BMW F800GS, Breitenbush Road, Bridge of the Gods, Columbia River, Detroit OR, Hood River OR, Iron Creek Campground, KLR650, La Wis Wis, Limberlost Campground, Lost Creek OR, Mount Hood, Mt. Saint Helens, Oregon Skyline Road, Randle, Sisters OR, Timberline Lodge, Trapper Creek Wilderness, WA
Canada 2015. Days 19 & 20 (Aug 17 & 18, 2015). Adrián and I talked almost constantly while we are riding. It is usually about the landscape or the pains of riding a motorcycle for so many hours a day. In this trip the phrase that we have uttered the most—without any doubt—has been “Que camino divino!” (What a beautiful road!) Day after day we have encountered amazing roads. Roads that are fun and safe to ride; roads that go through very beautiful places. We planned the trip trying to avoid freeways and large cities as much as possible. That helps a lot. But both Canada and the US have an abundance of roads that one could ride for years without getting bored. We have heard and said the phrase “Qué Camino Divino!” so many times now, that we have lately switched to the sarcastic “Otro camino feo” (Another ugly road). Unfortunately we cannot take pictures of these wonderful roads as we are riding. The photos that we do share here don’t really capture the beauty of those roads. When Lucas, Lucía, Adrián and I came to the Cascades a few years ago, we took route 25 around Mt. Saint Helen. I remember thinking at the time that 25 would be a great road to do on a motorcycle one day. Today was that day. The road was as beautiful as I remembered it but there are many patches that are rough and bumpy. This is a road to ride carefully. We left La Wis Wis after breakfast and rode to Randle where we stop for gas. On Randle we took route 25 south. A few miles from Randle we visited the lovely Iron Creek Campground, where we had stayed with my kids before. Adrián and I rode by our site, 12 A, which looked as good as it did back then. We turned off route 25 into NF-99 to visit the north face of Mt. Saint Helens. On May 18, 1980, a lateral eruption destroyed the north side of the volcano and also the woods and their inhabitants (including people) for miles around. The vast explosion was followed by major mudslides that run down the valleys around the mountain. I remember the amazing pictures of the explosion in National Geographic. I could not read English back then but I did not need too. The pictures did the talking and the devastation was incredible. After all these years vegetation has come back to the area but the signs of the eruption are still obvious. On Spirit Lake at the foot of Saint Helens, hundreds of logs from the killed trees are still floating today.
From NF-99 we could clearly see Mount Rainier and what to us look like a long line of white clouds in the horizon. We did not know it at the time but we were looking at a major plume of smoke from fires in Western Washington State. After visiting Saint Helens, we continued south on 25 and then took Routes 51 and 30 towards Carson. At around the Trapper Creek Wilderness area, we begun to smell and see smoke. By the time we got to the Columbia River (the one we had crossed in two ferries back in British Columbia) we could see smoke on the mountains in every direction. We crossed the majestic Columbia on the Bridge of the Gods (named after a major landslide that temporarily dammed the Columbia circa 1450). We briefly stop at the Cascade Locks to see the salmon fishing scene—which was not as impressive as the last time we were here—and then rode directly to the Hood River Inn in Hood River, OR. We had a lovely dinner on the outside patio of the hotel overlooking the Columbia. Adrian had spaghetti with salmon and I had gnocchi of lobster. We both enjoyed very nice IPAs brewed locally.
On day 18, we had a major breakfast courtesy of Best Western. We sat at the outside patio of the hotel. There was still a lot of smoke in the air. Adrián ordered scrambled eggs with chorizo, onions, and potatoes. I had a bagel with smoked salmon and potatoes. It took us a while to get the bikes ready after breakfast. We got gas at the service station next to the hotel and then rode to a nearby Yamaha dealer to buy chain lube. Most gas stations in the US do not carry anything for motorcycles. We took Route 35 south towards Mount Hood and could not believe the amount of smoke in the air. We could see the impressive peak of the volcano but behind a thick veil of smoke. The valley south of Hood River is quite pretty; full of apple and pear orchards. We got to Mt. Hood in no time and went up to the Timberline Lodge where two years ago we had taken a picture of us with the bikes and Mt. Hood in the background. From the parking area one can see for miles all the mountains in the area. There was smoke in every direction. It seemed as if the entire state of Oregon was burning. From Mt. Hood we rode to Detroit, OR, following roads that we had ridden before, National Forest Roads 42 (Oregon Skyline Road) and 46 (Breitenbush Road). In Detroit we stop for gas and ice cream. It was quite hot and there was a lot of smoke in the air there too. We then continued south on Route 22 and the US-20 to the town of Sisters, OR. Our final destination was the lovely Limberlost Campground where Adrián and I had spent the night twice before. My kids and I call the place the campground of the huckleberry girl because the first time we stayed there we met a lovely girl who was going around the campground picking huckleberries. From Sisters we took route 212 towards Mackenzie Bridge. This is a great road for motorcycles. A few miles from the town the road goes though a large field of lava from where one can enjoy great views of the Three Sisters volcanoes (North, Middle, and South Sister) to the south and Mt. Washington to the north. Beyond the lava fields the road begins to go down twisting for several miles under the canopy of gorgeous trees. Limberlost is hidden in the woods by the pretty Lost Creek about a mile before the interception of 212 and 216. The campground does not have water so we had to filter water from the creek to cook. After dinner we walked around admiring the beautiful trees. Only a few huckleberries were left this late in the summer.