Road trippin’ north
In an effort to crack the tedium and, at times, hair-pulling stress
associated with the one-man sports team position at the Sierra Sun, I embarked on a road trip last week with perhaps my closest friend: My dad.
The respite went smoothly as we gaped our way off the beaten path northward to central Oregon, no speeding tickets and little traffic to deal with. The two points of interest highlighting our itinerary ” Crater Lake and Mount Bachelor ” did not disappoint.
Getting a jump on the day with a crack-of-dawn departure, we cruised north on Highway 89, escaping the hustle and bustle of Interstate 5 and, to less of a degree, Highway 395. By 4 p.m. we were entering Klamath Falls via Highway 39. It looked cold out, and it was ” 18 to be exact, according to the local weatherman, and an exaggerated 2 degrees, according to our hotel clerk.
After plowing through as much of our gargantuan-sized breakfasts as possible at a friendly truck-stop restaurant, we hit the road, hugging the east side of a frozen Upper Klamath Lake until veering northwest onto Highway 62.
A few miles later, snow banks appeared and the road became coated in white. As we gradually climbed in the direction of Crater Lake National Park, the snow banks grew, from one foot to two, then from three feet to four.
Then we reached the lake, which hid behind snow banks ranging from five to 10 feet in height. Patience was not on my side as I hurried my boots on and scrambled up the hardened snow bank for a view.
Wow. What a view ” with the clear blue of the sky, interrupted only by white trails left by airplanes, reflecting off the water like a mirror and the massive cliffs rimming the lake doing the same. It was just like I had heard rumor of.
After a lengthy stint of gawking, all while snapping shot after shot of the natural wonder with my point-and-shoot camera, we headed west until meeting up with the northbound Highway 230. The drive from Crater Lake to the Highway 138 junction north of the park was one of the most impressive stretches of forests I’ve ever been through, with towering old-growth firs and spruce dominating the landscape.
Sadly, the forest of giant trees turned to mile after mile of clear-cut logging operations before meeting up with Highway 97. Yuck. The aftermath of clear-cut logging continued along 97 all the way to Bend, where we arrived just before dark.
Klamath Falls the night before was cold; Bend was colder ” 8 degrees to be exact, the Weather Channel reported. And it felt every bit of it.
In the morning we left for Mount Bachelor, which exceeded my expectation in regard to its size ” the resort encompasses nearly the entire volcano, boasting more than 3,000 feet of vertical. Snow depths at the base of the mountain hung around four feet, packed hard due to a lack of recent storms (this was one day before a dumping, though).
I took to the lift while my dad, who is an anti snow sports enthusiast, did his own thing off the mountain. Upon reaching the top of the lift, views of Three Sisters and Broken Top opened up to the north. Through the pristine air, the volcanoes looked close to fake, too clear, too white and too large to be real. But they were real, and their presence drew another flurry of picture-snapping from my camera.
Aside from the mountain’s view, which leapt from awing to downright breathtaking upon reaching the 9,000-foot summit, the quality of riding was similar to the Truckee-Tahoe area resorts: groomed firm and fast, but without the natural objects protruding from the surface.
After several hours of exploring the volcano, and the many runs that make it a ski resort, I called it a day ” a day far better than the average one.
We headed south that evening, following a lonely Highway 31 past Summer Lake and Lake Albert, and winding up in Lakeview for the night. The falsely advertised town of Lakeview ” there is no view ” matched Bend’s 8-degree low.
Saturday morning we hit the road again, passing an enormous body of water known as Goose Lake, and continuing south, through the spitting snow and all the way to Reno, then Truckee.
The road trip had ended.
A day later I was back in the Sierra Sun office, greeted by a mass of messages and e-mails along with a week’s worth of work-related stress.
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