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Old 07-25-2007, 03:10 PM   #1
neiltkool OP
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OBCDR: Photos, Info & Tips

I just got back from a week long solo trip on the original route (#5) of the Oregon Back Country Discovery Route. While researching for my trip, I was surprised I couldn't find more information on this intriguing ride. In fact, mtrcycllvr's excellent trip report that can be found here, turned out to be one of the best sources of information that I could find. So with the trip still fresh in my mind, I thought I would try to share with everyone some of the photos that I took, information that I learned, and some of the seemingly obvious tips that I was reminded of once again, while completing this awesome ride.

First a little background info. Since deciding last year to go back to school and pursue a different direction in careers, I've sort of been sans bike. Feeling desperate to get back out there and wanting to go on some sort of trip this summer, I made the decision to ride the Oregon Back Country Discovery Route; something I've wanted to do since first learning about it six or seven years ago. Step one of course was to get another bike, which I did a few months ago when I found a rather rough looking but mechanically sound, 1997 Honda XR650L in the classifieds. I brought her home and cleaned her up; performed the standard "lube, oil and filter", threw on some of my old saddlebags and presto!, I was back in business.

My plan (for no particular reason) was to ride the OBCDR from north to south. I intended to ride the scenic pavement route up to Walla Walla, then spend the next four days riding and camping out on the route, then ride back home to Eugene on the sixth day. As you'll soon see, things more or less worked out the way that I had planned. Although, just like with every good story, there was a little bit of a twist in the middle.

My tracklog overlayed onto an aerial photo:


Obvious Tip #1: Pack Light and "Low"
Here's my setup about fifty miles into day one. The old XRL is fully loaded down with a week's worth of provisions and feels like it. Other than a few little test rides around the block, this is my first real time on the bike and she feels a little top heavy. I'd spend the next five mornings perfecting my packing strategy, as I tried to get my center of gravity as low as possible. It in fact makes a HUGE diffenece in how the bike handles, more so off-road than on the pavement.


See the smoke? This picture was taken on the evening of day one, just south of the Washington/Oregon state border and the beginning of OBCDR. Unfortunately forest fire smoke (and the fires themselves) would play a major role in my trip this week.


Obvious Tip #2: Start Early, Finish Early
I'm amshamed to say that I started out on day one almost three hours later than I had originally intented to. This late start, combined with the heavy smoke in the air acting like overcast skies, meant that I wouldn't make it to my planned destination that night of Motett Campground. Instead I ended up having to ride the last half an hour in complete darkness, navigating with the XRL's crappy headlight and my LED headlamp worn around my neck so that I could read my GPS unit, which had gotten low on batteries and thus, it's backlight feature wouldn't come on. I ended up stopping about eight miles short of Motett Campground that night, at a place called Skyline Forest Camp (labled Bear Trap in the Benchmark maps). It was a "dry" camping area, which meant there was no fresh water, and it kind of sucked. Not a very fun way to end a rather hot and windy, 412 miles. Oh well, at least I was finally out here.

This picture was taken the next morning as I was leaving after a dusty and thirsty night.


Oh by the way, here's a picture of the piped spring just coming up out of the ground at Motett Campground forming it's own little creek. The water was crystal clear, cold, and as to be expected, delicious.


All right, enough of the complaining. After drinking my fill and topping off my bottle from the spring at Mottett, I was officially underway. The scenery in this part of the route was simply amazing, and I don't remember seeing another soul for at least the first two and a half hours that morning.




To be continued...
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neiltkool screwed with this post 07-31-2007 at 03:41 PM
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Old 07-25-2007, 03:14 PM   #2
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Later,
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Old 07-25-2007, 04:33 PM   #3
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Old 07-25-2007, 04:37 PM   #4
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Next Set

Okay, here are some more pictures from my second day of riding and my first official day on the OBCDR. These were both taken on the northside of I-84, in the Umatilla National Forest.




