Four Days From China Hat, Central Oregon Desert

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by liv2day, Nov 5, 2020.

  1. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    For those from other locales, China Hat is a 6,573 ft volcanic butte in the Deschutes National Forest. That name is used interchangeably with the East Fort Rock OHV area, an awesome playground of miles and miles of off-road trails ~4.5 hours from Portland and ~30ish minutes from Bend.

    To the south of China Hat lie acres and acres of BLM land and if you head west after going south, you run into the Fremont-Winema National Forest; another haven of forest service roads and areas to explore.

    All of my previous trips to China Hat have been on a dirt bike, typically multi-day excursions that involve a morning rip, back to camp for lunch (and beer), then an afternoon rip. Those are always a blast, but this time, I wanted something different.

    So, I talked with the usual suspects and a small crew who could manage the time away threw their respective names in the hat and a plan was hatched to bring dual-sport bikes. We'd base camp at China Hat campground and do day rides into the forest and high desert.

    Some teaser pics and an aerial video to get things going.

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    #1
  2. rubberband

    rubberband Will ride for tacos

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    Simply YES!
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  3. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    The first day didn't involve any riding as it took close to 5 hours to get to camp; needed to get everything setup and a fire going as the overnight temps were going to be below freezing every night. A couple of the mornings were downright frigid with temps in the teens, but I'll get to those later.

    First things first, get to the cooler that has the beer and crack one while getting camp setup.

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    Unpack and get a fire going to ward off the chill in the air. Nothing all that exciting, but being out in the desert with a fire going and whisky is just plain nirvana.

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    #3
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  4. Long Trail

    Long Trail ADV Ready

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    Sounds awesome! I really enjoy your reports and love to see the little WR250R mule out there kicking it.
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  5. Bonnie & Clyde

    Bonnie & Clyde Wishing I was riding RTW

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    In! but what is going on in the pic with the DR650 with a tube in the crake case?
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  6. pdedse

    pdedse paraelamigosincero

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    Beautiful! Lovely aerial video. I like to ride alone, but after trying a bit of central OR this summer solo, I found myself thinking it would be nice to have another rider or two along in the event of this or that.
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  7. N-Id-Jim

    N-Id-Jim Long timer

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    Looks like a great fall excursion.. IN
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  8. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    Thanks for the comments @Long Trail, @Bonnie & Clyde, @pdedse, & @N-Id-Jim, glad you all are along for the ride (even if it's a shorter one...lol).

    @Bonnie & Clyde - glad you noticed the hose in the crankcase of the DR. I'll get to that when I get to that day, but suffice to say I was really glad to observe (and not partake) in the process of sucking oil out of that crank to put into the WR :lol2 :lol2 :lol2

    More to come folks, hoping to get day 1 covered tonight before heading out into the woods for some cold camping this weekend.
    #8
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  9. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    Though the daytime temps were going to be nice over the 4 days we were there, we're camping right around 5k feet and the nighttime temps were expected to be cold. I thought cold was going to be around freezing, wasn't expecting to wake up to the teens. Coffee remnants in the bottom of the cup were frozen solid; as was most anything liquid...lol.

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    Rather than get on the bikes right away and head out, the decision was made to wait for the sun to warm things up a bit and go get some dead fall cut so we had plenty of wood for fires.

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    Don't let the image fool you, JP didn't do any of the cutting or loading (though he did help unload...lol). And we'd go get more before the end of the weekend, it was that cold.

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    The planned ride for the day was going to be pretty easy, head south out of the forest and then loop west and north by Paulina Lake before getting back to camp. All told, just 114 miles.

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    The sun was shining and the temps were warming up, so we hit the trail.

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    We hit the small town of Fort Rock and decided to stop for a beer. Because...why not.

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    Small town taverns like this are some of my favorite; great decorations on the wall and good service - can't beat it.

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    Beer consumed and we were back on the trail; riding by Fort Rock and finding our first navigational problem.

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    The workaround involved a long section of deep silt/sand. I remember looking back at one of my buds with his legs flailing and going off into the sage; and JP riding up cussing my name...lol.

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    We made it up a couple of short climbs in the soft crap and got back on track; going around the Hole in the Ground. Had a great ride around and started making our way north toward Paulina Lake.

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    Paulina Lake is absolutely stunning, pristine alpine lake with good fishing and just an awesome place to visit. Shut down for the season when we arrived, we took a minute to stop and take it in.

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    Our DR rider thought he was running out of fuel, which was crazy as we hadn't gone that far, but rather than risk getting caught out, we cut the route short and headed back to camp. Only cut 10ish miles from the route, but would still have liked to see it. Next time.

    Back at camp the whisky came out, the beers started flowing, and the food started getting made. Camp fire going and the rest of the night was killer; great food, friends, beer and whisky and bench racing. Damn good day out.

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    #9
  10. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    If you have a few minutes to waste, put a video together from day 1. The drone footage in some of the clips is a little wonky - the goofy camera had a calibration issue that was resolved after landing.

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  11. slogger

    slogger Been here awhile

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    Damn!!! You guys are doing it right! Keep it coming.

