hydroflask.com
hydroflask.com

Remote Connections

—By Lucas Alberg

Read More


  • Unexpected Connections

    Bikepacking is the beautiful meld of backpacking and bicycle touring. You get the miles and speed of cycling, but the views and serenity of backpacking. Bikepacking (and its trendy cousin gravel grinding) tends to gravitate toward remote areas with the bulk of riding on gravel and dirt roads, rails-to-trails and occasionally singletrack. Paved roads are mostly used as connectors between the less traveled pathways. The Oregon Outback route, which traverses the state of Oregon for over 365 miles from Klamath Falls in the south to The Dalles on the northern border, includes all of the above.

    Our summer journey included four buddies representing both coasts of the US. Several of us were family men, one of us was from NYC and another had more jobs and projects than you can count. Needless to say, being in shape and fully prepared was more of an idea than a reality. What we lacked in fitness, however, we certainly made up for in enthusiasm.


  • Not all Roads are Created Equal

    Quickly we learned a few things about bikepacking. First, not all roads are created equal, and with many roads come roadblocks. In this case, about every half-mile of the rails to trails pathway we started on included gates delineating one ranch property from another. Keep in mind these are legitimate ranches, so we got pretty familiar with the animals. Cows mostly. And cow patties. If you weren’t careful, more than you cared for. All good fun and, in time, we felt like cowboys driving the herds. In hindsight, we were lucky we weren’t charged by any bulls. But, hey, when in cow country…

    “Being in shape and fully prepared
    was more of an idea than a reality.”

    None of us had ever really bikepacked before, and, although cyclists, we realized that riding gravel and dirt with loaded down bikes was much more tiresome than the silky smooth pavement we were used to. Which is why our first local connection came just at the right time. Rolling into the tiny town of Sprague River, we noticed an unusual number of vehicles around the town grange. Dressed in spandex and bright rain jackets, we didn’t exactly blend in. Still, curiosity – and the overly social attitude of one team member – soon had us indoors eating savory BBQ alongside the locals. A backdrop of country music classics played by a local band had everyone in a good mood. We were smiling ear to ear while stuffing our faces. The layover gave us exactly what we needed to finish out the day.

    This first encounter set the tone for us on our Eastern Oregon odyssey – one of warmth, openness and acceptance. This trend continued throughout our trip and even though the number of people we met was small, it was the grandness of each encounter that was memorable. Maybe it was because we were something different; someone new to talk to. Or maybe we were simply the beneficiaries of a certain way of life; one that still puts credence in being able to borrow sugar from a neighbor, share the overages from the garden yield, or jump a dead battery on a cold morning. Or, as one member put it, maybe all the pieces were simply there and we were open to accepting them.


  • Roughing it with Steak and Eggs

    We bush camped that night following a gas station dinner of cookies, beer and half-cooked microwave burritos. The start of day two had us feeling good. We segued onto gravel county roads and into the pine and juniper forests. Our initial optimism was quickly beaten down by what was the worst weather day for us. Torrential rain, sleet, cold temps and headwinds relentlessly battered us throughout the day. Morale took a nosedive, minds and bodies were fatigued and fingers and toes were downright numb. Luckily there was a light at the end of day two’s tunnel. This light was a glorious 30oz steak.

    You are given two choices when you dine at the Cowboy Dinner Tree: a monstrous steak the size of your face or a whole chicken. The food is home-cooked, the staff authentic, local and kind, and the ambiance exactly like an old cabin in the middle of nowhere should be: spare but warm and welcoming. Chilled, soaking wet and feeling defeated, we quickly warmed up by the wood stove’s blazing fire while waiting for our reserved table (the Cowboy Dinner Tree only takes reservations). Once seated and warm, we devoured as much as we could before bagging the rest for steak and eggs in the morning.

    We were adventurous souls, but a rough, wet day and an unaltered forecast led us to a cheap motel that night. With age and experience comes wisdom, and one lesson we’ve each learned over the years is that one small sacrifice along the way can lead to a trip saved. Knowing that camping in the rain in soaked clothes would only lead to a bad start the next day, we made the call to dry off indoors. And, let’s be fair, four grown men in a 10x10 hotel room is still roughing it…

  • Groovin’ on a Sunny Afternoon

    Day three started with strong headwinds and a brooding sky, but eventually the sun did shine and the winds subsided. By mid-afternoon we were nearly halfway through the trip and finally in the groove. We blazed by Fort Rock, a castle-like volcanic tuff ring jutting 200 feet above the flat ground on our way to the best campsite of the whole trip. Up to this point, the weather and our mileage (or lack thereof) had limited us in our camp socializing since we had been rolling in at dusk. This night was different and a prime find in the pine trees gave us a perfect opportunity to build a fire, crack the flasks and grill our leftover steaks (yep, we carried steak leftovers nearly 70 miles with us on the backroads). This was the connection and bonding we sought. All in all, a great way to cap off the day.