Tip #3: Don't Pass Gas
Not as in flatulance (although that's also good advice), but more as in it can be a long freakin way between gas stops out here. The section of route between Walla Walla and Ukiah seems to be the most problematic, with many riders reporting having to take the freeway into La Grande for fuel. My advice is to stop at the Starkey Station (N45 15.223 W118 23.156) to top off your tank no matter which direction you're riding the route in. If you detour from the OBCDR route near Flat Spring on FS 2125 northwest of Starkey, it's only about seven or eight miles of very fast and smooth gravel road on FS 2137 or McIntyre Road into "town". Plus, if you're lucky enough to time your arrival around lunch time like I did, you might be able to catch the owner's daughter just as she's grilling up lunch for the day (gigantic, awesome hamburgers on the day I was there). Even if you miss out on lunch, it's still a hell of a lot better than riding down I-84. The total "trail" mileage between Walla Walla and Starkey station is approximately 140 miles.

After "pitting" in Starkey and rejoining the course, the route started getting much harder. Both to navigate and to ride. It was in this area, northeast of Ukiah, that I first started to get a little turned around on some of the many little spur roads that the route takes you on. It really isn't all that big of a deal, and you'll have little time to worry about it, as the roads and trails (yes, trails) in this area are absolutely fantastic and so much fun to ride on.



Notice the smoke again?


My planned stop for night two was supposed to be Toll Bridge Campground just south of Ukiah. I rolled into Toll Bridge around 6pm and found it to be hot, lacking a lot of shade, and minus the water supply that I thought I had read somewhere that it had. Not wanting to see an instant replay of my first night, I decided to keep riding and head towards the town of Ukiah in seach of greener pastures (literally). I found them in the form of Ukiah-Dale State Park. It was actually a nice little campground right off of Hwy 395 with green grass, water faucets, flush toilets and a pay phone. The truck traffic along the highway was a little noisy at times, but all in all a very nice place to spend the night.





Total distance for day two: 206 miles, all of it totally awesome. So far the OBCDR has been everything that I'd hoped it would be, and even more.
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neiltkool screwed with this post 07-26-2007 at 09:37 AM
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Old 07-25-2007, 05:09 PM   #5
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Awesome to see this now.

Was it quite hot when you went?

I wanted to do route 5 from south to north the beginning of July but work got in the way, so I'll live vicariously thru your ride report, thanks.

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Old 07-25-2007, 05:43 PM   #6
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sweet... can you share the tracks ?. I did section 3 last month and the trek now tracks were off in some places. Would you do 5 again on a heavier bike? 3 was no sweat
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Old 07-25-2007, 06:08 PM   #7
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FWIW RDubb wrote a report in '05 on the OBCDR here
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Old 07-25-2007, 06:32 PM   #8
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Glad You're Enjoying the Report

toothy,

Sorry to hear about work ruining another good ride. I really lucked out with the weather. It was kind of hot on the first day (mid 90's), but then just about perfect for the rest of my trip. It could have been a much, much, worse.


MookieBlaylock,

I actually planned my route from a really nice set of tracks already posted in the GPS section. I found them to be complete, and just about as close to perfect as you can get. I'll still be happy to share my tracklog with you, however I've never posted a file onto advrider before so you may have to e-mail me for it.

Outside of a few true OHV trails near Ukiah, and then the Crane Mountain Motorized Recreation Trail at the very end, Route 5 of the OBCDR is all very "heavier bike" accessible, provided you have a little skill and paitience. The tracklog and route that I followed included all of these optional OHV trail sections, although I think they are all easily bybassed.


RMac,

Sorry, I do remember reading about that Oregon Disco ride and it was excellent. Lots of great pictures and very helpful information. Thanks for posting the link.

-Neil
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neiltkool screwed with this post 07-29-2007 at 01:26 PM
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Old 07-25-2007, 07:58 PM   #9
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Day Three (or Two)

After my much needed and restful slumber on night two was rudely interrupted not only by the embolden deer, who apparently fancied the green lawns of Ukiah-Dale State Park almost as much as I did, but also by a terrific thunder and lightning storm that gave me approximately seven minutes to get the rain fly put on the tent, and all of my crap which I had left out, packed away and stashed under the picnic table. Despite all the crazy running around in the dark, it was actually kind of fun to fall back asleep listening to the sound of the rain on the tent fly.

Morning two breakfast.


I awoke on day three (day two of the route) to basically clear skies and cool temperatures. I rode on up into Ukiah to top off the tank (see Tip #3) and then had an absolutely fantastic rip across FS 52 and down FS 55, to join back up with the official route.

