Yesterday I said, “see you down the road” to my friends in Cottage Grove. I’m sure I’ll be back. After filling up with food and fuel at Safeway I took the back way up to Eugene, the same route I took to go kayaking last weekend. This was for a side quest to Home Depot, where I picked up the remaining bits and pieces I needed to improve my Starlink mast to version 2.0. Then I headed east on 126 toward the town of Sisters.
It was a mostly pleasant drive, marred only by the occasional idiot passing people when there really wasn’t enough space (they weren’t always passing me, either). Passing through the Williamette National Forest was interesting, mainly due to the distinct lack of vegetation there. A little research after the fact revealed that this was the scene of the Holiday Farm Fire in 2020. While most of the trees are still standing, everything green got burned away. Ground cover has returned, but that’s about it. Along the main road, there’s a fair bit of construction going on, probably rebuilding homes that got destroyed in the fire.
Highway 126 ended at US 20. This amused me greatly because, many regenerations ago, I lived just off US 20 in Massachusetts for several years. Not too far down the road, I pulled off at an overlook with a great view of Mount Washington. No, not Mount Washington, New Hampshire. Apparently, there are 15 peaks named Mount Washington in the US, plus another on Vancouver Island. If I cared, I could try to catch them all, but I’m not that motivated, and I can’t drive to the US Virgin Islands to catch that one.
I reached an altitude of around 4,700 feet, then started descending. The geography completely changed. The trees were still green, but a different kind of green, and shorter than where I’d come from due to the altitude. The ground was more of a reddish-tan color than the brown soil where I was. I was crossing into the high desert, though I wasn’t quite out of the forest yet. It blows my mind that I can drive just over two hours and find myself in a completely different geological and ecological zone. All of New England, where I lived until now, is pretty much the same.
My destination was an undisclosed location my friend Amanda had given me in Deschutes National Forest, just outside of Sisters, where she’d camped before and knew was big enough for my van and trailer. She was absolutely right. Though Google didn’t know the dirt roads crisscrossing this section of the forest, I found my way to a spot just off the road, and with a clear view to the north for Starlink. I double-checked with Gaia GPS, and verified that I was, indeed, inside the National Forest, and legally camping on public land. As I’m typing this a Forest Service Jeep just parked nearby but seems to be attending to other business, not caring at all that I’m obviously camping here.
The reason I chose to come to Sisters, rather than Bend, is to pre-stage myself for Overland Expo. Sisters, Redmond, and Bend make a nice triangle of towns only half an hour apart from each other. I’ll stay here until next Thursday when camping opens for Overland Expo, and have a short hop over to Redmond after working in the morning. Bend is the south point of this triangle, so that’s where I’ll go afterward. I haven’t figured out a plan beyond Bend yet, but I don’t need to right now. This plan will work for the next couple of weeks. I’m finding it’s fruitless to try making specific plans much farther out than that at this point.