Two losers loop Eastern Oregon

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by crazybrit, Jan 9, 2013.

  1. crazybrit

    crazybrit Long timer

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    Fantastic!!! For you "we run smack dab into a locked Roaring Springs Ranch gate which blocked the Old Military Road right at the top of the rim." For us, I don't recall a gate at all at the top of the rim, there was one at the bottom but it was unlocked. We didn't hit locked until we'd turned South and ridden maybe 10 miles along the valley floor.

    Anyways, thanks for posting your report, the fuel can full of gas is amazing. Lucky you hit it, since even after using it you were on vapor by Fields. Yeah, Funnel Canyon looks like a main road and it's a lot better than Old Military but it's not anything I'd want to be riding in the dark dog tired. I thought our experience was fun but you trumped it big time! Thanks again for posting!!!

    Too bad I'd not read the report before we left. Losers!

    ---------------------------------------

    Anyways, here comes day 3.

    We had a good nights sleep at Fields Station. Got up, changed filter skins and had breakfast. I love Fields Station and everything about it, if you've never been, go! but I must admit, I don't like their scrambled eggs. Blech, but the lady was so nice I decide discretion was the better part of valor. Either way I leave still hungry.

    The plan was to ride upto the Alvord. Goof off there, ride back and then find Domingo Pass (which was originally our plan the night before), then head North towards Frenchglen.

    Obviously the land access issues of the night before weighed on us and whether we'd have similar issues exiting to the North. We'd talked the night before to the owner (filling the ice chest) about Roaring Springs Ranch (thanks Humunn for reminding me of the name) but he's already left to go hunting, my assumption is not in the Catlow Valley :D One of the most amusing things to me about exploring is when you talk to locals and try and get "inside scoop". I'm always expecting them to know all and it invariably turns out that 90% never leave the paved roads.

    I call up the BLM @Burns at the semi-suggestion of the people working at Fields and they are beyond useless. Then a guy hanging out there hands us his hunting map which has everything we need. They sell copies at Fields, so we buy one. It looks like we're set to avoid any repeats of yesterday.

    Here was the route:

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    Heading North from Fields, Alvord ahead:

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    Goofing off on the Alvord. Personally I preferred Weed Lake (just South of Harney Lake, which we'll visit tomorrow) as it was softer and you could trivially break the rear loose, much fun, but you can't beat the expanse of the Alvord:

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    After this we rode back South to Fields station. It was cold so we stopped for a hot chocolate and Brian got some fuss:

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    After this it was back on the bikes, South for a short ways then West towards Domingo Pass:

    Just off the highway:

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    Climbing up towards Domingo Pass (Pueblo Mountains):

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    Dropping down the other side towards Catlow Valley:

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    The pass road switchbacking down towards the valley floor:

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    Friend in the road:

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    Brian riding down the switchbacks:

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    At the bottom of the switchbacks you'll reach this gate beyond which is the valley floor. After this the roads are a bit of a maze, map shows dozens of roads. The night before I'd surveyed the map and matched what I thought was the route onto the gps and marked some way points. I turned out to be dead on:

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    From here the route takes us South West away from the valley to more varied terrain, I think this is Box Canyon Reservoir:

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    Towards the right of this picture you can see a rocky outcrop which is a small pass we were about to climb through, straight ahead is Lone Mountain:
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    Climbing up towards the narrow pass:

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    Dropping down the other side, I remember it being loose, rocky and rutted in places, really glad we weren't trying it the night before:

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    Waiting for Brian to come down:

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    After this we took a short break at the bottom overlooking Hawks Valley. I took a cool video here but I seemed to have deleted it :cry

    After this we're on the main Ackley Camp Road (#6126) heading towards Bald Mountain, fun riding, great views:

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    Old sign near the airstrip:

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    Stopped at the junction just before Bald Mountain, to the left past the water tower is a fun climb beyond which is the cabin:

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    The cabin itself, we stopped here on out TAT detour last year, someone had tidied up inside quite a bit since then:

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    <iframe src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/57285085" width="500" height="375" frameborder="0" webkitAllowFullScreen mozallowfullscreen allowFullScreen></iframe> <p><a href="http://vimeo.com/57285085">P1030575</a> from <a href="http://vimeo.com/user7423906">Tony Jones</a> on <a href="http://vimeo.com">Vimeo</a>.</p>

    Not a lot of great prose today, one of the downsides of waiting months before writing the report, anyhow we took a break of about 15 minutes at the cabin and then pressed on taking a short cut on some two-track to cut the corner to Beatty Butte Road, which is the main drag North:

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    On the way we ran into a herd of wild mustang:

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    Brian waiting for me at the junction with Beatty Butte Road:

