Upper Middle Santiam via Roads 2047 and 2049

The Logging Road Cyclist had been lollygagging about out by Valsetz and closer to town for the better part of the summer. Part of this was the result of TLRC’s excessive sense of public responsibility during the pandemic, which had lead him to places close to home (where they had been asked to stay by the authorities), and part of it was because he hadn’t felt up to the more substantial efforts required by some of the more distant and difficult rides. TLRC leaves it to the reader to judge how the reasoning was apportioned…

Like a lot of people, as the crisis dragged on and became more of a lifestyle, TLRC felt OK about wandering further afield. He also felt healthier and able to ride longer. This lead to a prosecution of the S Santiam Wagon Trail via the divide, and the more profound Blue River/1509/15 loop. An hour with the Sweet Home District map later yielded three pretty obvious routes into the region bounded by highways 20 and 22. Two seemed pretty severe, one pretty reasonable, so to the latter TLRC went.

The region is dewatered by 4 main rivers: S Santiam, Middle Santiam, Quartzville Cr. and the N Santiam. All of them contain some sections of prime whitewater. On the east lie the peaks of the Old Cascades; from them towards the west are the ghastly wastes of both private and public timberlands. Here also, in a desperate irony lie the Middle Santiam Wilderness, a profound remnant of pure old growth, and the Wild and Scenic section of Quartzville Cr., a section of river seemingly as pure and beautiful as any TLRC has run, as long as one ignores the savagely cleared-off slopes adjacent its banks.

For his first bicycle trip here, TLRC chose to climb out of the S Santiam canyon (always a lot of work) via the main 2047 road. It’s less than 3 miles and about 1000′ to the divide.

Looking down. Sheep Cr and the 2047 to the S Santiam.

From there, one drops down to the Middle Fork.

Old Cascade Peaks above the Middle Santiam, from 2047.
High on the Middle Santiam, 2047 bridge
High on the Middle Santiam, 2047 bridge. Note the cave.

From the bridge over the Middle Fork, a short steep climb leads to the junction with the 2049, the way back. With a bit more persistence, one could head up the the S Pyramid trail and look at some nice trees.

The 2049 is pretty heavily logged, but the extra length back to the divide means it’s middle-ring all the way, instead of the backtracking grind retreating on 2047 would entail. There are also some fine views of some of the Old Cascades Peaks.

Iron Mtn (right?) and other high peaks above Tombstone Summit, from 2049
Crescent Mtn from 2049
Chimney Rock above clearcuts and some forest, view from 2049

Blue River Loop

Quote

For a long time now, the 1509 road along the S Santiam/Blue River (McKenzie) divide has been one of The Logging Road Cyclist’s favorites. He has done a number of rides described here that incorporate parts of this remarkable road. An obvious route that he has delayed doing until now traverses the 1509 from beginning to end and returns on the 15, the main drag along Blue River.

This is one of the best rides in the TLRC ouvre: easy enough to actually do, yet hard enough to ennoble the rider, passing by pleasant forest and spectacular views to distant peaks and down wild drainages, not to mention passing just beneath the impressive crags of  Wolf Rock.

View down Tibits Cr. early in the ride. 1509 can be seen clinging to the opposite canyon wall.

To start this ride go past Blue River on Hwy 126 to Blue River Reservoir Rd, the start of FS 15. Proceed up past the reservoir and Mona campground to the 1509 junction, where Tidbits Cr. enters Blue R. Gear up and climb for a good long time.

Sisters from 1509 road.

Looking down one of the Southside drainages at Cougar Reservoir.

 

Mt Washington.

Edge of Twin Buttes, near junction with 2044.

When you hit the 2044 road, you have done the serious climbing. Note this junction for possible further use as it heads down to House Rock on the S Santiam and Gordon Lakes. As the 1509 now rolls along the divide, longer views are had.

Iron Mt, Browder Ridge, Mt Jefferson between.

The tippy-top, elevation-wise, is is just past Latiwi peak. Glide down to the 15 junction and then float dreamily down to the pretty Blue River past impressive Wolf Rock. You’ll be happy you did this one.

Stott Mountain

From his early days of exploring around Valsetz, The Logging Road Cyclist has been intrigued by Stott Mountain. The most remote of the local, big (>3000′) peaks, Stott is served by a complex road network which uniquely may allow driving access (sometimes), clearcuts of a magnitude that even TLRC finds disturbing and their concomitant superb views (more below), and even has a USGS professional paper describing the sill upon which the very existence of Stott Mtn relies.

TLRC made a midwinter attempt on Stott many years ago that was thwarted by a poor understanding of the local geography and inadequate maps. Earlier this summer, while hors de combat, bicycle-wise, in an effort to get to know it, TLRC and Devil Puppy tried to walk to the summit via the shortest (steepest) road out of Gravel Cr, which bounds Stott to the south. They almost made it, but pulled the plug four miles up to avoid a longer slog, the better to keep both of them injury free. This was a valuable source of information, however, for it prompted Gnat to ride out there, knowing the way off to the south was not a dead-end. He summited, and in a bout of obsession that made TLRC proud spent the next four weekends out there filling in the roads, leading to a well-known Stott and some good rides. This is a spectacular area, with tremendous relief by local standards. Stott and Sugarloaf face each other across the NF Siletz, and each rises 2600′ above the confluence of that stream with the South Fork.