Here's a picture of me (I have one of those neat little plastic tripods) getting close to the Desolation Butte Lookout Tower. As you can see the smoke was thick again today, really messing up all of my pictures.


Tip #4: Stay on the Righthand Side of the Road
This isn't the road where the "incident" occured, but somewhere near the Blue Springs Summit OHV staging area just outside of Sumpter, I nearly got taken out by a rider on a quad. Not just any rider mind you, but a woman going about my size (200lbs plus), wearing shorts and a tank top, no helmet (of course), with presumably her daughter on the back of the quad wearing matching protective gear. She was looking off the side of the road and up the hill when she came tearing around a corner, taking up the middle of the road. I laid on my horn and starting aiming for the ditch, when just then the Mom looked over, cranked on the bars and got back onto her side of the road. I was generally surprised that the kid wasn't pitched off to the high side and right into my path; good on her for at least hanging on tight. Right about the time I was really cussing that Mom inside my helmet, here comes what I can only presume to be Grandma on another quad, with daughter number two onboard, and of course similar protective equipment. I meet them on a straightaway this time so there is no drama, and they both flash me the biggest smiles and thumbs up as they go past. What are you gonna do?


Tip #5: Don't Sweat It
There must be at least a million little spur logging and mining roads in and around the town of Sumpter. I'd even hazard to bet that it's impossible to navigate the actual OBCDR route without making at least one wrong turn in this area. If, or more likely when, you should find yourself in such a situation ask yourself these questions: 1) Am I still having fun riding on this road?, and 2) Am I at least going in the general direction of my intended travel? If you can answer "yes" to both of these questions, then don't worry about it. All of these little spur roads seem to magically connect back up again, almost as if they don't want to you get lost. Seriously.

My GPS wasn't quite so sure.


More of the route...I think. Just kidding, this is from just north of Unity.


South of Unity; probably somewhere near Bear Creak Meadow.


The infamous Crane Crossing of the North Fork of the Malhuer River. (Yeah, it looks about that deep in real life to)


There are two very nice campsites on both sides of the river, but of course I wouldn't have been able to sleep that night knowing that I had this in front of me first thing in the morning. So without any witnesses, which might have been a good thing, I dove right in (luckily, only figuritively)

Without any action shots, you'll just have to use your imagination to picture what happened next. The rinsed off bike and saddlebag however, should give you some clue as to the amount of water displaced.


I used the excuse of being soaking wet to go ahead and make my camp for the night right there on the westside of the river. I finished the job that I had started in crossing the river, by taking my gear off and officially rinsing it out in the water. It felt great to get cleaned up and off trail early that night; another great day on the OBCDR in the books.


Total distance for day three: 175 miles, 174.9 of them totally dry.
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El Camino Del Diablo
Oregon Back Country Discovery Route
Continental Divide Ride

neiltkool screwed with this post 07-31-2007 at 06:06 PM
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Old 07-25-2007, 08:06 PM   #10
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I might even ask you for your phone number, I have a bunch of questions I don't want to bore the readership with- like if my family could rendez-vous with me at certain points along the route in the motorhome easily.

Well, I guess that's really the main question.
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Old 07-26-2007, 06:51 AM   #11
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NICE REPORT!!!
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Old 07-26-2007, 08:04 AM   #12
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Thx for sharing... very appreciated
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Old 07-26-2007, 09:54 AM   #13
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looks fun, too bad you could not get shots of the creek crossing
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Old 07-26-2007, 10:08 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neiltkool
The infamous Crane Crossing of the North Fork of the Malhuer River. (Yeah, it looks about that deep in real life to)


There are two very nice campsites on both sides of the river, but of course I wouldn't have been able to sleep that night knowing that I had this in front of me first thing in the morning. So without any witnesses, which might have been a good thing, I dove right in (luckily, only figuritively)

Without any action shots, you'll just have to use your imagination to picture what happened next.
spill the beans , did it go horizontal?
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Old 07-26-2007, 12:28 PM   #15
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cool - thanks for the info and the good shots. we're doing that trip in september. looking forward to the rest of your story!
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