Can I still camp? 3.5 nights, Central Oregon...and RLS

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by pdedse, Aug 28, 2020.

  1. pdedse

    pdedse paraelamigosincero

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2007
    Oddometer:
    2,181
    Thanks, looks like you're in Tucson? Before OR, we lived in Chandler and my daughter currently studies at U of Az.
    #21
  2. pdedse

    pdedse paraelamigosincero

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2007
    Oddometer:
    2,181
    So now I know that the smoke cloud I was seeing was the White River Fire, which apparently was caused by lightening on Aug 17 and had grown to over 15k acres as of 8/29. I got to Antelope and wanted to see if I could find anything out about the fire ahead, but no service. The route I had in mind was Antelope to Shaniko, then take 97 southwest over to 197 then north to Maupin and look for campiste around that area. Or keep going on the blue 216 into the green NF area of Mt. Hood, only two hours away from where I live, but I didn't want to ride at night and it had been a long day already, so campsite anywhere really...just not in the midst of a huge plume of smoke.

    [​IMG]
    Didn't know it at the time, but the red dotted line was the forest fire area.

    Starting to ride under the cloud...

    [​IMG]


    I got to Shaniko and service was back, so I noticed that just a mile beyond Shaniko there was a lesser road called "Bakeover" that would take me into Maupin and it looked like it would move away from the smoke, whereas 97 looked like it would take me right into it. So NW on Bakeoven, or anything that would take me towards the blue-ish sky and away from that smoke:
    [​IMG]

    Bakeoven would head north, then curve west, then NW, then west, then north as it meanders over to Maupin. Little by little it started dawning on me that Maupin was going to be in the thick of things...and what, 630pm? Ugh, another turn coming up towards that...

    [​IMG]

    A shame with the smoke because the entry into Maupin would have been a wonderful ride:
    [​IMG]

    As it was, I felt like I was riding into Armaggedon, sun was completely blocked out, ash particles were falling, UPS driver had pulled over on the side of the road and was looking at his GPS map...did he know something I didn't? Well, I could always head back to Shaniko and take 97 north to the Columbia River and hiway 84, but that didn't sound fun. So I descended into Maupin and guy at gas station confirmed what I was expecting, that hiway 216 towards Mt. Hood was closed and in fact they were evacuating along that route. So my only option was to take 197 north and towards the I-84. There were clear skies in that direction. But I was really getting tired.

    Looking south on 197 back towards Maupin where I had just ridden through
    [​IMG]

    But I was getting away from it, eyes, nose, throat burning a bit, but the air was definetly fresher now
    [​IMG]

    Beautiful "sunset"...lots of folks besides me pulling over to take pretty pictures
    [​IMG]
    #22
  3. pdedse

    pdedse paraelamigosincero

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2007
    Oddometer:
    2,181
    There was still a bit of light, probably around 730 when I finally found a "good enough" spot about 15 miles north of Maupin on 197. I could have pushed on through to I-84 and then home and been there by 10pm, but I was curious as to whether I'd sleep any better. Got the tent up, my last Omeals' packet warmed up, and then when it got quiet I realized that I would be seranaded by the hiway traffic. I don't think I had much choice though; had I continued I'd be looking for something in the dark and that wouldn't be fun.

    Pretty enough spot, but that's 197 right in front of me and it takes cars between 4 and 6 seconds to traverse this particular section.
    [​IMG]

    But very glad to be away from the smoke!
    [​IMG]

    The first few hours of darkness convinced me that I would simply have to start taking some meds for RLS if I'm ever going to camp again. It's different at home--it still bothers me, but I can get up, walk around, read, watch a movie, check emails, work even--but in a tent, all bundled up in the sleeping bag, no cell service, eyes too tired to read...I begin to feel like a caged animal as the knees are having the fizzy party. I got up and paced back and forth from tent to the edge of the road for about an hour and a half. Lay down to try again...nada. At some point you'd think one would just fall asleep because of the other nights, the long day...nope...double nada.

    About 12:30 I got up again and it smelled like smoke. Put my headlamp on noggin and was startled by the number of insects flying all around. What the hay? Thought maybe the smoke was driving them into the air or something. Then I realized they weren't insects flying around; rather, it was the wind carrying pieces of ash in the air. Looks like the smoke/ash cloud caught up with me because of a change in wind direction. Tried laying down for another half hour but the smoke was getting stronger, more than just a little annoying.

    So not 4 nights of camping... let's call it 3.5. It was time to get going because I wasn't sleeping and this stuff was messing with my senses. Broke down the tent, got everything packed away and put on the bike, checked and double checked that I hadn't left anything behind in the dark...and started north on 197. Deer crossing signs every couple of miles. And my vision is kinda blurry from fatigue and smoke. Didn't feel comfortable riding faster than 50/55, but fortunately only a handful of cars passed me till I got to I-84 at The Dalles.