There are three roads up from Gravel Cr., (from east to west) up Stub Cr., NF Gravel Cr. and the third one which TLRC and DP walked up. Gnat also explored the easiest way up (shown here in TLRC’s loop) which climbs up from near the Valley of the Giants.

The picture below was taken from a previous TLRC ride up Stub Cr., and shows the steep upper portion of the mountain along with typical clearcuts. The road diagonalling through the clearcut is steeper than it looks and is the key to getting to the top from both Stub and VOG.

Upper west side of Stott from south, Stub Cr. Rd.

Art Loggeaux on the diagonal, Stott Southside.

Near the top, the views begin in earnest.

Big Tip

But more of the modern practice of logging thin little trees becomes apparent.

Harvesting pencils below the summit.

Very close to the summit, the ever-vigilant geo-TLRC literally stumbled on this outcrop.

The fascinating outcrop near the summit.

He found this on his first Stub Cr ride and became obsessed enough that the next weekend he returned and did his VOG loop with a geology hammer and hand lens. He thought initially that this might be an example of Yamhill sediment fragments being torn off and incorporated into the intrusive magma that forms the sill: an example of stoping (mostly because he wanted it to be this). Hammer and lens forced him to drop this hypothesis and left him with rarer speculations…

The Stott frenzy that gripped Gnat and TLRC lead to some profound geographical revelations. Excluding Marys Peak (4097′), all the highest peaks (twelve, +/-) in the Central Coast Range are between 3000′ and 3500′ in elevation. Five (Laurel, Riley, Fanno, Sugarloaf, Condenser) lie in what TLRC refers to as the Laurel Mountain Massif (why he does).  Bald Mtn and Stott lie adjacent. From the summit of Stott Mtn, five (including Stott) are visible, as is (to TLRC’s surprise) McCulloch Peak.

View E from summit.

The reverse view is even more productive:

View to Stott, etc. from near McCulloch, looking down Woods Cr. to Kings Valley.

 

A word on recent logging practices. TLRC strives to maintain an apolitical site here, but he has noticed an uptick in Coast Range logging activity over the last five or so years. Clearcuts seem bigger, more numerous and to be in smaller and smaller trees. Moreover, some companies are getting much more aggressive about keeping everyone off of their land and roads, even if those roads are the only access to Federal (i.e. our) land. He is scientist enough to know that this is just an impression, no matter how clear it is to him, or how disturbing he finds it. This recent story confirms his suspicions.

Chandler Mountain

Image

There are times when the feet of The Logging Road Cyclist aren’t a mess. His plantars aren’t torn, and his Morton’s aren’t neuromacizing. Then he likes to strike out afoot rather than on wheels and enjoy striding out. Also, Devil Puppy gets to come.

She too has had problems the last couple of years, but together they have worked themselves back up to eight miles or so at a time, with care.

So, eight miles. Too short for a ride, but maybe just right to explore an addition to another ride? Here is a worthwhile extra 6 with a moderate climb that takes one to a surprisingly nice viewpoint smack in the middle of the Valsetz Triangle: Chandler Mountain. TLRC has ridden over Chandler Pass to the east, and recently looked over Fourth of July Creek to Chandler Mountain from the west. That was when he first thought about actually climbing up it. It’s a perfect spot for those who like poking around Valsetz but shy away from the ferocious, wheel-spinning climbs up the major summits frowning down upon the remains of the Lake.

The route is straight forward, and all on good road. There are signs of predators:

Kat Skat: big as a softball.

And the promised views:

Valsetz Lake and South Fork Gap

Big Tip, Big Saddle

The twin peaks of Bald Mountain, and, in the distance our own Forest Peak and Price Peak

And of course, the cheesecake shot:

Local Big Views

Someone recently asked: “TLRC, would you mind displaying a recent example of your widely known and highly praised deductive powers?” Of course. The Logging Road Cyclist is happy to indulge.

Why just the other day, TLRC and his buddy Gnat did a ride out to Big Saddle, where they had some Big Views. These, he did not note at the time,  but will now, are generally the result of the big private logging companies turning conifer forests into views through the obvious expedient. Well, he deduced, since OSU Forestry is the source of academic insight into forest management and probably taught the companies a thing or two, and since OSU Forestry owns forests near home, then pretty likely some conifer forests had been turned into views that TLRC could go see without the drive out to Valsetz.

He decided to visit Forest Peak, a place he had been many times before, but not much lately. Given the general rate of view-making in the Coast Range in recent years, and on OSU property in particular, perhaps, he reasoned, there’d be some new views to be had. A test of his “deductive powers” lay to hand.

