ZUKIWORLD ADVENTURE SERIES:
LaPine to Christmas Valley, Oregon Overland Adventure.
Editor: Eric Bewley Story: Bryan Zeigler Photo: Sara Bewley, Bryan & Jim Zeigler
CHRISTMAS VALLEY, OR – Last fall Eric invited me out to Oregon to ride in the season finale Adventure Series ride of 2004. He was planning a trip from LaPine to Christmas Valley in mid-November. I had read the Zukiworld article on a previous trip to the same area and definitely wanted to go along on this adventure.
As Eric got to work making sure the ZUKIWORLD Project Samurai: “Hermey” equipped with Trail Tough’s suspension and 33 inch tall BFGoodrich MT tires was ready for me to abuse for a few days, I got on the phone looking for a copilot for the weekend. My Dad and I have taken many memorable trips throughout my life. Usually, we just pick out an area, fly out, get a rental car and roam around finding local sites and things to do. I mentioned to him that I had been invited to go on a 4-wheeling trip in Oregon. I am sure he initially thought that I was talking about one of my usual trips, camping in one area and bash your truck all weekend. When I explained that the Overland Adventure was a trip like we usually take, but done in 4×4’s off road and you camp instead of renting hotels, he was eager to give it a try.
Before we knew it Dad and I were on a plane heading to Oregon to experience a weekend of wheeling like I have never done before. As soon as we arrived in Oregon the Good Times began. On our way to Eric’s we stopped by to meet Greg Fuller of Donkeyworx and his family. They had already arranged for us to all meet and have dinner that night just down the road from Greg’s house. We sat around for hours, talking, eating and enjoying a few Oregon brewed beverages as we got to know a little about each other. Just like I had expected, Eric, Greg, their families and friends took us in like one of their own and made us feel at home even though we were on the other end of the country.
Later that night as I prepared for bed, one of local sayings kept running through my head, “Good Times”. It was a saying I had heard many times talking to Eric on the phone and thought nothing about. Then earlier that night, I also heard it form many different people as we sat there, relaxed and just talked. Little did I know, that by the end of the weekend I would realize that “Good Times” is not just a statement made by locals, but a true heart felt expression that one has to experience to truly understand.
The following morning we woke up eager to meet the rest of the group and start the adventure. Eric had spoken of these mysterious “open public lands” they had out there. Wide open spaces for everyone to enjoy with 100’s, no 1000’s of miles of desert back roads just waiting for someone like me to adventure down and see where it goes. A public land in Tennessee is a designated ‘Park’ where you only can do certain things at certain times and only in certain areas. We could not wait to get out and experience the mountains and deserts of Oregon.
Left to right: On the road towards Ft. Rock, First night’s camp Cabin Lake, Powerline road
After meeting up at Eric’s and packing our trusty steeds, we were on our way. It was a beautiful drive up through the mountains to the beginning of the adventure. High passes, beautiful streams, and awesome overlooks were everywhere. After meeting up with the rest of the group (1-Sidekick, 2-Samurai, and 1-Tracker) we were on our way.
Over the next few days I was so relaxed and ‘one with nature’ that it all blends together. Out in the Oregon Back Country, time seems to stand still, yet pass you by before you know it. Things you see and experience burn into your mind in great detail, yet all blend together in one great memory. The sites, the sounds, the friends, the fellowship; They all blend together and put you into a state of euphoria that can only be experienced in nature: “Good Times”.
The next few days were spent driving desert back roads and trails where we rarely saw another vehicle, much less pavement. We saw abundant wildlife as we drove along and camped in places like Cabin Lake and in the middle of The Lost Forest (A forest so far away from any other natural stand of trees (40 miles) that it baffles scientist how it survives on so little rainfall). Eric took us to see many of the beautiful volcanic formations in the area. He showed us dormant volcanic craters named Hole in the Ground due to it’s resemblance to a hole in the ground, Huge volcanic rock outcroppings Fort Rock, Crack in the Ground resembling a crack in the ground, and we even got to go spelunking in a lava tube out in the middle of the desert. To top all of the sight seeing off we even got to play in some sand dunes (a first in a 4×4 for this off-roader).
Left to right, top to bottom: Wall of Ft.Rock, Inside Ft. Rock, Plague, Fueling up in the ‘town’ of Ft. Rock, one of many water wells along the way, looking up at Crack in the Ground.
The entire weekend was an incredible experience: Dad and I getting to spend time together as I introduce him to a part of my life he has not yet experienced, all of the old friends I got to meet again or in person for the first time, the new friends we made, the sites, the sounds, the wildlife, the weather; They all blended together into one great weekend adventure that can summed up by two simple words, Good Times!!!!
Left to right, top to bottom: Breaking camp in the lost forest, Fighter Jets performing combat maneuvers above us, poser shot on the dunes, watching at ‘the jump’, typical cinder cone, admiring Cabin Lake, Lost Forrest Camp site, The Jackelope are sure big in this bit of country!, poser shot on dunes, Group at the entrance to Derrek Cave, scenic shot.
Zig’s Adventure Series Trip Suggestions:
This is a trip that can be taken my most any one in a stock 4×4 that can handle whatever nature throws at them. If you are not form the North West and plan on attending the Adventure Series Season Finale talk to Eric or any of the other locals before going. The weather can be brutal if you are not properly prepared. Luckily Eric and Greg advised me on what to and not to bring along on the trip. After buying new bags and tents Dad and I were a bit cold at times but comfortable (considering we left 45-60F temps and were camping in 15-45F temps). I would highly recommend this trip to any one that likes to get out in nature and relax, hang out with friends, and see the sites.