Adventure Cycling Day from Brothers Stage Post to Paulina Crater

Wolf OR-7 crossed some wild open country across central Oregon during his dispersal into California, and retracing his route on the section between Brothers and Paulina Crater was a tough cycle for the team. For any mountain biking or cycling enthusiast this day was nirvana on wheels, but also filled with moments of despair. We rolled over everything from tarmac to pumice rocks, from dusty sand tracks to ash covered gravel forestry access roads. Luckily, the bikes we have are ideal for this type of highly variable riding, with changing road surfaces, off-road cycling and epic downhills. We crossed Highway 20 pretty much on the spot that Wolf OR-7’s GPS line indicated and headed straight into the scrub desert lands towards Pine Mountain. Sandy roads revealed wildlife tracks – pronghorn, elk and coyote. dave-on-b-ike We arrived at a small hill adjacent to Pine Mountain, when David suggested we stop and go look for evidence of mountain lion activity. It was hot and near midday. We sent him off alone up the hill, sparsely covered with pines and a looming Ponderosa which he had earmarked for some scouting. Sure enough after a few minutes he called out, “Come have a look guys!” When we reached him in the shade of the big pine tree, he bent down to show us the typical scrape markings of a mountain lion together with scat. It is moments like this that make this adventure with all its physical challenges so worthwhile. Moments that remind us that it is only through direct experience that we can build an understanding of other species and learn to appreciate their needs in a greater connected landscape. Lunch in the shade of that pine will long be remembered. David explained how the markings are a ‘Facebook’ of the wild, where the animals leave their postings and communications by way of scratch, scat, and scent. When we returned to the road we saw coyote scat, exactly where we are now beginning to expect it, at road crossings, another sign of communication and marking of territory. When we looked up to the ridge line of Pine Mountain in the distance, cellphone towers were the example of how our species communicates today. tree dabvid-on-bike The afternoon ride was a journey back to when I was 12 years old, growing up on a farm in Africa, where we spent our afternoons after school biking over dusty sand-roads. Our team today found itself on a track that reminded me of those roads of my youth, with just the right downhill gradient and with roller-coaster bumps all the way. We increased the speed, went crazy and cycled like mad. The thrill of being airborne and not having a care in the world was a welcome break from the gravel ash-covered road that lead us to this epic track. By mid-afternoon, we still had another 30+ miles to cover on thick gravel. It was gruelling and unpleasant, but a great physical challenge that we embraced. Our logistics team was unable to reach our designated camp due to unexpected snow blocking their access route, so they had to drive an additional two hours to reach us finally in the dark. We huddled around a warm fire, hungrily anticipating dinner and a warm drink. The two-way radios we have been carrying, proved yet again that they are an indispensable piece of gear on a trip like this. A day out cycling on the Wolf OR-7 route was filled with unexpected adventure, which OR-7 himself must have found on his journey through these beautiful landscapes. The journey continues . . .