Oregon Outback : Silverlake to Prineville Reservoir


I wake up to grey skies and sore legs. It’s day two of the Oregon Outback and I am on the concrete floor of a two door garage. I lay in my quilt as I let the air out of my Therm a Rest. Not until my body reaches the ground will I get up. Rituals. We all have them. We were very fortunate that a local farmer gave us a dry place to stay as a strong storm passed through Silverlake. We all reflect on how terrible the night would have been outside. Thankful. So fucking thankful.

With another big day ahead of us we hit the road and pedal towards Fort Rock. My rain jacket is zipped and the legs slowly wake up. Riders out in the distance slowly pull into focus and I will soon realize how small the world is.

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We’re passing a group when someone calls out my name. I am confused. It’s Toby! The world suddenly feels so small. I’ve know Toby for years and it was really special to run into him and his girlfriend Jillian. You can take a look at Jillian's amazing photography from the trip here. Toby and I chat for a bit. I feel warm now. I want to hang back and pedal with them but they’re on a different time agenda. So I say good bye and catch up with my group.

Fort Rock used to be under water and is known for it’s Tuff Rings which were created when Magma rose to the surface. It’s unreal.

"Fort Rock is an isolated tuff ring in the Fort Rock Basin. It has many cliffs and terraces formed when waves from Fort Rock Lake cut away parts of the crater walls. These features are ~4600 ft (1400 m) around and ~200 ft (60 m) high. The crater floor is 20-40 ft (6-12 m) higher than the floor of the old lake basin. The southern rim of Fort Rock has been broken by waves from the old Fort Rock Lake. Orange-brown lapilli tuff can be found in beds 0.4 inches to 3.3 ft (1 cm to 1 m) thick inside the crater. Rock beds on the inside of the crater dip at angles of 20-70 degrees. These are parallel to the crater walls, so the crater is probably shaped like a funnel."

- OregonState.edu.

As we pull into town cyclists are filling up water bottles at the nearby church. The streets are empty and the only store in town is definitely not open. One last look at the Fort Rock Basin and we’re back on the road.

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20 miles north we find ourselves pedaling within the stillness of the Deschutes National Forest. It’s beautiful and home to the infamous Red Sauce. The forests soft red dirt is the most feared section of the Outback. Luckily for us the previous nights rain had really packed it down. Blessed.

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Dave’s legs are on fire and we find him waiting for us beneath a sign pointing towards Prineville. Classic Dave. Hoping to redeem ourselves from missing out on 30oz steaks we decide to take a 12 mile detour to Brothers Stagecoach Stop and Cafe.

Brothers Stagecoach Stop and Cafe is warm and it feels so good. The walls are littered with knick knacks and it feels like we’re in the middle of nowhere. We are in the middle of nowhere! I order a bacon cheeseburger and nurse a cold beer to calm my empty stomach. Orders in and everyone is busy scanning the walls and talking about whats coming up next. Foods out. Guns out. Best damn burger ever.

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My belly is full. We’re on the road again and the spirits are high. We’re back on gravel in no time. The sun is out as we make our way up the Crooked River Highway. It’s scenic as fuck. Out of nowhere we’re climbing. I felt good all day then suddenly I feel a sharp pain in my knees. I’ve never felt this before but I know it’s from pushing the pedals with all my gear. It’s a tough slog up the hill. Pushing past the pain is what we do and thats what I did. We summit. Don takes advantage of the light. Check out Dons photos and write up on his Exposure page.

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The descent down to the reservoir is incredible. All the pain is washed away as we carve are way down the hillside. At the bottom Dave hops out of the bushes and waves us over. He’s smiling ear to ear as he secured us the raddest camping spot of the trip. We set up camp just feet from the Prineville Reservoir. We have fire. We have food. We have the stars and the celestial lit waters. What an incredible way to end such an amazing day on the Oregon Outback.

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