For our 32nd birthday's, both the same week in May, John and I decided to do a long weekender bikepacking trip. We followed The Swallow's Central Oregon Backcountry Explorer Route. Though they rode it in the autumn, we figured the weather was decent enough to try it out in the spring, despite the heavy winter snowfall and wet, cloud cover the high desert has had this spring. We loaded our gear, packed four days of food, and headed from Bend to Prineville with our bikes. At the Prineville Good Bike, Co. we started our journey. "You may hit snow at 5700 feet in the Ochocos, but it should be ok." We were told.
Rolling pavement out of Prineville--onto gravel roads through The Ochoco Mountains. Clouds and a chill are in the air. Spring can bring all weather.
Livestock--lambs of may. calves. sheep of many colors.
Roll roll roll up and down, winding roads.
It is so green after our snowy winter. Climb climb climb.
Ponderosa and fir forests turn into grassland, sage, and Juniper. SMELLOVISION.
Geology and land histories come alive.
The days were challenging as the weather changed. We experienced the everything of spring: clouds, rain, sun, rainbows, wind, heat, snow, hail, and thunderstorms. Stream crossings with water three feet higher than normal.
Jackets came on, clouds passed, jackets came off, clouds moved and rain fell from the sky, jackets came on again. May--very little rhythm in the mountains. Off the bike again to cross another river. The wetlands spread wide a symphony of life. Swallows swooped for insects.
On my birthday, as the clouds shifted ahead, around, in between us, we left the John Day River and headed towards the Painted Hills, Mitchell, and the Ochocos once again.
As we climbed out of Mitchell into the Ochocos, it started snowing, hailing, raining, and snowing again.
Wildflowers and snowflakes surrounded us for my birthday dinner.
And more snow. Until we got to the pass where there was six feet of snow on the ground waiting for us to hike over. We trudged through snow, pushing our heavy bikes 3 hours and almost 7 miles from 5700 feet elevation to the summit at 6400 feet elevation, and back down to 5700' on the other side.
Made it back from the mountains to ride another day.
The everything of spring in the mountains is astonishing. The Minnesota kids just couldn't comprehend springtime in the NW mountains until they experienced it.