    The following day was our smoothest yet. The miles flew by on a scenic road paralleling the Crooked River, one of the state’s best fly fishing locales. Armed with Tenkara Rod Co. setups, we took advantage of the sunshine and surroundings and spent our break casting for trout along the banks. For once we were ahead of schedule and were even able to breakout the drones and GoPros for some aerial shots. From there a short ride into the town of Prineville, the largest along the route, rewarded us with iconic burgers and shakes from the throwback diner Tastee Treet. A rendezvous with our families who drove in from nearby Bend provided us with some familiar and loving faces. Kissing babies, eating burgers and downing shakes – yes, please!

    That night we had planned on camping in the national forest 10 miles outside of town. Instead, we met a local rancher who offered us a nice dry spot in their new and well-kept horse barn. With running water, a roof, walls and nearby toilet, we gladly accepted the kindness of yet another stranger.

  • Granny Gear and Light Beer

    Day five was a roller coaster of epic ups and downs, hills and valleys. The Diamondback carbon bikes we were riding were proving their worth on the remote outback roads as we blazed through creek crossings and over bumpy terrain. That day we climbed 4,500 feet over 58 miles and learned that there’s no shame in Granny Gear. We also learned that asking a stranger in the middle of nowhere for water can lead to more than just a refill.

    About halfway through the day we realized we were running low. In the middle of nowhere, we did as anyone desperate for water would do: asked a complete stranger for a fill. The woman kindly obliged and topped off our Hydro Flasks from her garden hose. Just as we were about to roll off, her husband pulled up in his old ranch truck.

    Surprisingly, we had just chatted with him and his trusty Australian Shepherd when he stopped to check in with us on the road. After convincing him we were fine, he looked over at his Australian Shepherd dog and shouted out, “She thinks you’re crazy; I think you’re just plain stupid!” Back at his house, we soon shared beers and stories about the community history and the family farm. These are the encounters that build bonds and memories – no matter political beliefs, appearances and ideas. Connecting with good people is sometimes the only thing that matters.

    The rural kindness didn’t end there, either. That evening, we rode into the remote town of Antelope. Well outside of any national forests, we asked a local if there were any good places to camp. “Camp right here!” he said, pointing to an empty lot next to his place. We did just that and in a matter of hours were having more beers – this time with the local “lawnmower patrol,” a larger than life character with ample experience. Many stories and beers later, we settled in for what was our last night of camping on the trip.

  • The Grand Columbia

    Our last stretch of riding was our longest mileage yet, but by far the easiest. A bit of climbing in the beginning of the day turned to some rolling hills and then bombing down thousands of feet of perfectly paved roads to the mighty Columbia River. In hindsight, we probably should have savored it a bit more had we known that 70 miles could go by so quickly. Another reminder of the differences between riding gravel and pavement.

    By early afternoon, we were at our pickup point outside of The Dalles, where a shuttle was about to return us home. We were early enough to do a little reflecting on the trip. We’d expected beautiful scenery and were not disappointed. Oregon – and the remote parts of Eastern Oregon that often get overlooked – is spectacular, grand and serene. The desolate towns we rode through were unchanged from decades past and largely struggling in modern times. However, there was a beauty to that loneliness, and it was driven by the residents still living there. These powerful connections are what we’ll long remember and carry with us back to our lives in our very different cities.

Read Full Article

Unexpected Connections

Bikepacking is the beautiful meld of backpacking and bicycle touring. You get the miles and speed of cycling, but the views and serenity of backpacking. Bikepacking (and its trendy cousin gravel grinding) tends to gravitate toward remote areas with the bulk of riding on gravel and dirt roads, rails-to-trails and occasionally singletrack. Paved roads are mostly used as connectors between the less traveled pathways. The Oregon Outback route, which traverses the state of Oregon for over 365 miles from Klamath Falls in the south to The Dalles on the northern border, includes all of the above.

