I’m taking a different approach to this posting. I thought I’d share with you some of my life, how I fit activity into my day, and I’d like to share my most recent vacation. I suppose it’s like a trip review but I promise I’ve received no incentives to do the reviews or recommendations in here. Now, it’s not quite the epic trip the PCT was but Active Women is about encouraging you to get out. As cool as taking a full summer off to hike may seem, the reality is, it’s very difficult for most people to do that but perhaps you may be able to shift the nature of your vacations to support activity or incorporate more into your daily lives. And so I present to you…
Our 10th wedding anniversary trip! Yay! To celebrate, we decided to do a little road trip through Oregon for biking, hiking, the coast…and beer (oh, Oregon, how I love thine beer!). Having never been to the coast, we were quite excited but we both knew that driving down a road isn’t our style. Nor is simply sitting on a beach for multiple days much fun (I don’t mind doing that for a day or so but definitely not for over a week!). We figured combining it with some great active components would allow us to expend some energy first and then enable us to enjoy the chill, downtime of the ocean.
We started out in Bend, getting into town late afternoon, and immediately headed downtown for a late lunch at a little middle eastern restaurant I remembered for having excellent falafel (I’m a true sucker for falafel…). Mazza Bistro didn’t disappoint and, accompanied by a pint of Boneyard Brew, our first official day of out trip commenced! Next stop was the Crowsfeet Commons bike shop to get some local Intel on trails and a recommendation for a 1.5 hr-ish ride we could squeeze in before heading out to find a campground. We hit the Mrazek trail for a simple, non-technical ride that, unfortunately, left us quite underwhelmed. That’s the thing with Bend riding: the trails are fantastic for full-day rides due to the simplicity. No technical skills are required and anyone in moderate shape could probably bang off 20 km with little difficulty, regardless of bike level. On the flip side, if you’re a beginner, what a great place to ride! But it was great to stretch the legs and let Shasta run and, as we say, it’s always a good day when you’re on your bike! A quick pit stop for groceries and we headed up past Mt. bachelor to find a campsite.
As we drove, the skies grew darker and more ominous. We left Bend in sunny, 24 C weather but as we climbed higher, the clouds continued to blacken and the temperatures suddenly dropped. In the freezing cold, pouring rain, we hastily set up our tent, dove in, and ate chips for dinner. Neither of us were getting out to cook in this. The next morning there was ice on the tent which pretty much stipulated we snuggle up with Shatsa and ignore the day for a couple more hours. Finally crawling out around 9am, we fired up the stove for coffee and organized the camp chairs to sit in the sun. All of a sudden, I looked up and around me and realized we were in an absolutely stunning location! I had to pull out the map book to confirm that I was looking at one of the famous 3 Sisters mountains in Oregon (South Sister, or Charity, at 3,157 m/10,385 ft). Wow, wow, wow! Spirits rocketed as we enjoyed our (so very nice and hot) coffee.
Talks turned to what we wanted to do that day. Given our less-than-stellar ride yesterday, and our knowledge of the trails (it was our 2nd visit to Bend), we opted to head over to a hiking trail that would lead us to a nice alpine lake. Here, we discovered that the South Sister is totally hikeable with a trail to the summit…but given our noon-o’clock start, a wee late to make it. Next time! An easy but lovely hike, we headed to a Craft Brewery for a late lunch/early dinner and finished up the day with the obligatory campfire and beers.
When we woke up the next morning and found a solid ice layer over Shasta’s water dish, we opted for a lazy start again. At around 1900 metres (6,200 ft), turns out the nights were really cooling down! On this day, we had decided we were going to pack up and head to Oakridge, OR so the plan today was go for a ride late morning, come back and pack, drive on! I had really wanted to do the Skyliners trail – no particular reason other than I was hoping for a decent view and it should only be about a 2 hour ride. Well, we eventually had to concede that after about two hours of riding and nothing making sense on the map, we were lost(ish…!) The thing about being lost while biking is you can generally find somewhere, eventually, that is a landmark and the trails always lead to “someplace”: a trail head or road. You may end up out for a significantly longer ride than intended but you’re never truly lost. Plus, you can always turn around and do an out-and-back. Finally meeting up with another rider, we were informed we were on the Flagliners trail…oops! Luckily, the full ride up, we kept saying how much fun it looked to be if we did decide to turn around so when we reached a pretty good spot for a quick snack we opted to turn it into the out-and-back and we FLEW down those trails! Bend biking definitely allows you to really open up the speed. On the road a couple of hours later than we had anticipated, we rolled into the Salmon Creek campground in Oakridge, set-up camp, and headed to The Brewers Union for dinner…heck yes, great food! A large group of locals were also enjoying the beer and, after a bit of chatting, it turned out that one of them, Randy, owned the shuttle company we had planned on seeking out the next day. That was easy!