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    There were 4 or 5 long fun silt sections on this road, the first:

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    Another, no problems as long as you keep the speed up, 50mph plus was about perfect through them:

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    Looking back from higher ground, silty road and Butcher Flat below:

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    Escape route to the North, Frenchglen is out there in the distance:

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    This was a fun section of road, quite a few silty sections. One was deep, rutted and had a couple of right turns and I biffed it good. Brian catches up with me and says "man, someone really messed up along there" :D

    Video I took along that route:

    <iframe src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/57285086" width="500" height="375" frameborder="0" webkitAllowFullScreen mozallowfullscreen allowFullScreen></iframe> <p><a href="http://vimeo.com/57285086">P1030589</a> from <a href="http://vimeo.com/user7423906">Tony Jones</a> on <a href="http://vimeo.com">Vimeo</a>.</p>

    Brian stopped amongst the sagebrush, just before Rock Creek Road:

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    We managed to again run into some private land, about a mile mile before Rock Creek Road. Nothing fenced so we just closed our eyes and rode through quickly. After this we took a right onto Rock Creek Road and it was about 20 miles of fast gravel before we joined back upto OR205. For the next few miles evidence of last years fires was easy to spot alongside the road, finally we dropped into the twisties that lead to Frenchglen.

    Brian had made reservations at the Frenchglen hotel, the main hotel is run by the State of Oregon but the concessionaire has built an overflow property behind called the Drovers Inn. We eat at the Hotel, it's family style and there was a ton of food.
    #21
  2. Humunn

    Humunn Moto Prozac

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    Very nice! Great to see what that area looks like in the daylight. When we rode through their (heading south) in the dark the desert became alive with critters. We had a contest to see who could thump the most jack rabbits. They were everywhere!
    #22
  3. larryboy

    larryboy Chopper Rider

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    Awesome scenery!! :clap

    Rode that route from east to west one time, from the Steens to Paisly, thru Hart Mtn, north of Abert, doubt I could figure out how I did it, but I never saw any gates.
    #23
  4. Mehaniotis

    Mehaniotis Been here awhile

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    You had to cut across Hart mountain little south of Frenchglen .The dirt track you were on went by the Ranger station on Hart Mountain before you dropped down in to the warner valley . Spent many of nights camping and Hunting Chukar in that general area . The Hot Srings a 1/4 mile south of Alvord Ranch was my regular stopmping grounds and the best Milk Shake in Oregon is found in Fields.
    Thanks for the Memories.
    #24
  5. MadChap

    MadChap Been here awhile

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    Mark640 and SuperVW and I found that same locked gate in the middle of the Catlow Valley that you found. We were able slide the gate up and drag the bikes under. Took over an hour in the blazing hot sun. I don't recommend the same to others. Awesome riding out there. The RR on our trip is in my signature line.

    Tim
    #25
  6. Remarksman

    Remarksman Been here awhile

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    Looks like it&#8217;s well past time to get cracking on this ride report!

    Well, three months of not getting to it is pretty much par for the Loser course, right?

    HanksMyBuddy&#8217;s place:
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    Ford Road -- finally hit some dirt after wending our way through the greater Bend metroplex:
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    Intersection with Green Mountain Road:
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    Had some sandwiches for lunch at the gas station in Christmas Valley, after a quick stop at the tractor supply store.

    Fandango, yeah it&#8217;s a little rocky:
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    I just love the way Fandango Canyon has a sharp side and a smooth side:
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    Tony is in this photo somewhere...
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    Day one statistics:
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    Stayed at the Sagerooms in Paisley -- nice large room, and the front porch looks right out onto the main road:
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    Here it is from the front the next morning as we're packing up:
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    #26
  7. Remarksman

    Remarksman Been here awhile

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    Day 2

    It doesn’t get much more wide-open than this:
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    Another rocky stretch:
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    The cattle drive we caught up with:
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    Looking back toward the long powerline road we arrived on, the cattle drive was just on the far rim of the slight valley you can see crossing the powerlines:
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    Heading in toward Hart Mountain and Plush:
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    We had lunch at the Hart Mountain Store:
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    Hart Mountain is, like, an antelope refuge or something:
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    Still in the Hart Mountain area, this was marked Black Canyon road:
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    This is the one that was still "seasonally closed" even though by the calendar it was supposed to be open again. We rode past some signs about Fire Danger Road Closures at the Hart Mtn. Ranger Station without reading them very carefully...

    There is some strange stuff out in the middle of no-where:
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    Old Military Road:
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    My shadow is only 30 feet long, what could go wrong?
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    Beautiful evening colors, thanks to forest fires somewhere:
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    This was the road that led to our first locked gate.

