Choice Cuts—Path Less Pedaled

Throughout December and into January, we’re sharing some of the Salsa Crew's and our sponsored riders' favorite moments from 2015. By all accounts, it was a great year!

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Our favorite moments from 2015 are different, but they both happen to be from the same trip!

Laura: Even though Portland is not a mountain town, there is a mountain that looms large over life here: Mt. Hood. She is our closest mountain playground, and on a clear day, you can see her outline beckoning against the horizon.

In July, we left the city on a four-day trip that looped up the shoulder of Mt. Hood to Lost Lake, then down the other side to Hood River and back via the Columbia River Gorge. On that first day, we took a train to a bus to get out of the suburbs and then rambled along a winding series of country roads. We passed summer homes and trailheads, farms, and tiny specks of towns. It was a perfect summer day, and it was mid-week, so there was no traffic. Up, up, we rode, inching our way closer to our cabin for the night.

And then, in the middle of silly-mid-ride conversation, we rounded a corner, dropped into a meadow, and were greeted with a stunningly perfect view of Mt. Hood. She stood in majestic silence, so close that it seemed we were practically standing on her western flank. That moment, when you turn a corner on a new route and catch a breathtaking view, is always one of my favorite experiences.

She would continue to follow us the rest of the day (and, indeed, the rest of the trip). I've seen Mt. Hood many times, driven around the base of her, and even stopped on her slopes. But as we inched our way along our route, we were treated to unparalleled views of the mountain, from completely new angles, making it worth the pain of the climb and the sting of the 100-degree day.

Russ: My favorite moment from 2015 also happened during our tour up Lolo Pass. During the trip, we were traveling fairly light on the Warbirds, but I still managed to pack a tenkara rod and a small container of flies. I knew that we were going to pass some water that could hold fish and didn't want to pass up an opportunity for some piscatorial pursuits. The first day was long and hot, and we gained 5,400 feet in 45 miles. Because of the unseasonably hot summer, a lot of the rivers were nothing more than creeks, and fish were nowhere to be found.

When we reached our cabins at Lost Lake, we were exhausted. The heat and climbing had taken its toll. After refueling at the camp market, we felt a little more human and decided to walk along the perimeter of the lake. Lost Lake has the unique distinction as being one of the most photographed lakes in all of Oregon. At a certain part along the trail, you get a stunning view of Mt. Hood reflecting off the surface. Heading out to the lake, I decided to bring the tenkara rod with me. Not so much because I had any hope of catching any fish, but more out of stubbornness. If I dragged it up the climb, I was at least going to get the line wet.

We found a spot where there was a downed tree that gently reached into the water. It was as good a place as any to take a break, snap a few photos, and make a few casts. I sat on the edge of the log where I could see Mt. Hood in the distance and a full moon off her shoulder. The sun was making its slow arc to the horizon. I strung up my rod and made a few idle casts. Then something happened. The water around me came alive with ripples and splashes, momentarily giving away the locations of hidden fish. I started casting with intent and purpose, and pretty soon I had a fish on, a 6-inch rainbow that took a cahill colored pale morning dun. For the next hour or so, as the sun was getting low on the horizon, I was catching little trout on dry flies, while Mt. Hood and a full moon loomed in the distance. It was just about perfect. I had forgotten about how tired my legs were and how hot it had been on the climb. I was too distracted in that moment by the sound of my laugh as a fly rod bucked and danced in the palm of my hand.

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The trip write-up on our site.

This post filed under topics: Bikepacking Explore Road Sponsored Riders Tim Krueger Touring Warbird

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Laura & Russ

Laura & Russ

In 2009, Laura and Russ sold everything to travel on an open-ended bicycle tour. They pedaled three years and 18,000 miles across the United States and New Zealand, documenting bike culture and travel. Now based in Portland, Ore., they’re improving bike travel in the U.S. by helping bridge the gap between bicycling and tourism. pathlesspedaled.com

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