Day 4: Belknap Hot Springs

I set out from Rachel’s, a host in Eugene, OR, on an early Saturday morning. Most of the town was still asleep but after a mile or so I found a Starbucks shop open. I put the bike in a bike rack, locked it up and went in for a light breakfast. The hot tea really hit the spot.

While I was sipping my tea I observed a city worker come along the sidewalk with a golf cart, carrying water tanks. She stopped outside the cafe and stuck a hose up into some hanging plants and turned on the water. When the pots filled up they started draining onto the sidewalk below. I panicked for a second but the water missed my bicycle below. Even the worker looked concerned and I could see her trying figure if she could move it, but she spotted the locking cable and didn’t try.

Bike "shower" outside Starbucks, Eugene, ORIn the end the bike didn’t get too wet, just the rear wheel. I finished breakfast and rode off. My goal was to get out to the intersection of state roads 126 and 242, about 48 miles away. Following 126 out of Eugene I had no idea where I would stay for the evening. I had messaged a host to find out if they would have any room, but had not received a reply.

The “Three Sisters,” in all their glory.

Most of the ride was uneventful, but very hot. Just a few miles from the destination intersection I had to decide on what to do for the night. I stopped at the McKenzie Bridge General Store and had a meal at their restaurant. I asked a few local fellows I ate with about Bigelow Hot Springs. One of the fellows is a neighbor of Joe Kurmaskie, author of the Metal Cowboy. I’ve read his books and have enjoyed them.

Bigelow Hot Springs is in the National Forest and free. It was late in the day and it was apparent that I’d not get there in time to get to the hot spring. Close by there was a hot spring at the Belknap Lodge Hot Spring, but the lodge is one of these fancy lodges that has a hotel, tour buses and recreational vehicles. Bikers with a tent are the camping equivalent of a homeless person. The RV park was full and they just gave me a sideways glance as if to say, “Get out of here kid.”

They did have a small camp store there, so I picked up a few small items and headed out into the National Forest. I went across the road from the lodge driveway and went up a forest road and found a trail off into the woods. I rode up a way into the woods and started setting up my tent. I heard some kids laughing and realized that there was a family some distance away, on another branch of the trail, that had already set up their camp.

I quietly finished putting up the tent and I don’t think they were aware that I was camped there.

After settling in, I put up an antenna wire and operated the ham radio for a while and then went to bed. Tomorrow was the assault on McKenzie Pass.

Author: Dennis Blanchard

Dennis Blanchard was born in Bristol, Connecticut. He and his wife Jane moved to New Hampshire in 1980 where he has climbed thirty 4000-foot mountains, biked the trails and enjoyed the wilderness. Never living very far from the Appalachian Trail, Dennis was always aware of the seductive siren’s call to hike it. Dennis is an electronics engineer who has freelanced for amateur radio, technical and motorcycle adventure magazines. He now lives in Sarasota, Florida.

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