    Statistics for Day 2:
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    #27
  8. Remarksman

    Remarksman Been here awhile

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    Fields Station:
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    I really like this place, despite Tony’s dissatisfaction with the way they cook the eggs. My peeve here is that the mattresses have some kind of rubber cover under the sheet, so I wake up all sweaty. Oh yeah, and they close down at 4:00PM, so you’d better think ahead for food and check-in if you have any kind of long day planned.
    Still, it has a wonderful outpost kind of feel.

    We went up to the Alvord playa just to see it, and messed around a bit. It was pretty darn chilly in the morning.
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    The east side of Domingo Pass is the sort of dent between the two big hills on the left:
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    Looking back toward where the last photo was:
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    Looking west from near the top:
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    Another odd structure in the middle of no-where:
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    The photo name says I think this was Lone Mountain:
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    It was cool because the road sort of goes right into the rocks.

    Tony’s on that road through the rocks:
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    Tony walked quite a long way back to get a video of me coming up the hill with the water tower near the little cabin... dedicated videography, but where is the video? :evil
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    Actually, I have a bunch of videos, but I started trying to put together a nice video of the trip back in October, then gave up and went back to work :-D

    If you look closely, you can see Tony’s dust cloud on the right, and the mustang herd on the left:
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    Moments later, the mustangs run across the road, since mustangs do seem determined to cross Tony’s path :rofl :
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    Tony crossing one of the Silt Pits of Beatty Butte Rd E:
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    This might be the butte that Beatty Butte Road is named after:
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    Guano Slough:
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    Howdy partner, we just rode through Guano Slough.

    The Frenchglen Hotel:
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    We actually stayed in the Drovers Inn, which is behind the historic hotel:
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    Statistics for Day 3:
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    #28
  9. Mehaniotis

    Mehaniotis Been here awhile

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    The odd structure with the greenish roof is a Guzzler put there for wild life. It collects water from condensation that collects on the underside of the corrugated roof. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
    #29
  10. BcDano

    BcDano One Lucky Dude

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    Killer ride guys and great pics. Yet another route I need to ride. Great stuff.
    #30
  11. tundradirtbiker

    tundradirtbiker Been here awhile

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    Great report & photos,
    Tx
    #31
  12. Remarksman

    Remarksman Been here awhile

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    Interesting!
    I thought it looked a little low to be a picnic pavilion -- glad to hear it's collecting water for the animals.
    #32
  13. crazybrit

    crazybrit Long timer

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    Tim. I'd never seen your report before. It's really excellent. I wish we'd read it before we left as there are some cool spots we clearly missed. I'd like to go back and camp but I need to convince Brian and that might not be easy.
    #33
  14. Nijntje

    Nijntje The Riding Dutchman

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    Two losers? Why so self-effacing? You didn't seem like such a bad guy at Fort Rock. :lol3 Great pics though, I've always wanted to ride out there someday. Out of curiosity, what would you say was the longest distance you had to run between fuel stops?
    #34
  15. Remarksman

    Remarksman Been here awhile

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    Oh, we're not bad guys -- not losers in the "scum of society" sense, it's just that we can't ever seem to get an early start, we get lost, we make unrealistic plans, etc.

    When CrazyBrit & I were getting ready to ride the western half of the TAT last year (report here ), we read lots of ride reports. Ride reports where people broke camp and hit the road at 7 AM. Reports where people put in 300 mile days, changed a flat tire, and still arrived before dark.

    Our style is more like: stay at a hotel and still can't get on the road before 10AM. Shortcut the 300 mile planned route, but still arrive after dark. Make it across the creek only to park the bike in a bush on the other side. You get the picture&#8230;

    On this trip, I don't think we ever had any "gas anxiety". Of course, the DRZ with a 4 gallon tank has about 200 mile range, and CrazyBrit had his 6 gallon monster tank on. I think the longest distance between gas would have been 120 or 130 miles, but we spent a few days looping around the area near Fields and Frenchglen. The limitation there is that the gas station in Fields closes at 4PM, and the Frenchglen one probably at 5 or 6.
    #35
  16. crazybrit

    crazybrit Long timer

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    You should read our earlier ride report where we used up half of our seven day supply of Coleman fuel (one of two bottles) on the first night. It sure did make the ground burn a purty color.
    #36
  17. MortimerSickle

    MortimerSickle Semi-Adventurer

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    In other words, true ADVers. :D
    #37
  18. wachs

    wachs just passin' through

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    + 1 :clap More please!
    #38
  19. crazybrit

    crazybrit Long timer

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    Sure.

    So we stayed at the Drovers Inn (attached to the historic Frenchglen Hotel).

