Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Disaster recovery courtesy of the McKenzie River Trail

I am waiting on pictures from my poor performance at the USAC MTB Marathon Nationals in Bend last Saturday and I am still rolling that debauchery around in my head, so the race report will be up very soon. Just not today....

My race recovery report (ha) requires far less thought:

I experienced a rare bit of homesickness upon my return to the Willamette Valley's most beautiful and perfect river--the McKenzie. I used to live and breathe steelhead fishing this river from a drift boat and from the bank for two years. (Now I have to dig up old pictures to back up my "fish stories." You will see them on here in a few days....Just a forewarning)

Presently,  my neglected steelhead rod sits in the corner of my closet and my return this past weekend involved a ride along the famous McKenzie River Trail.

The ride is a huge net downhill and winds through trees so thick that the sunlight battles to seep through to the fern-laden forest floor. Many sections seem enchanted and my senses were overwhelmed with the mysticism of the area. My ears tuned in to the sound of rubber rolling over the dirt and the crunch of pine needles beneath my tires. Lava rock littered the area and provided some technical sections to keep me honest. As the trail neared the river, the peaceful sound of a wake from a passing canoe or the splash of the water on the bank took me back to the lazy July afternoons I would spend fishing with friends a few years ago.

My hidden paradise in the northwest

Sahalie Falls is definitely a highlight of the ride and although I have seen this waterfall more times than I can count from the road, I must say this time was by far the most memorable. Why? About 2 miles of SICK downhill and 20 fun stairsteps to cruise down on the approach to the best viewpoint.

Sahalie Falls

View from the top of the steps
A Late Summer's Afternoon Dream

Part of the trail is actually asphalt and surrounded by lava rock near Cold Water Cove 
Contemplating a COLD swim
Along the banks of Clear Lake, a spur off the McKenzie River Trail
Good for the soul, the heart and the mind, the McKenzie River will be a place to which I will return for the rest of my life. Its serenity slows life's pace, its beauty leaves me in silence and the memories of delicious steelhead dinners will ensure I bring my rod next trip!

Stay tuned, you will be tortured (or maybe bored to tears) with fish pictures from my pre-bike era....

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