Recently I returned from an extended roadtrip throughout the West and Pacific Northwest. This experience reaffirmed a fading belief of mine, that our great country is indeed just that, great. Political, civil, and general unrest has tainted our, or perhaps just my view of the United States. Accompanied by my girlfriend we embarked on a 3,500 mile journey that led us through some of the finest lands this natural world has to offer. Along the way we enjoyed taking the roads less traveled and on these back-roads of America we were inspired by the great beauty of the land as well as the beauty of our nations people.
There were few real goals of this trip, however I did intend to ski the summits of two vastly different mountains; 12, 726 foot Mount Peal in the La Sal Range of Utah and 11, 239 foot Mount Hood in Oregon. We also planned to ride some “EPIC” (I think I can still use that word without being sued by Vail Resorts) mountain bike trails. The multi-week trip started in the foothills outside of Denver. We loaded my truck with skis, bicycles, camping parts, and various other gear for recreating then hit the road.
I won’t bore you with a daily account or too much information, but I can assure you these are very cool places to go. Here is a photographical account with some highlights of the trip.
The first installment was camping outside Moab. For the first several days of the trip there were intense electrical storm over the La Sal range making skiing the summit of Peale of of the question. We rode bikes in the meantime. Unfortunately the weather only got worse and ended up depositing several feet of snow on the range, my ski partner Forrest and I had to make the difficult decision to pull the plug on the mission. Since the weather wasn’t ideal we packed up early. Next stop Idaho and the Snake River Gorge.
Camping in the Snake River area is very nice with many options. This is geographically unique landscape has many recreational goings on and you can explore by human powered or mechanized methods quite easily. Most camping is relegated to campsites so you are probably going to be sharing the space with RV’s. Although I was once firmly opposed to tent camping in RV campgrounds, I find that when you have to pitch tent in these spots most of the travelers are very nice and often have some very insightful tips or just entertaining banter.
After some time in Idaho we moved on to Oregon. A state I have always had a hard time spelling for some reason. We set up camp at the confluence of the Deschutes and Columbia River. This spot is very diverse and somewhat resembles high desert with lush as well as rocky terrain. On one evening ride my special lady and myself had close encounters with several meaty aggressive rattlesnakes.
Then moving on to Hood River we biked some of the new directional trails in Post Canyon. This place offers unreal biking and is probably one of my favorite places I’ve ever ridden. If you find riding a mountain bicycle enjoyable or aspire to encounter mountain bicycle enjoyment, this area is very for lack of a better word “enjoyable,” and this ranges from novice to expert level riding. The Hood River area has a surplus of incredibly nice people as well as fine food/beer offerings. After some wet and soggy riding we made the short drive to Portland, but not after stopping off at the great roadside attraction of Multnomah Falls.
After a couple days doing hip things in Portland I was off to Mount Hood. As the theme of this El Nino winter continued it of course snowed, a lot. Several feet fell during the week, so I skied the amazing Timberline park with good friends Jeff Curry and Andy Perry. I weathered the storm at Andy’s new house, which is lovely. However his cat Tiger pissed in my travel bag, so that wasn’t very great.
After days of intense snow and a small weather window opened up. Not knowing if the summit was possible, long time acquaintance and new friend Kevin Perron and I started the trek up the mountain with no expectations. After several hours of climbing we successfully summited and skied off the top of Mount Hood in excellent powder conditions. Its was a very special experience to ski off this mountain in such unique and stable conditions. It was truly a highlight of my year and a mission I won’t forget.
The road mission continued onward. Next we pushed on to Bend, Oregon. I had never been to Bend. We stopped in a local bike shop and got some good beta on a spot to camp with access to biking. We pitched camp just 16 miles from Mount Bachelor in the Tiddlywinks area and did a pretty hefty ride out of the campsite. This network is very sick. It was pioneered a long time ago, but now is getting a facelift with some new directional flow trails. After some very good days of biking, it was on to a very snow-filled Mount Bachelor.
Bachelor is such an amazing mountain with a ton of inspiring lines. The natural features that are formed throughout the winter are very encouraging for the freestyle ski maneuverings. There are tons of playful windlips and spines. Bachelor was one of the most excellent places I have skied and I can not wait to get back there… wait actually I was told to say Bend sucks, don’t go there.
From Bend we took the back route to Ontario, Oregon. This high desert highway is a reminder of how difficult it must have been for Pioneers to navigate through these barren lands. The landscapes although beautiful are home to harsh conditions. All roadside stops and amenities are a far cry from the new mega-centers that are abundant on our major interstates. It is at these stops you encounter the fabric of American culture. Rundown buildings, rusty old cars, crusty old town characters, small towns that time seems to have passed by, and of course RV’s. We camped near the Bruneau Sand Dunes in Idago. This area is gorgeous and certainly rivals the Great Sand Dunes in marijuana legal Colorado.
At this point in our trip I felt more compelled to interact and be present with what was happening, rather than be rushed to grab my phone for some bullshit Instagram post. I found a lot of satisfaction in this and it reunited me with what I refer to as “Great Americana.” To me this means the genuine American road trip experience. I’m talking Route 66, greasy cheese burger, fast car, motorcycle, where are we on to next type shit.
You feel connected and you communicate. You speak with people from all walks of life about all the weird things that make America great. You indulge in food you don’t normally eat. You sleep in uncomfortable spots and wake up to unimaginably beautiful areas. You take advantage of our State and National Parks. We are a truly fortunate people, as United States citizens.
In my experience it doesn’t matter what you’re doing on these types of trips, it is that you have the thirst to just do something. Maybe retrace a epic trip your grandparents did, follow the Oregon trail, or adventure quest. No matter what you are into there are a lot of like-minded individuals who are doing something you’re probably going to dig. I had a great time and probably would have had a great time even if I didn’t bike or ski. But I did and it was really awesome. Thanks America!
Places I would like to do more stuff:
Explore and raft Dinosaur National Park
Fish CJ Strike, Idaho
Bike Vernal, Utah
Float the Deschutes in Bend