    It was another late start, mostly because we were waiting for the temps to warm up, it was around 40 when we went in for breakfast. The food at the Frenchglen is very good but it's not cheap. I think I had pancakes and paid a few extra $$ for fresh berries and bananas.

    Brian had never been to the Steens before so the plan was to head up the paved loop road to the radio tower, take some pics and then do some dirt exploring, we had no real plan, just see where things took us.

    Pic of me, I think looking down over Kiger Gorge, next canyon to the left is Big Indian:

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    Begin minor diversion in time ......

    I'd been to Steens once before on a backpacking trip with inmate jalles and my dog Baron. If you ever find yourself in the area in July you have to hike a few miles up one of the canyons as the wildflowers are spectacular.

    Later standing on the rim road looking down onto Big Indian my thoughts drifted back to the backpacking trip, almost 10 years ago. It seemed like a different time. Lots of bittersweet thoughts run through my head.

    We hiked up the length of Big Indian canyon, camped at the bottom of the headwall

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    The following day we climbed the headwall upto the rim road and camped at Wildhorse Lake which you can see when you look down from the radio tower.

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    I remember the following morning at Wildhorse Lake, my dog was so exhausted from the previous day that I had to drag him out of the tent. He didn't move an inch during breakfast or as we broke camp and was still lying in the same spot as we started to walk away. He was a total trooper as we bushwacked our way down Little Indian and back to the car.​




    Okay, and back to the present:

    They were doing some odd road construction between the overlook for Big Indian and the parking lot at the bottom of the radio tower, bulldozing huge speed bumps of sand, no problem for the bike but it kind of made things hard for the passenger cars after they've put all that past effort into making it passenger car friendly. Not sure what the deal was, maybe some winter erosion control?

    At the carpark it's a short run upto the actual microwave tower, easy on the bike but I'd not want to go up in a passenger car.

    View from the radio tower looking down at the Alvord:

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    Looking down on Wildhorse Lake:

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    From there we hatched a plan that we'd ride down to Diamond, guests at Frenchglen had told us it was a cool town with a nice hotel so we figured we'd check it out. Looking at the map we could see a trail heading North from the Kiger Gorge overlook carpark.

    It started off pretty easy but I was very very cold:

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    Great views of maple groves:

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    Unfortunately we then ran into another private property line and so turned around:

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    Heading back, fine view of Steens:

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    Back at Kiger overlook we decided to drop a little further down the rim road and pick up another trail near to Fish Lake:

    We ran into 3 dual-sports who were camping nearby and briefly chatted to them, they confirmed the track went all the way to Diamond so we pressed on. Almost right away we passed through a grove of maples:

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    Then it was into the more familar sage brush:

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    We passed a few old buildings:

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    Taking a break, Steens in the distance:

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    Brian in the distance:

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    The trail was pretty easy, we had a bunch of possible routes according to the GPS. Occasionally a little dry crossing or bank to rip through:

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    Final drop down towards the desert floor:

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    The a wide open stretch:

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    Before arriving at Diamond:

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    The Diamond Hotel:

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    It's about 3pm. We're both starving, we'd brought some granola bars and eaten them. We should have bought sandwiches. Sigh. Of course dinner at Frenchglen is 6 sharp. Losers. Of course the previous night a couple wandered into the Frenchglen Hotel at 7.30pm asking for dinner, got fed and it didn't seem a problem, so maybe we could eat later tonight. Turns out we're actually too late for lunch at Diamond but they take pity on us and make us some sandwiches. Really nice people and a beautiful place inside. I know Hanksmybuddy is laughing at us two loser Portland poseur liberals right now :D

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    We're talking to a guy over lunch about the Kiger Wild Mustang sanctuary. He's been a dozen times and never seen anything but I can sense that our loser luck has to end sometime:

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    Of course we don't see jack, apart from a nice view:

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    Definitely 90 minutes of my life I'm never seeing again, the road was easy on the bike but nothing special, though I wouldn't have liked to take a passenger car down it:

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    Once we get back to Diamond we take a gravel expressway back to OR205 and then slab it back to Frenchglen:

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    We're back about 5.30. I pop into the Hotel to ask if we can delay dinner until 7.30. "Absolutely not". Ok then.

    We eat dinner at 6pm, I'm not normally (as a vegetarian) much of a fan of paying the same price as the meat eaters for the same food minus the meat, but there is so much food available that I'm not leaving hungry, so I get over it :evil

    We think a little about tomorrow, plan is to reach Burns via Malheur National Wildlife refuge.
    #39
  20. madefrtv

    madefrtv Been here awhile

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    hey fellas, cool trip report
    #40