Snapshots from the Oregon Timber Trail, August, 2017

By Henry Kingman

These snapshots were taken during a 16-day ride from Goose Lake, California, to Hood River, Oregon, along the Oregon Timber Trail (OTT). Enjoy...! I hope they help fuel the stoke!

As it existed in late 2017, the OTT comprised a rapidly evolving, downloadable GPS track (.gpx file), along with an aesthetically appealing PDF "route guide" with high-level descriptions and tips. With a GPS reciever to keep you on the track, you can relax and let satellites guide you into and through remote backcountry trails and deep forests with minimal concern for getting lost. This is really a novel and wonderful development for recreationalists everywhere!

I used my Samsung Galaxy S7 in Airplane mode running the $20 Gaia GPS app preloaded with about five different types of maps, though I mainly used USGS Topo maps. To save my phone battery, I carried a separate camera, a Canon EOS-M3 mirrorless with the marvelous little f2/20mm pancake lens

I had not done much bicycle touring since the 1990s, when it was my all-consuming passion. Yet, when I heard about the OTT, I knew I had to ride it, as soon as possible. My departure was delayed by bronchitis, but within a couple of weeks I was on my way.

Rather than new-fangled bikepacking bags, which are pricy, I strapped on a couple of waxed cotton and leather British-style cycle commuter bags that had been gathering dust in my basement for decades. These worked well enough, and I thought they looked pretty good, too!

The bike is a 2009 Turner Sultan, one of the first and still possibly one of the best-built full-suspension 29er bikes anywhere. Until this ride, it probably only had about 500 miles on it. I had to add air to the rear shock once (take a shock pump!) and I rolled my WTB Weirwolf off the front rim on the last day, but otherwise had no mechanical issues whatsoever.

I carried: a two-pound tent, Big Agnes 30-degree bag and 2-inch inflatable air mattress, extra clothes, food, and tools. No stove. With a double-bag Camelbak and one tall water bottle, my water capacity was around four liters.

And I have to say -- gorging on fresh mountain spring water day after day was one of the best things about riding the Timber Trail!

The route requires decent technical mountain biking skills, as many of the trails are primitive, rough, hard to follow, steep, or all of the above. The route also demands backcountry/camping skills, and a lot of endurance and persistence.

I finished in 16 days, including two rest days and lots of late starts and early camps. For fitter riders, two weeks should be a challenging yet immanently doable time allotment.

I was fortunate to encounter two other cyclists early on during the ride. Dan Stranahan, 24, of Port Townsend, Wash., and Sam McLaughlin, 24, of San Anselmo, Calif., both proved to be not only great riders, but also great people to adventure with. Many thanks to them both for all the times they waited for the slow, old guy (me) to catch up.

Okay, without further ado, here are the photos. Click any thumbnail to open up the gallery, which I built in a couple of hours using the awesome open source javascript application, photoswipe.

NOTE: If you'd like a copy of any photo here, you may download the fullsize original (best quality I have) by following these steps:
  1. Click on the thumbnail
  2. Click the "share" icon (share) in the upper right corner
  3. Choose "Download"
You can also right-click and choose "download image", but this will provide an aggressively compressed jpeg resized to maximum dimensions of 1920x1024 -- that is probably not what you want for any purpose other than remote viewing.
Words and images can be licensed for re-use under Creative Commons 4.0 Attribution License