    Your campground bar is pretty impressive.
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  12. N-Id-Jim

    N-Id-Jim Long timer

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    Brilliant ! Loved the sky-cam vid too.

    Well done.
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  13. Comrade Art

    Comrade Art Working stiff

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    Fun times :thumb
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  14. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    Had some time and put a video together for the 2nd day's ride; planning to update the report this evening with pics and the story of how the day unfolded...and why there was a tube shoved into the case of one of the bikes :eek7 :lol2

    #14
  15. Long Trail

    Long Trail ADV Ready

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    Another awesome video @liv2day thanks for putting that together. Excellent song choice as well. (Much better than the song from day1 :hide lol).
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  16. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    Thanks @Long Trail! And LOL to the song comment, not a fan of the Allman Brothers eh :D :lol2. It's all good, I will always go back to Tool when struggling for to find a song to lay under the track.
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  17. Bonnie & Clyde

    Bonnie & Clyde Wishing I was riding RTW

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    There is always a correct TOOL for the job at hand
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  18. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    It's been long enough that I don't remember which morning had temps above freezing when we woke up, but I think it was the 2nd day. And when I say above freezing, it was 34...but it felt nice and balmy after waking up the previous morning to 17. That warmth was short lived though, the next two mornings were in the low 20s.

    I was really looking forward to the day's route as we'd head further east and south on different tracks with a stop in Christmas Valley for fuel before heading west to the Fremont-Winema national forest.

    Messed around camp for a while in the morning while waiting for the sun to warm things up a little - small fire to sip the coffee by and some killer concord grapes brought by one of the guys.

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    These were full a couple nights ago...good thing there were more bottles in reserve (though JP and I did have to make a run for more...lol).

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    The loop I laid out was just shy of 157 miles; which is what I'd consider perfect for a day ride during this time of year.

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    It's pretty damn cool riding out from China Hat and it's huge conifers that changes to high desert with sage and junipers spread here and there. A bit more than a gradual change, you'll be bombing along the track with massive trees all around and then within the span of 1/4 mile, you're in the desert. It's not all like that across all the paths leading south, but lots of them are.

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    I'd stopped after we got through the gate (2 pics previous) to get the drone out and shoot footage of the guys ripping though the desert. Captured a bunch of good footage of them riding, then flew it back to me and jumped on the bike to go meet 'em.

    I get to where they're all stopped and this is what I find.

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    Turns out the WR has been leaking oil whilst we've been riding and the dipstick is dry. We were miles from anywhere, so a tube was shoved into the DR and some oil was pulled out of it in hopes that we could get to Christmas Valley and buy some oil.

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    TR took it easy riding the WR, but we still enjoyed the rip in the desert on some fun tracks.

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    I think it was on this section that JP had the only off for the whole weekend; we hit a fairly deep silt bed and he got cross-rutted ending up on his arse. I was pretty close to eating shit too, damn stuff is nasty.

    Made it to the cross road that'd take us toward Xmas Valley and saw a truck coming down the road. Flagged it down to check if the driver might have any oil and we were in luck. Dude was heading out look for Elk - using a .60 cal black powder rifle. Frickin' cool as hell.

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    Gatorade bottle of shame...LOL.

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    Topped off on oil, we hit the tracks again and had a great time roaming through the high desert.

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    Made it to Christmas Valley to top off on fuel, get a quart of oil and some snacks, and hang out for a few before starting the return trek to camp. Gas station was a hopping place, this guy pulled in with a seriously sweet rig - he was heading out into the wild for elk hunting too.

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    And this fella came riding through too.

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    The ride through Winema-Fremont wasn't terribly exciting, a main FS road that was graveled and well graded. Tons and tons of off-shoots that just beg to be explored though...some other time.

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    Made it back to camp with plenty of daylight to get the fire going and start chow.

    It was dusty...and this is a face only a mother could love, even without the dust :lol2 :lol2

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    My mutt

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    Scorched earth from starting the fire with gas...draw a line out from the ring, light the line and stand back...lol.

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    I'm a fan of cooking in cast iron in general and whenever I'm out truck camping, I haul a Dutch oven and make something good. There's just nothing like it IMO.

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    After a solid day's ride, there's nothing like sitting around a fire - bench racing and talking shit.

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    Stayed up late enough to check out the Milky Way and try to capture a couple decent pictures...still working on it.

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    Dog wasn't crazy about the freezing ass temps...lol.

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    That's a wrap for day 2, good day and night all the way around :D :D
    #18
  19. pdedse

    pdedse paraelamigosincero

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    My goodness! The camping looks great, the riding superb...I think I need to expand my circle of friends.
    #19
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  20. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    Thanks @pdedse, appreciate it. Getting out with a good group of friends for a long weekend of camping and riding is a solid reset most anytime, but especially important with the uncertainty and discourse we're experiencing now. I enjoy trips like these, but I also thoroughly enjoy getting out by myself for solo journeys. Did a 7-day trip this past summer and it was one of the best rides of my riding career.

    There's nothing like that solitude; and on the other hand, there's nothing like the camaraderie of riding with a small group of good friends.
    #20
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