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Cougar Hot Springs was spooky. Not that anything adverse happened but it had a "no camping zone" for a mile in each direction of the hot springs and the potential of an unpaved road section that had been reported from a helpful passerby bicyclist.

We hid the bicycles along the trail and hiked up to the hot springs. There we met others, encountered some general young adult behavior, and then after leaving, bicycled away. The unpaved gravel section we eventually found was brief but abrupt, especially while traveling at night. We camped along the road after it had gotten way way too dark.

In the morning we found and finally touched the McKenzie River. Beautiful. The town of Rainbow was brief. Following the now well established route on the AdventureCycling map, Orgon Route 126, we bicycled to McKenzie Bridge, where I had a mocha.

We opted for the option of Santiam Pass as the other, McKenzie Pass, seemed too steep according to the elevation profile on the map, so we stayed on Oregon Route 126. I stopping briefly at Belknap Lodge at Belknap Springs, looked around seeing a builtup resort spa then we bicycled on.

We bicycled, camping at Olallie Campground in the Willamette National Forest campsite along the McKenzie Highway near Olallie Creek.

The next day I saw some beautiful roadside waterfalls along the road of Highway 126 near Carmen-Smith Hydroelectric plant at the foot of the Carmen Reservoir. Then we had a stop at Sahalie Falls of the McKenzie River which turned into a lunch break.

We had another break at Fish Lake, a somewhat dry lake, and opposite the lakeside of the road was a huge lava field. Still a new experience to me, seeing lava fields, that I found fun. At Fish Lake Remount Depot we refilled up on water on this sunny day.

The next spot we camped at was a most exciting adventure. We saw this spot along the highway that was clearly at one time a parking area that was now blocked off by boulders. Further up the hill were branches strewn, totally not randomly, poorly concealing a trail. Then this great big lava tube pit cave was there. What was in there ? Why was it half heartedly blocked off, yet not with signage to stay away ? Smartphone google skills revealed little information for me, but I later found it was a rather famous cave, Sawyers Cave, that was taken off the roles of tourist sites to allow forest restoration and recovery. Here are some (other people's) links to pictures of Sawyers Cave: http://undergroundplaces.blogspot.com/2010/06/spelunking-at-sawyers-cave.html and http://www.allaroundbend.com/component/content/252.html?task=view . At the time of us bicycling by, there was not the photos here http://www.panoramio.com/photo/36247612 nor the gate.

There be mosquitoes here.

The next day we has as a goal of going over Santaim Pass. We left camp going up then crested a small hill then downhill passed Santiam Junction then began going uphill again. There was some weird police action as I bicycled near and around the tuya volcano Hogg Rock, phalanxed motorcycle cops around an olderstyle motorhome then more and then more cops. Both the tuya and the actions of the police drew my attention.

We crossed Santiam Pass (4,817ft) then sped downhill, seeing signs of the forest fire that had been here as well as seeing signage about the amount of erosion that Black Butte received as compared to the mountains west of here. As there was lesser water because of the orographic lift of the Cascades Range (the mountains we had just crossed), there was less precipitation, no glaciation and thus less erosion. The Geography classes I had taked I was seeing in life !

Stopped at Suttle Lake, then bicycled past Black Butte, then into The City of Sisters as we saw signs of the Rooster Rock fire of August 2nd.

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December 2012
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