    The air never smelled so clean as when I got on 84 heading west towards Gresham. No deer sited. Just before 4am, opened up garage and rolled right in. Not the way I was hoping to end the trip, but I was gratefull it turned out as well as it did.
    #23
  4. Ladybug

    Ladybug Bug Sister Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2005
    Oddometer:
    17,883
    Location:
    Spokane Valley, WA (the dry side of the mountains)
    I sure hope you are able to find a solution to sleeping in a tent.
    #24
  5. wesley1117

    wesley1117 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2008
    Oddometer:
    28
    Location:
    Birmingham, AL
    Enjoyed reading about this ride! Definitely check out hammocks if you don't sleep well in a tent. I have one from www.dream-hammock.com called a "Dangerbird" that I've had for several years with no issues. So much better on my back.

    I'm curious - like - I know campgrounds make it obvious, but how to you make sure where you're camping is somewhere it's legal to camp? I'm guessing a lot of the time you just are looking for a spot out in the country that isn't visible from the road?
    #25
  6. pdedse

    pdedse paraelamigosincero

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2007
    Oddometer:
    2,181
    Will have to look more into hammocks!

    I dislike established campgrounds...lots, particularly if they charge. Would prefer behind a gas station. When I'm in the national forest areas (green on map below), it's all good. From the the 'net:

    "Can you still camp in national forest?
    Free camping, or dispersed camping, is allowed in all national forests, unless noted otherwise. You can find places to camp on the side of main roads, or follow forest access roads (often gravel or dirt) to more remote sites. ... The general rule is to camp 100-200 feet away from any road, trail, or water source.May 10, 2020"

    upload_2020-9-13_19-6-55.png

    But when you get out there south of Prineville and Burns to border with Nevada and beyond...there's a whole lot of nothing. I think someone would have to be looking for you to spot 'ya.
    #26
  7. pdedse

    pdedse paraelamigosincero

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2007
    Oddometer:
    2,181
    When I did this trip last year, I wasn't quite sure where I'd go when I started out, and it turned out to be Central Oregon. A year later and I had 4 days / 3 nights free so I thought I'd explore more south and hopefully make it to Steens Mountain...turns out 4 days wasn't quite enough to get that far, but Hart Mountain area was a good plan B.

    From Gresham, meandered over to the lovely I-5 south and at Eugene took 58 to cross the Cascades. I've lived in OR 22 years and I never had reason to take this hiway anywhere, so a nice surprise. Lone paddleboarder in front of the dam that forms Lookout Point Lake:
    [​IMG]

    The KLR hit 50k miles somewhere along this hiway
    [​IMG]

    Odell Lake
    [​IMG]

    As soon as I turned to walk back to my bike, I heard a splash and all his friends laughing[​IMG]

    At 5:30, I'd been riding about 4 hours, so it was time to find a spot...decent enough, about 10 miles from hiway 97. My warm weather sleeping bag works great for warm weather in July and August...not so much for mid Sept up in the mountains.

    [​IMG]

    About 1am I put on all my available clothes and mc gear, gloves even.

    Day 2... followed 97 south to Chiloquin where the Sprague River Rd leads east towards Lakeview.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    It's interesting to see where some boats end up
    [​IMG]

    It felt good to get away. I had just spent 9 days helping my daughter move from Tucson to San Diego where she's starting her post grad studies in neuroscience. Her apartment was unfurnished and so we spent the days assembling IKEA furniture, visiting Home Depot about 10 times, buying microwave, fans, bed, night stand, kitchen table and chairs, sofa, tv, tv stand, bike--thank goodness she had some money left over from college savings. It's money well spent as her program is 6 years long, so at least we got her off to a good start. But the La Jolla traffic tends to run about 15-20 mph faster than what I'm used to driving in sleepy Gresham, so it was nice to find some open spaces and put along on the KLR.
    #27
  8. pdedse

    pdedse paraelamigosincero

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2007
    Oddometer:
    2,181
    Just a lot of relaxing country views around the Bly area before Lakeview
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    If I'm ever going to be a farmer, I want to raise electricity
    [​IMG]

    At Lakeview, I thought I'd ask about hotel prices...as I pulled into town, I saw a couple hundred tents set up on a huge lot...a concert? No, "incident camp" where forest fire fighters have their base camp. Very simple hotel was asking $110...I was tired and didn't want another cold night like last night, but I pushed on to Plush. Right where the hiway turns left into town, there is a city park / campground. It had about 5-6 picnic tables, and I wasn't sure it camping was allowed, no one around to ask. But the sign mentioned "campsites" and "quiet hours", so that seemed to indicate it was fine. Plus it was warmer, so I was good to go as I set up over soft green grass--the place all to myself!

