2018 trip report

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  • alove42
    May 30, 2018 at 2:03 pm #1706

    The Oregon Big Country route seems to be getting all the attention these days (with good reason), but if you can’t devote 8 days the ol’ Hart Sheldon Route packs a lot of bang into a shorter loop. Our crew did the a big chuck of the OBC last year then heading up and over Steens. Three of us did the Hart Sheldon route last week (5/20/18 thru 5/24). The riding isn’t difficult, but the miles do add up. 5 days was about right for us. If you like desolation, this is a good one. We saw canyons and gorges that I doubt more than a handful of people a year will view. 24 hour + stretches of not seeing another soul.

    Of note, the recommendation to avoid the route if there has been ANY rain in 4-5 days can probably be taken with a grain of salt. It rained lightly but steadily the night before we rode, and there were brief thunderstorms on each day of our ride. Aside from a few slow slogs, we managed to stay moving, though the soil saturation point was quickly approaching. Long story short, a small bit of rain isn’t a deal breaker, but be prepared to bail if the weather is iffy. Since the playa at mile 41 was a mud pit, we pushed on to around mile 62 and camped in the sagebrush with the cows, which made day 2 to Virgin Valley much more manageable. We camped at Shirk Ranch on day 3, ate dinner under the porch as it rained. Be aware there are ticks there, but the sunset/sunrise made up for the bastards. There are a couple of hub-high creek crossings, but all easy to manage. At the Hart campground, there is a great creekside spot just over the small foot bridge as you come in. The last day of gravel back to Frenchglen was boring to say the least, but great food awaited us at the inn.

    Two of us were on Plus bikes, which helped out on the rocky bits, but our guy on 2.4s did fine. If there is a possibility of mud, the best thing you can do is get plenty of clearance around your tires. If you have the option, push your rear axle out as far as you can to get clearance for the rear tire. We generally loaded up 7-9 liters each on the drier stretches but didn’t have major water stresses.

    Hopefully a few more (but not too many) folks can get out to explore this region.

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