The Alpine Trail: Oakridge’s marquee trail. We had been told by no less than 3 other friends/couples to make sure we do it. It’s approximately 24 km (15 miles) of beautifully built, swoopy trail that takes you through incredible forests. There’s also the “ATCA” loop (Alpine-Tyre-Cloverpatch-Alpine) that can be added on which results in a 45 km (28 miles) trail with nearly 1400 m (4,500 ft) of climbing…OK! The Alpine trail totally lived up to the hype and I can, without hesitation, 100% recommend this trail to anyone. The rest of the trail was just as epic and fun but with the additional length and climbing, one must definitely be in good biking shape prior to attempting it! And skip Tyre Mountain summit – at less than 1 km to the top, we decided to bike/hike-a-bike up to the summit…and were thoroughly disappointed. There was absolutely no view due to the heavy forest and the effort up was tremendous (lots of downed trees). But the rest of the trail was great and I’ve now accomplished my longest bike ride! We celebrated that night with amazing BBQ at the Smokin’ Oak BBQ out of a little food truck/trailer – we figured we had earned it!
I’m sure it’s not too surprising, given the long ride, that we found ourselves quite tired the next day! Shasta was a trooper during the epic ride (at 9 1/2 yrs, we do worry about her!) and although she slowed down significantly near the end, she had a smile on her face the whole time, too! Worried about her state though, we took a rest day. While enjoying an Americano outside, a local pulled up beside us and asked if we knew about the waterfall and nearby hot springs! An easy walk followed by a soak in natural hot springs suited us just fine 🙂
Our last day in Oakridge had us wishing we could spend more time and seriously debating about nixing the coastal idea and just staying here. There were so many more trails we wanted to try and I really, really, really wanted to hit the Alpine Trail again (just the Alpine Trail!). In the end, we hit up a the 16 km out-and-back Larison Creek Trail, a surprisingly technical, rooty trail that reminded me of riding in Squamish, BC. Without a doubt, I was still tired and was a bit slower than I had wanted to be but…meh, who cares?! Prior to heading out, we stopped at the Stewart’s 58 Drive-In and were utterly shocked that this place was serving local, organic, home made burgers! I had my doubts about the place: a highway diner in the US? I figured it would be a greasy, frozen patty on a 3-day old bun. Was I ever wrong!
Our next couple of days were uneventful but relaxing and lovely. We stayed 2 nights in Newport, OR at the Whaler Motel with a balcony overlooking the ocean and, essentially, just ate and drank our way through town. Since we were on the coast, we attempted to eat as much seafood as possible! Our mornings started with coffees and a pastry from the Panini Bakery, conveniently a 3 minute walk away. Strolling along the beach, Shasta could run wild…but she didn’t. I think she was overwhelmed by the smells! The standout for me, by far, was the crab cakes at Dead End Cafe. We stopped there for a mid-afternoon snack and ended up going back there for dinner. Did I mention the crab cakes (it was Dungeness Crab season)?! Holy smokes – so good! But we also had some great seafood chowder and popcorn shrimp & chips on the harbour front at Gino’s and we also had the greatest Americano we’ve ever experienced at Surf Town Coffee Company. Upon leaving, we meandered up the coastline, stopping to check out little towns or to eat Tillamook Ice Cream along the way. We definitely enjoyed the coast: the shorelines and ocean are obviously stunning!
I would definitely head back…but for a surf trip! You gotta burn off all those beer and chowder calories somehow!
Oh yeah, and there were seals:
I’d also love to hear about your trips! Have you had an active vacation lately? Have you tried a new experience recently? Perhaps you just hiked the West Coast Trail or tackled your first running race or got on a mountain bike for the first time. I’d like to hear about it and share your story with others! Contact me – you don’t need to be a pro writer!