September 15, 2016 – Buck Creek Road and US 20, OR to Suttle Lake Loop and US 20, OR

There were a couple of times during the night that I was woken by a bunch of coyotes howling at the moon. This was a pretty awesome experience and unfortunately I wasn’t quick enough to record it on my phone. There seemed to be multiple coyotes howling from all different directions, but I was also just hoping they wouldn’t smell any of the food that I have on me. It got quite cold last night and I again found it necessary to mummy up completely in my bag. These hot days in the desert can certainly being some cold nights. I started moving at about 7:15 when I could see the sun shining on the mound of gravel next to me. Within minutes the sun was shining on my tent and it warmed up really fast. I ate a couple of tuna packets and some mixed nuts before getting out of my tent and tried to be as efficient as possible packing everything up as well as brushing my teeth.

On the road just after 8 and once I started moving I could feel the cold air much better. My whole body was cold for the first hour and a half as I passed through the one restaurant town of Hampton and further into seemingly no mans land. About 30 miles into my day a truck slows down next to me and shouts “I thought I recognized that face”. My friend Toby, who I stayed at a hotel with in Ellensburg a couple of months ago, was on his way back to Boise from Bend. He pulls onto the shoulder and we chat and laugh about the chance scenario for a bit. After thinking about it longer I’m surprised this doesn’t happen more often. There are thousands of cars that pass me in either direction on most days, and some of the routes are near cities that I know a fair amount of people. The only other time I can recall this happening is on the baseball trip in 2011 in between Dallas and Houston when my cousin Kevin and his family saw me on a frontage road and pulled off the Interstate to talk to me. I hadn’t seen him in probably 15 years or so at the time, so that blew me away. Anyway, I told Toby if we were closer to Bend we should have a beer, but 45 miles away is not very close on a bike. I did hook him up with the hot spring location I stayed at the other night though, so hopefully he hit that up.

I stopped at a rest area in Brothers a few miles further up the road to discard my trash from last night and this morning. A couple of older guys chat with me for a quick minute, but this is just as I’m finishing my break and I don’t really feel like engaging much. It’s a pretty quick ride through mostly flat terrain to the ghost town of Millican 17 miles away. I start to lose some significant elevation after this and have a couple of long downhill stretches along with one pretty good uphill stretch as I’m entering into more forested land on the eastern outskirts of Bend. By the time I get to Bend it is shortly before 2, I’m hot and hungry, and I stop right away as I’ve already put in 70+ miles. I text my friend Kyle that is meeting up with me today to let him know where I am and he is in Sisters, about 25 miles away from me. He’s on moped so he can do faster mileage than me and I had planned on taking a dip in the Deschutes River anyway at a spot I found in Tumalo a month or so ago. So the plan is to meet there.

It’s a bit of a pain getting through Bend, a lot of traffic along US 20 and for a stretch there is no shoulder at all. But after that it’s a nice downhill stretch to the river and Tumalo. Kyle pulls in a few minutes after me and I’ve already gone for a dip to cool down. We drink some celebratory beers and shoot the breeze while wading in the river and eventually get back on the road a little after 4. It’s about 15 miles to Sisters from here and it’s quite warm. Kyle gets ahead of me right away and becomes a camera man at a few spots when I finally catch up. There is a lot of traffic through this stretch in both directions as it is during rush hour. I pull into Sisters a little after 5 and head to the opposite side of town to grab a sandwich and have an easy getaway to continue west afterwards. We spend about an hour or so at Subway charging up the phones and then chatting with a couple of guys that are hiking the PCT and have hitched a ride down into Sisters for supplies. Kyle and I map out a camp spot for the night, 11 miles down the road and a little uphill from here to get some of the climbing of Santiam Pass done tonight.

I leave first about 6:30 and again it doesn’t take Kyle long to pass me. Sunset is about 7:15 and I pull into the spot shortly after this. I can’t find Kyle, shout his name a few times, and since I didn’t pass him at any point I figure he must have gone further. He talked about fishing tomorrow morning at Suttle Lake, so I strap on the lights and ride another 2 miles to Suttle Lake Loop. I check out the area a bit, find an ideal camping spot, but can’t find him anywhere. I hang out along US 20 for 15 minutes or so and try calling him but his phone is out of range. I send him a couple of text messages in case he does try to find me and gets in service at some point, but also figure we are both adults and can fend for ourselves out here. So I set up camp in the moonlight on another clear night. I’m in my tent and ready to sleep by 9:30. I checked out the weather and it isn’t supposed to be as cold tonight, but I have the rainfly on still to give more shade from the moonlight and make sleeping easier. Tomorrow should be easy going with a 10 mile climb or so to start and then it’s mostly downhill from there.

109.31 miles
7:27:43 in the saddle
14.6 Avg. MPH
2336 feet of elevation gained
3432 feet of elevation lost

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About darrenmodonnell

I've been bike touring each summer for the last 5 years. Summer of 2016 I'll be flying up to Alaska on June 1st and riding my bike back down towards the lower 48.
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