    [​IMG]

    I was just about to drift off when it sounded like a thousand pebbles were falling all over my tent. What the...!?! A few seconds, another round...then another. Funny what goes through your mind when it's dark and you're alone in your tent in a tiny town called Plush...

    So who knew that Sunday 9:15pm was irrigation time. For the next hour I got to hear the equivalent of a thunderstorm dump on my rain-fly covered tent. It held up well! I had put most things under the pic-nic table a few feet away, so everything stayed fairly dry. If it's not the RLS acting up, it's the cold and a poor choice of sleeping bag, and naturally, a sprinkler system.
    #28
    Pavement Optional likes this.
  9. pdedse

    pdedse paraelamigosincero

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2007
    Oddometer:
    2,181
    After drying out the tent and some of the gear in the morning sun, it was time to get going towards the Hart Mountain Antelope Refuge. Didn't get far out of Plush when these guys delayed things a bit...
    [​IMG]
    I turned off the engine and they veered to my left.

    North end of Hart Lake
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Stopped at the Hart campground and the camp host was a nice lady who was telling me what to see.
    [​IMG]

    Since I was already into day 3, I was limited to how much time I could spend up there, but the hot springs sounded inviting.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Time to start heading up...
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Nobody bathing at the springs, so it looked like a good spot for lunch and some time to relax
    [​IMG]

    These were the only antelope I spotted; about 50 meters distant and the took off running as soon as I readied the camera
    [​IMG]

    If you like some space, there's plenty to spare
    [​IMG]

    This was turning out to be a good reconnaissance trip for me. I know there's some serious backcountry trips that riders have done in eastern Oregon, but this is all new to me and I wanted to take the time to do a low key trip before I decide to do anything more aggressive. I wanted to see how I would feel riding out from the Portland area, how many days I'd need to explore better. I think next time around, with 6-7 days, I'd get to the hot springs area and use it as a base from which to explore over the course of 3 days. That way I wouldn't have to find a tent site each day, break camp each morning. I don't really have any riding buddies to do a trip with, so I also needed to see logistically what's out there so I don't get in over my head. I'm not a good off-road rider; in fact, I get tired of it after a couple of hours and start looking for pavement. So this was good in that it was allowing me to gather some info.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The Frenchglenn road meets up with 205, and the Steens Mountains beckoned, but the gas was running a little low. I needed to get back at a decent hour on Day 4 to get some things done, but now I think I have a better idea of time and distance to make for a better trip to the Steens.

    Heading down to Frenchglenn...
    [​IMG]

    From there it was an hour north to Berns to gas up and stock up on food for the last night / morning. I knew right where I wanted to camp--the same spot I camped at last year when I explored a bit of central OR. Turn north on route 27 to Prineville and after a few miles there are some nice spots.

    The half-moon was out till about 10, and then it began to sink beyond the horizon--it was good to see what a spectacular show stars can give.
    [​IMG]
    #29
  10. Pavement Optional

    Pavement Optional Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2019
    Oddometer:
    163
    Location:
    CurveAlice, Oregon
    Very nice. I'm hoping to do more exploring in these area when I retire in a couple years. So much to see.
    #30
  11. Meriwether

    Meriwether Following big footprints.

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2012
    Oddometer:
    904
    Location:
    Up the Dandenongs
    Hi there,
    Thanks for your RR, you've triggered some great memories. I love your part of the World, great country and great people. We're still locked up here in Australia, but next year I'll be coming over to pick up my Triumph T160 near Seattle and ship it home out of somewhere/wherever on the West coast. But I'll make sure I ride Hwy 20 through the Cascades once again and then south down through Lewiston and Boise. I camp free every night similar to you, just find a quiet spot somewhere, pitch the tent, early to bed and early to rise.
    Cheers, Mark
    #31
  12. pdedse

    pdedse paraelamigosincero

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2007
    Oddometer:
    2,181
    Hope you have some good riding when you pick up your Triumph. I dislike looking for hotels when mc traveling, but looking for tent sites is kinda of fun in eastern OR. I brought along a good book and plenty of flashlight juice for the nights, but I also wake up 6-7 times in fitfull sleep. I just don't "tent" well. But then the morning sun rises and next day's adventure begins...instead of check-out, it's break camp and you're off.
    #32
    Meriwether likes this.
  13. pdedse

    pdedse paraelamigosincero

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2007
    Oddometer:
    2,181
    Speaking of not sleeping much at night...I woke for the last time at 2am, listened to the coyotes singing in the distance, checked out the stars yet again, read some more...but by 4, it was obvious I wasn't getting back to sleep, and good daylight was 2 hours away. So I made a big "pot of coffee" and started in with breakfast. The camp site was pure dirt-dust, just filthy to try to be outside cooking or heating things up. And it was a chilly night again, so I heated my coffee inside the tent, making sure nothing spilled and that the flame wasn't set too high.