Our summer journey included four buddies representing both coasts of the US. Several of us were family men, one of us was from NYC and another had more jobs and projects than you can count. Needless to say, being in shape and fully prepared was more of an idea than a reality. What we lacked in fitness, however, we certainly made up for in enthusiasm.


Unexpected Connections

Bikepacking is the beautiful meld of backpacking and bicycle touring. You get the miles and speed of cycling, but the views and serenity of backpacking. Bikepacking (and its trendy cousin gravel grinding) tends to gravitate toward remote areas with the bulk of riding on gravel and dirt roads, rails-to-trails and occasionally singletrack. Paved roads are mostly used as connectors between the less traveled pathways. The Oregon Outback route, which traverses the state of Oregon for over 365 miles from Klamath Falls in the south to The Dalles on the northern border, includes all of the above.

Our summer journey included four buddies representing both coasts of the US. Several of us were family men, one of us was from NYC and another had more jobs and projects than you can count. Needless to say, being in shape and fully prepared was more of an idea than a reality. What we lacked in fitness, however, we certainly made up for in enthusiasm.


Not all Roads are Created Equal

Quickly we learned a few things about bikepacking. First, not all roads are created equal, and with many roads come roadblocks. In this case, about every half-mile of the rails to trails pathway we started on included gates delineating one ranch property from another. Keep in mind these are legitimate ranches, so we got pretty familiar with the animals. Cows mostly. And cow patties. If you weren’t careful, more than you cared for. All good fun and, in time, we felt like cowboys driving the herds. In hindsight, we were lucky we weren’t charged by any bulls. But, hey, when in cow country…

“Being in shape and fully prepared
was more of an idea than a reality.”

None of us had ever really bikepacked before, and, although cyclists, we realized that riding gravel and dirt with loaded down bikes was much more tiresome than the silky smooth pavement we were used to. Which is why our first local connection came just at the right time. Rolling into the tiny town of Sprague River, we noticed an unusual number of vehicles around the town grange. Dressed in spandex and bright rain jackets, we didn’t exactly blend in. Still, curiosity – and the overly social attitude of one team member – soon had us indoors eating savory BBQ alongside the locals. A backdrop of country music classics played by a local band had everyone in a good mood. We were smiling ear to ear while stuffing our faces. The layover gave us exactly what we needed to finish out the day.

This first encounter set the tone for us on our Eastern Oregon odyssey – one of warmth, openness and acceptance. This trend continued throughout our trip and even though the number of people we met was small, it was the grandness of each encounter that was memorable. Maybe it was because we were something different; someone new to talk to. Or maybe we were simply the beneficiaries of a certain way of life; one that still puts credence in being able to borrow sugar from a neighbor, share the overages from the garden yield, or jump a dead battery on a cold morning. Or, as one member put it, maybe all the pieces were simply there and we were open to accepting them.


Roughing it with Steak and Eggs

We bush camped that night following a gas station dinner of cookies, beer and half-cooked microwave burritos. The start of day two had us feeling good. We segued onto gravel county roads and into the pine and juniper forests. Our initial optimism was quickly beaten down by what was the worst weather day for us. Torrential rain, sleet, cold temps and headwinds relentlessly battered us throughout the day. Morale took a nosedive, minds and bodies were fatigued and fingers and toes were downright numb. Luckily there was a light at the end of day two’s tunnel. This light was a glorious 30oz steak.

You are given two choices when you dine at the Cowboy Dinner Tree: a monstrous steak the size of your face or a whole chicken. The food is home-cooked, the staff authentic, local and kind, and the ambiance exactly like an old cabin in the middle of nowhere should be: spare but warm and welcoming. Chilled, soaking wet and feeling defeated, we quickly warmed up by the wood stove’s blazing fire while waiting for our reserved table (the Cowboy Dinner Tree only takes reservations). Once seated and warm, we devoured as much as we could before bagging the rest for steak and eggs in the morning.

We were adventurous souls, but a rough, wet day and an unaltered forecast led us to a cheap motel that night. With age and experience comes wisdom, and one lesson we’ve each learned over the years is that one small sacrifice along the way can lead to a trip saved. Knowing that camping in the rain in soaked clothes would only lead to a bad start the next day, we made the call to dry off indoors. And, let’s be fair, four grown men in a 10x10 hotel room is still roughing it…

Groovin’ on a Sunny Afternoon

Day three started with strong headwinds and a brooding sky, but eventually the sun did shine and the winds subsided. By mid-afternoon we were nearly halfway through the trip and finally in the groove. We blazed by Fort Rock, a castle-like volcanic tuff ring jutting 200 feet above the flat ground on our way to the best campsite of the whole trip. Up to this point, the weather and our mileage (or lack thereof) had limited us in our camp socializing since we had been rolling in at dusk. This night was different and a prime find in the pine trees gave us a perfect opportunity to build a fire, crack the flasks and grill our leftover steaks (yep, we carried steak leftovers nearly 70 miles with us on the backroads). This was the connection and bonding we sought. All in all, a great way to cap off the day.

