The Best People, Best Weather, Best Terrain for Adventure
Editor: Eric Bewley Photo:
S. Bewley, B. Bagwell, D. Arnold, G. Fuller
Christmas Valley, OR – As long as can be remembered, we have never been more blessed with the most mild and gentle weather than that which we had for this adventure. This year brought a lot of familiar faces and some new adventurers too that decided to join us for fun. They certainly weren’t disappointed as this weekend could not have been more perfect for adventure.
Friday started with several different groups heading from their home destination descending on LaPine. This town is perfectly situated on Hwy 97 right smack dab in the middle of everything that is fun! The plan was to meet at a local gas stop and restaurant at 1 PM. After that, we would begin to make our way to the camping spot. To our pleasant surprise, everyone had beat us to the rendezvous point so we did not have to wait for anyone… Wait a second, where’s our friends Ron and Stasi? Just an hour ago they were ahead of me on the highway. What happened?
After a couple of phone calls, we got word that Ron and Stasi had decided to take a short cut through the Three Creeks area South of Sisters. This area is substantially higher in elevation than where we were going to be playing for the weekend and they had ran into some snow trouble and had to back track several miles to get back on course. That short cut didn’t take.
We begin our adventure heading West out of LaPine. Our group was minus two vehicle now because one of the participants decided to trailer their camp and vehicle into base so they were instructed on where to meet us in a few hours and went along their way. Our journey took us over the mountainous area just to the South and West of LaPine. This area is an interesting mix of volcanic soils, rocks, and trees. At about mile 20, we came across a smaller cave that was in need of exploring. In this area there are several lava tube type caves. Most caves are known of; some are not. This one was full of ice and not able to be explored. We continued on and made camp about a hour before dark.
Saturday morning and many are up and ready for the day’s challenge. It was a cold evening as one might guess with a clear evening but the temperatures didn’t seem to dampen anyone’s spirit.
Our first stop was a place that we have been going to for several years. There is an old water well and pump house near camp that has a geocache. We have made it a habit to stop there, check in with the geocache and logbook, and see how the well house is doing.
After the logbook was written in and a trade was made for the precious little yellow ducky, we made our way to Hole-in-the-ground. This is a very neat geological feature that just begs to be explored. There is a trail all the way around the rim and a primitive trail that is the remnants of an improved road that goes down into the bottom of the crater. So we headed down to the bottom to look around and then headed back out again to say we did.
Next stop is Fort Rock. This is a large geological feature that one can see for miles and miles and it’s size serves as a great way to keep your bearings. We stopped here at the state park, had lunch, and hiked around a bit.
Orange flags unfurled it is time for Christmas Valley dunes. This is one of the true OHV gems in the state. The dunes have sand that is usually pretty packed making it quite enjoyable for lower-horse powered vehicles. We all played around the dunes for several hours and then we had our first major breakage of the adventure.
One of the Sidekicks had the unfortunate problem of a broken radiator. The top plastic tank had broken and several attempts at repairing it with various epoxies and treatments didn’t work. We ended up towing it back to camp over 60 miles of trails and roads and ended up at camp several hours after dark. Which worked out well for part of the group that enjoys wildlife spotting after dark.
Sunday morning was quite cold but actually seamed warmer than the night before. We must have been getting use to the cold or maybe it was the whiskey? We may never know. Late Sunday morning we broke camp and loaded up our vehicles for the journey north towards Hwy 20 and Bend. Along the way, we played on some of the 4×4 friendly trails of the East Fort Rock trail system. Some of these trails are really fun and can be just a plain hoot with the rolling jumps and bumps while some are quite trying on the patience with short choppy bumps that toss you back and forth like you’re riding a teeter-totter for miles and miles. We had a chance to experience both.
A couple of low gas tanks, a broken sway bar, and a lot of dust later we made it to Bend for a traditional feast held at the Black Bear restaurant. The nice people at this establishment don’t say anything about our outback odor and cleanliness and we appreciate that. Several stories and lies, lies I tell you, were told around the dinner table as we enjoyed their fabulous food. After dinner, we broke off into several groups and headed back over the Cascades towards home having successfully enjoyed another Fall Classic adventure.
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