Sunday, May 26, 2013

Alder Springs Campground, McKenzie Pass, OR

Day 8: Sunday, May 26, 2013
Vida or thereabouts to Alder Springs Campground: 34 miles

(Note that the link above shows the route all the way up to the pass. Google maps is funky on a tablet.)

Yes, it was a short day today. But sometimes you just have to make your decisions based on the available facilities.

drippy morning
It was a drippy drippy morning

It was raining when I awoke. The forecast called for a nasty day up on McKenzie pass. I debated whether to go back to Eugene and become a hippie. A forty-minute therapy session over the phone with De helped motivate me. Plus, the sun was coming out.

So, onward. The west wind pushed cloud system after cloud system up the McKenzie River valley, producing alternating periods of sun and discouragingly heavy rain. I stopped for lunch at a diner to avoid one of those cloudbursts; of course, it was sunny the whole time I was inside.

At the restaurant, a fellow diner came up to me and asked about my journey. He mentioned his neighbor, Joe Kurmaskie, and wondered if I'd heard of him. Well, duh! Who hasn't heard of Joe Kurmaskie? Chris and I have even been to his house. But I bet he wouldn't know me from Adam.

The diner's wife happened to be a seamstress for the television show Grimm. Interesting.

Past McKenzie Bridge, cyclists have the option of staying on Route 126 and going the long way around, over Santiam Pass. It's longer, the grade up to Santiam Pass isn't bad, and there are good paved shoulders, but there's a lot more traffic. Or they can turn off onto the old McKenzie highway, which is a very scenic, narrow, winding road with absolutely no shoulders, and a steeper, longer climb to McKenzie Pass, which is higher than Santiam. I took door #2.

narrow road
Narrow road, tall trees, sun!

scenic bikeway sign
Scenic even in the rain

There was good reason for that. McKenzie Pass was still closed to cars, but was accessible to cyclists and hikers. Snow gates approximately halfway up meant no traffic beyond that point, and only hiker/biker cars below. And there was a campground at the snow gate. Which was a good thing, because I wouldn't have made it over the pass before dark. And it wouldn't have been easy to find a level camping spot higher up.

little bitofrain
A little bit of rain didn't hurt.

at the snow gate
At the snow gate

So I set up my tent, and after a meal of tomato soup fortified with a couple of packets of instant oatmeal, I bundled up and crawled into the sleeping bag. I think this is the first time I've ever camped alone in the middle of the mountains.

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