despite long days in the saddle, sometimes totaling 12-14 hours. Kim and Sam’s positive energy has them on pace to finish during their expected window of sometime between August 6th and 10th.

Kim has summed up the the entire team’s success best, ”I think things are going so well for many reasons. The team dynamic is beyond measure. One big factor is that I believe we are all here because we WANT to be here. We want to make this happen and are enjoying the journey and each moment together. We truly are a team and care for each other on a REAL level. The support we give and kindred spirits we share is a gift that was waiting to be opened. I am so happy, excited and inspired by our group."

We caught the bear grass in bloom along Waldo Lake, something that only happens every 5-7 years.

We caught the bear grass in bloom along Waldo Lake, something that only happens every 5-7 years.

On Sunday Kim and Sam started north from Sisters and will continue to work their way through the Cascades towards Hood River. Barring any unforeseen obstacles, they expect to dip their wheels in the Columbia River as early as next weekend.

Photographer and writer Leslie Kehmeier followed Kim and Sam on their adventure across Oregon in July of 2016.

Read all of her accounts here: PART 1 | PART 2 | PART 3 | PART 4

This story was originally published on Club Ride.

Oregon Timber Trail Pioneer Journey | PART 1

July 22, 2016

Photos and words by Leslie Kehmeier

A big adventure launched itself today from southern border of Oregon.  Sam Clark and Kim McCormack have set out to ride across the state on mountain bikes, all the way north to the Columbia River. They hope to ride as much dirt as possible, sticking to trails and dirt roads.

A journey of over 600 miles and lasting three weeks is obviously no small undertaking. Kim and Sam are more than prepared with plenty of maps, a support vehicle piloted by Kim’s husband Ben and a simple philosophy. “We’re going to ride as far as we can on any given day and have a really good time doing it” shares Sam.

Sam Clark and Kim MCormack: the first two Oregon Timber Trail Pioneers

Sam Clark and Kim MCormack: the first two Oregon Timber Trail Pioneers

Kim and Sam forged their friendship during a mountain bike ride two years ago, both invited by friends in common. When the group was finished riding for the day, Kim wanted to keep going so Sam jumped on her wheel for one more lap. That led to another and a few more after that. They discovered they shared a love for the outdoors and the ability to ride "until our legs fall off."

Little did they know that their shared passion would be the groundwork for their big adventure across Oregon.

Mount Shasta in the distance as their journey north begins

Mount Shasta in the distance as their journey north begins

The idea was hatched after Kim vacationed in Colorado and discovered that it was possible to ride from Durango to Denver on trails (mostly). She pitched the idea of tackling the Colorado Trail to her husband, and when he graciously declined, Kim invited Sam who accepted immediately.

As they planned the trip they realized that the Colorado altitude and afternoon thunderstorms could be hurdles, not to mention the time and cost to travel. As luck would have it, a mutual friend of theirs suggested riding across their home state.

So here they are...Day 1 of what will someday be called The Oregon Timber Trail.

When finished Kim and Sam will be the first people to pedal across Oregon on knobby tires. The stoke factor for riding in their ‘backyard’ is high. They’re also excited to be exploring a new frontier. “There’s something extra special that drew us into it, this idea of pioneering something and then being able to look back on it years later and think, wow, we got to be a part of something big."

Photographer and writer Leslie Kehmeier followed Kim and Sam on their adventure across Oregon in July of 2016.

Read all of her accounts here: PART 1 | PART 2 | PART 3 | PART 4

This story was originally published on Club Ride.