The following day was our smoothest yet. The miles flew by on a scenic road paralleling the Crooked River, one of the state’s best fly fishing locales. Armed with Tenkara Rod Co. setups, we took advantage of the sunshine and surroundings and spent our break casting for trout along the banks. For once we were ahead of schedule and were even able to breakout the drones and GoPros for some aerial shots. From there a short ride into the town of Prineville, the largest along the route, rewarded us with iconic burgers and shakes from the throwback diner Tastee Treet. A rendezvous with our families who drove in from nearby Bend provided us with some familiar and loving faces. Kissing babies, eating burgers and downing shakes – yes, please!

That night we had planned on camping in the national forest 10 miles outside of town. Instead, we met a local rancher who offered us a nice dry spot in their new and well-kept horse barn. With running water, a roof, walls and nearby toilet, we gladly accepted the kindness of yet another stranger.

Granny Gear and Light Beer

Day five was a roller coaster of epic ups and downs, hills and valleys. The Diamondback carbon bikes we were riding were proving their worth on the remote outback roads as we blazed through creek crossings and over bumpy terrain. That day we climbed 4,500 feet over 58 miles and learned that there’s no shame in Granny Gear. We also learned that asking a stranger in the middle of nowhere for water can lead to more than just a refill.

About halfway through the day we realized we were running low. In the middle of nowhere, we did as anyone desperate for water would do: asked a complete stranger for a fill. The woman kindly obliged and topped off our Hydro Flasks from her garden hose. Just as we were about to roll off, her husband pulled up in his old ranch truck.

Surprisingly, we had just chatted with him and his trusty Australian Shepherd when he stopped to check in with us on the road. After convincing him we were fine, he looked over at his Australian Shepherd dog and shouted out, “She thinks you’re crazy; I think you’re just plain stupid!” Back at his house, we soon shared beers and stories about the community history and the family farm. These are the encounters that build bonds and memories – no matter political beliefs, appearances and ideas. Connecting with good people is sometimes the only thing that matters.

The rural kindness didn’t end there, either. That evening, we rode into the remote town of Antelope. Well outside of any national forests, we asked a local if there were any good places to camp. “Camp right here!” he said, pointing to an empty lot next to his place. We did just that and in a matter of hours were having more beers – this time with the local “lawnmower patrol,” a larger than life character with ample experience. Many stories and beers later, we settled in for what was our last night of camping on the trip.

The Grand Columbia

Our last stretch of riding was our longest mileage yet, but by far the easiest. A bit of climbing in the beginning of the day turned to some rolling hills and then bombing down thousands of feet of perfectly paved roads to the mighty Columbia River. In hindsight, we probably should have savored it a bit more had we known that 70 miles could go by so quickly. Another reminder of the differences between riding gravel and pavement.

By early afternoon, we were at our pickup point outside of The Dalles, where a shuttle was about to return us home. We were early enough to do a little reflecting on the trip. We’d expected beautiful scenery and were not disappointed. Oregon – and the remote parts of Eastern Oregon that often get overlooked – is spectacular, grand and serene. The desolate towns we rode through were unchanged from decades past and largely struggling in modern times. However, there was a beauty to that loneliness, and it was driven by the residents still living there. These powerful connections are what we’ll long remember and carry with us back to our lives in our very different cities.


Minimize Story

Want refreshing stories in your inbox?

Hydro Flask Blue Bottle Hydro Flask Blue Bottle
NATE’S TOP PICK

"Our Hydro Flasks kept our coffee hot in the mornings, and our water cool in the warm afternoon sun. When you’re putting in 60+ miles a day, hydration is key and Hydro Flask never let us down."

NATE’S TOP PICK

"Our Hydro Flasks kept our coffee hot in the mornings, and our water cool in the warm afternoon sun. When you’re putting in 60+ miles a day, hydration is key and Hydro Flask never let us down."

Hydro Flask Blue Bottle

Explore More Stories