Biking Backroads from Mt. Hood to Detroit, Oregon!
A wonderful itinerary! A great group of students. We had Leroy or bus driver take us up to the Skyline Snow park 8 miles past Government Camp. We packed up and set off, also hauling a Burly bike trailer behind us- each person taking an hour to pull the trailer. In the trailer we put our group cooking gear and about half the food.
We followed FS Road 42 south and west to the Little Crater Lake junction. From here we took a four mile detour to see this remarkable natural spectacle. The kids were amazed at the artesian fed lake and a few them actually jumped into the 34 degree water (!) but did not stay long. There were a group of college students from Utah in the area as well. We had lunch at the nearby campground before returning back up the hill to road 42.
The group biked for another two hours down past Timothy Lake and then up a very long and tiring hill to Summit Lake. The lake is a mile west of the junction on a gravel road. It ended up being a perfect spot to spend the afternoon and evening.. The lake is large and shallow and quite warm. We waded for a while after selecting a nice campsite, then we built a log raft as a group. Nico and Kallisti did most of the work, but everyone pitched in. The raft was ready by 5:00 pm and several of us floated around in it. It was very functional, but also was home to many ants who had called those logs home before we threw them into the lake.
In the distance we had heard thunder rolling across the mountains for all of the late afternoon and the sky started to cloud over. We urged everyone to get their shelters set up. About six pm we glanced over to the lake and saw an odd site- the far end of the lake- just 300 yards away - seem to be embroiled in some sort of tumult involving clouds, wind and water. It seemed mostly incomprehensible, but after several seconds we alerted the kids that it was about to rain very hard. The alarm spread through the camp and those who had completed their shelters managed to find refuge from the huge hailstorm that swept into the camp 30 second later. Hail the size of quarters pounded our site for maybe 10 minutes accompanied by a bit of thunder and lightning. Eventually it turned to just rain and soon after let up for a pleasant though cloudy evening. The storm provided a nice incentive for the construction of some very fine shelters that evening and the next. After a five course dinner we sat around the fire talking about the state of the world.
Pancakes and spam made up our breakfast the next morning and we soon set off at a leisurely pace along FS 42 in a little mist. The road past this point becomes narrow and unusually beautiful for a paved road through the forest. In places the pavement has moss along its edges and it travels through legitimate old growth descending down toward the Clackamas River. The group split into two parties before the big descent – one half taking a gravel alternative that rejoined the main road after five miles. We enjoyed lunch along the Clackamas then turned south onto FS Road 46 and the long trek to Detroit. The kids were battle hardened by now and the hills didn’t really seem to bother them. We made a detour up a gravel road across the Clackamas to visit an active logging operation. The crew foremen took some time to explain everything to us and demonstrated the high lead operation. It was the first time any of the kids had seen logging in action. We found a nice campsite along Cub Creek, south of Sisi Creek where we played cards and enjoyed a large campfire late into the night.
We tried to get an early start the next day for our 1000 foot climb out of the Clackamas watershed and into the Breitenbush. The cloudy weather was perfect and we reached the pass in a little over an hour. The downhill ride to Breitenbush was full of joyous screams and unending smiles. We had lunch at a small group camp before heading further down the hill. Some of the students took a dunk in the river and shortly thereafter we met Leroy and our bus just east of Detroit.