The Fall Classic High Desert Overland Adventure
High Desert Adventure in Central Oregon
Editor: Eric Bewley Photo: B. Bagwell, D. Arnold
LaPine, Oregon – This years overland adventure, known as the Fall Classic, was a bit different. Instead of going to the Christmas Valley dunes which are always fun but a little be too far out, we opted to try a new area just south of base camp. This area called the Winter Ridge is south of Ft. Rock and west of Summer Lake. A dramatic ridge sprouting high above the desert floor, the weather, climate, vegetation, everything is quite different to the surrounding areas. One of the best portions of the Oregon Back Country Discovery route goes through here which we ran several years ago and weve always wanted to return to. This year was the year to return.
A significant part of this year group went over a day early to get a little bit more out of the trip. There is always plenty to do and the more time one can spend there the better it seems. After meeting at the LaPine gas station on Friday it was over the river and through the woods in an unusual way to the usual camp spot near Cabin Lake. All of this was done Friday. A camp was made and a night run organized where an adventurous group took off for the hills in the snow and darkness. First things first on Saturday and thats visiting our Geo Cache. Started several years ago, our cache doesnt get a lot of visits but does have some good things to trade out. The boys had a good time finding it as it always seems to move a bit and exploring its contents and message log. We were off to Hole in The Ground. This drive is my personal favorite and I really enjoy rallying through the trees between Cabin Lake and Hole in the Ground. Its just the perfect mix of sand, dirt, and rock with nice jumps and bumps along the way. We got to Hole in the Ground and settled for a group picture at the makeshift fort / camp spot and looked down at the wondrous place we used to be able to visit easily. Next stop, Ft. Rock..
We headed towards Ft. Rock and enjoyed a nice warm patch of weather where several took a hike as others had lunch and enjoyed the only public flush facilities for miles and miles. After a fuel stop at the town, we headed a new direction off to Winter Ridge and began seeing some fun and interesting trails, mountains, streams, roads, and man made items. Whats weird about this part of the forest is that its part of the Fremont National Park and there are a lot of improvements. At one point, probably back in the 50′s or later, this area got some serious funding. There are nice facilities in the middle of nowhere, paved roads, and good signage. So, it doesnt seem like youre out there as much but it is such a nice area to visit it doesnt matter.
We came to Fremont Point just before sunset and was greeted by some serious wind and snow. It was sideways on the ridge and our time there was abbreviated because of the harsh conditions. Where the impressive fire lookout once stood was a new and still under construction building thats purpose was unknown. Ironically, the old fire lookout burned down in a fire a few years back so this ridge was even more dramatic because all of the trees and brush was gone. We could easily see miles and miles in any direction and see the entire Summer Lake valley.
We got back to camp pretty late and most of the group headed off for a night ride to enjoy the trail just a little bit longer. A hill climb was conquered and some fuel burned as the group made their way to the West and North of base camp. Back at camp the group set up some nice lights for a group chili feed potluck and also partook in some extra activities too.
More of the same fun as the group headed out Sunday morning to go home. The larger group split into a couple of groups based on how much more adventure was wanted and everybody headed to adventure or home by mid morning.
The phrase what happens at the Fall Classic stays at the Fall Classic not because its clandestine but because its just so dang fun we dont want to over share and blow your mind. If you think this adventure is for you, please follow the updates on the Adventure part of the website and on the forum.
The Next Fall Classic will be the weekend before Thanks Giving Holiday.