Day 15: Crater Lake, OR to Canyonville, OR

Friday 9/23

Mazama campground is at 6,000 feet so the morning was pretty chilly. My standard look before 7:00 am — especially anywhere above 4,000 feet — is “well entrenched.”

If you’re wondering where Simon sleeps, Wayne isn’t as cold-blooded as I am so his partially zipped sleeping bag affords Simon in-and-out privileges when the temps get low.

Ready for a hot cup of instant coffee, I mustered my courage and hauled my ass out of the tent.

I got up and went over to the bear locker to get the Jetboil stove. When I looked down at the dirt I saw an unbroken pattern of circles: Our Sidi boot prints had been completely replaced by bear paw prints. Seeing that made me glad we didn’t try dry camping in the area. I packed bear spray but I didn’t want to have to temporarily blind Yogi just for coveting our Top Ramen.

On our way out of Mazama campground, we stopped at the store for something durably sheathed in plastic that would pass for breakfast. Oily muffin? Toffee peanuts? Jalapeno and cheese crackers? I settled for a bag of overpriced trail mix. When I came out of the store, Wayne was chatting up a cyclist who had a custom-built bike easily worth more than our two DRZs combined. Wayne used to build bike frames so they were understandably rhapsodizing over fine details like the welds. Her riding partner eventually pulled up with her equally unique bike. I don’t know fancy bike stuff, but I do know that my favorite color is green so I found these bikes to be quite attractive.

Before continuing east, we did the 30-mile Rim Drive around Crater Lake. The deep blue hue of the water was (pick an adjective): majestic / enchanting / other worldly / jaw dropping / super freaky / undoubtedly fake.

After leaving Crater lake we headed back into the Oregon dirt. There was nothing exceptional to report; just more in the pattern of nice roads, trees, and weather.

The farther east we went, the lower we dropped in elevation. By the time we parked our bikes and took the very short walk over to this Rogue River overlook, I was dragging from the heat. Simon felt more like 30 lbs than 15. It seems like the fate of a camping motorcyclist is one of always being too cold or too hot — wasn’t it just this morning that I put on almost every piece of clothing I had packed?

On the road to Tiller (and our daily dose of ice cream), I kept seeing sparkling cotton candy on the trees.

Every now and then there’d be a small tree completely entombed, like it was a Halloween prop. I thought it was the handiwork of spiders but upon closer inspection they were filled with worms (specifically, the Fall Web Worm ).

While eating our ice cream, Tiller’s only Rastafarian came along and asked us about our travels. His herbal-based cologne was pungent, which might have explained why he parked across the street — he didn’t want to give patrons near the store a vicious contact high when he opened the door to his rolling water pipe. He suggested — almost insisted — that we camp at the very back of the nearby rest stop, and that no one would bother us there. We opted not to since he would probably be the one bothering us.

We continued on to Canyonville, which was the biggest place we’d been to since Moab. Just off the I-5, Canyonville had plenty of services for travellers. We ended up at the Stanton County Park on the South Umpqua River. Here I am seeing if Simon can get swept away in three inches of water. He’s balking as if he knows he will.

Only after Simon was done frolicking along the river did we see the Dogs Prohibited sign, which was facing in what I’d call the “strategically inferior” direction.

The sound of traffic on the I-5 kept Wayne up for a lot of the night. He’s never learned to embrace the beauty of earplugs, which I consider a top ten travel necessity.


Day 15 overview: 137 miles

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