    [​IMG]

    Felt so good to warm up the hands and feet. There's a no burn situation so no camp-fire due to dry conditions, but stoves are ok. I left it on very low for about an hour while sipping coffee and eating breakfast--it was the next best thing to having a camp fire.

    I think it was about 5:15 when the dawn was becoming more obvious. I bought a new Canon XS740 camera back in January and I'm trying to get used to all the settings. It has a 40x zoom and gets quite close when you can stabalize it. I hadn't tried many night shots, but was happy that this one came out and looked fairly true to life:
    [​IMG]

    I also brought along a battery charger-flashlight-phone charger that can be used to jump both cars and motorcycles. It's flashlight gives off great light and will last a long time. It came in handy this morning to make sure I was getting everything packed up and stored while the light was low.

    It was good that I was getting an early start. I wanted to be back in Gresham by early afternoon to get things put away and ready for work. By 6am I was heading north on route 27 to Prineville. A lovely early morning ride. Toes were getting a bit numb but I knew the day would warm up soon.

    [​IMG]

    Going for the blurred background / mirror shot...at least the water spots from the other night's sprinkling are in focus.
    [​IMG]

    Lots of low canyon riding sections interspersed by open, sunny areas to feel the warmth of the sun
    [​IMG]

    Prineville Reservoir
    [​IMG]

    The people that live on the right have a better-than-average view
    [​IMG]

    Just me and this guy were the only ones out here
    [​IMG]

    I did my good deed of the day and kicked that guy off to the side of the road
    [​IMG]

    Riding along the Crooked River...lots of established camp grounds along here, but I think they were all pay sites.
    [​IMG]

    Once I got to Prineville and filled up, I was good to go, just 130 miles back to Gresham over Mt. Hood. About 850 some miles spread out over 4 days, a very nice relaxed pace to stop when I wanted with plenty of time to set up camp each night.

    While at the gas station, I checked my oil, had to add about 1/4 quart as my '07 burns a bit while traveling hiways speeds over long miles. But once again the ol' goat got me where I wanted to go w/out any issues. I've had my KLR for over 13 years and it's sitll going strong at 50k miles. I bought it second hand when it had 2500. I've had one broken fuse over the course of all my rides / commutes--everything else has been maintenance. Because it is aging, I keep thinking I should sell it and start over with a low-mileage, late model DR650--been wanting to try one out for several years. But it's hard to walk away from a bike that has served me so well.

    Hopefully, next summer, Mt. Steens pans out for me. This trip was great to get me steered in the right direction.
    #33
  14. Pavement Optional

    Pavement Optional Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2019
    Oddometer:
    163
    Location:
    CurveAlice, Oregon
    Early-morning riding in eastern Oregon is awesome, esp. with some heated gear. BTW, in your earlier post you mentioned you often didn't have cell service and had to rely on paper maps. Do you know Google Maps, and some other map apps, will let you download maps so you can still navigate where there's no service?
    #34
  15. pdedse

    pdedse paraelamigosincero

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2007
    Oddometer:
    2,181
    Maybe I knew that...prolly not if I'm honest. My daughter told me the other day my I-phone 6 has no more space to download any new apps. She tried deleting a few but that still didn't help. She was trying to help me download Uber for me to get to the airport...didn't work. She told me I need a new phone. I ended calling a yellow cab--she asked me if I trusted that "system". But getting better with map "tech-no-knowledge-y" is one of the goals. I do like my paper maps.
    #35
  16. Pavement Optional

    Pavement Optional Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2019
    Oddometer:
    163
    Location:
    CurveAlice, Oregon
    I like paper too, but the phone sure is handy. One thing I hate about iphones is the lack of an SD card slot. All the extra storage you want, for cheap. Maps do take up some space. you could always buy a cheap used Android for navigation. That's what I did, there's a lot of reasons not to mount your "real" phone on the bike.
    #36
  17. pdedse

    pdedse paraelamigosincero

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2007
    Oddometer:
    2,181
    Oh my, “a second phone”! My wife would expect it was for something else!! But that’s not a bad idea. Eventually I’ll sort things out overthe winter.
    #37
  18. jathkajoe

    jathkajoe Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2009
    Oddometer:
    422
    Location:
    E WA
    Really enjoyed your RR. Great area to explore and ride. I've done a very little there and want to do more. Have tried twice to get to Fields Station for a milkshake and been thwarted. Maybe the third time will work?

    When I replaced my old headlamp with an LED one I wish I had bought one that can be recharged from a USB port. That would save money on replacing AAA batteries. I plug a USB port into the battery charger connection on my Suzuki Vstrom, flashlight could charge while riding in the day and be ready for each night's use.

    Things like RLS make camping a bit more of a challenge. I have my own non-RLS issues but so far can still enjoy camping.

    Keep on riding and writing, you're good at it!
    #38