It was a beautiful winter day, sunny and warm. Dropping from the Nettleton Loop down to Soap Cr affords some pretty nice scenes.

A View fights back against the upstart Conifers

The ride has a couple of offensive stretches of pavement, up to and along Tampico Rd going out, and from Soap Cr back to Sulfur Springs coming back. From Tampico Rd to the north lies the impressive basalt wall of the dump, capped by the little geodesic dome (look close).

TLRC once was told (probably apocryphally) that the dome was the local radar for the BOMARC antiaircraft missile installation that was nearly completed and abandoned at Adair Village. Certainly there is a lot of concrete left over at Adair from it. BOMARC was an early cruise missile that had about a 400 mile range and could go Mach 2.5. It was 45 feet long, 18 feet wide and hunkered in bunkers and tilted up to launch vertically. It carried either conventional or nuclear warheads. Think about that the next time a younger person talks about growing up in the shadow of Apocalypse. TLRC grew up with getting-under-your-school-desk-to-mitigate-the-nuclear-blast drills in a time when setting off an atomic airburst near the coast off Portland or Seattle to get a bomber seemed like a good idea compared to the alternative.  TLRC waits for it: OK Boomer.

The climb up from Tampico to Forest Peak is about 4 miles and pretty stiff. At about two miles, is the reward:

A not-quite-perfectly-constructed-View, but pretty darn good

TLRC has been coming up here for years now, and was startled at how much light there can be.

On the other hand, the elves have lapsed at the top, and the View at the summit of Forest Peak gets worse every year, a good excuse not to do the final excruciating couple of hundred yards to the top.

Summit of Forest Peak

 

Big Saddle; Big Surprise

The Logging Road Cyclist is, generally and by most accounts, an enthusiast. The enthusiasms vary, to be sure, and sometimes follow one another in rapid and bewildering succession. But (dread word), he has become a bit jaded when it comes to digging out new rides. A, je ne sais quois, comment on dit sort of ennui has settled upon him. Fortunately his riding buddy Gnat has picked up the slack and has been proposing new routes with head-spinning speed.

This one was a loop up and over the steep ridge bounding Valsetz Lake on the west. A moderate ride as they did it at 15 miles and under a couple thousand of climbing. Indeed, this ridge, comprised of a hard diorite that props up the complementary features Big Tip and Big Saddle (!) also has the prominent gap at its northern end that held the dam that made the lake they called Valsetz (after the Valley and Siletz railroad). The big surprise of this ride was all the views.

This ridge lies below all the major features that ring Valsetz Lake, but is high enough to give a clear view of the lowlands and the surrounding peaks and ridges. TLRC has visited most of them at one time or another, but their height and positions make everything seem rather distant. Big Tip-Saddle ridge, with its lower elevation, gives a closer, more uniform view of what all is going on around Valsetz. Loge seating, as it were, for a local geography and (don’t worry, TLRC will leave it out this time) geology.

Here’s an area map so the reader can get the picture.

 

TLRC and Gnat started just down from the old dam site, and coasted a bit to the turnoff up the ridge. Gaining the first height, they had a great view smack down the main Siletz River. This is still way up above the whitewater run, rather in the area around the mysterious Falls.

Looking south down the Siletz canyon.

As they climbed higher and higher up the west side of the ridge, the views towards Stott Mtn and Sugarloaf got better and better. Swinging around from Stott, the watershed of the N Siltetz opened up, giving a view straight into the surprisingly sharp canyon of lower Warnicke Cr. and a sideways look at Boulder Cr. over a shoulder of Sugarloaf. The dusting of snow on the high country mitigated the otherwise depressing severity of both old and very recent, massive cuts.

Sugarloaf (center). Warnicke and Boulder Crs are to the left. Valsetz dam site lies directly below Sugarloaf

After not too hard of a ride, the pair attained Big Saddle. TLRC was hot for Big Tip, and sprinted off. The correct turn was uphill, and likely that and inexcusably bad map reading caused him to lead the happily lead-astray Gnat off on a goose chase where Gnat could pose his bike before an ocean view. They also had a very good look in profile at Big Tip. Truly protuberant, that would have been a cruel endeavor to mount, and they were just as happy to deflate their expectations and head on down.

On the way down, the clarity of the relation between the Oregon Coast Range Intrusive suite and local geography, and the fact that here, it is dioritic rather than the usual gabbroic stuff (leucocratic!) broke TLRC’s usual iron will, and he held forth to poor befuddled Gnat.

TLRC explains to Gnat exactly the situation in excruciating detail

On a simpler aesthetic note, the Valley fog spilling through the Luckiamute gap between Bald and Little Grass Mtns and over Cougar Ridge was just pretty.

 

 

 

Fourth of July Creek

Last week, The Logging Road Cyclist was poking around the internet looking for something or other about rides around the area and he stumbled upon this webpage. Seems like Mr. Bingelli too has gotten fascinated by rides in the Valsetz Triangle, that region bounded by the Laurel Mountain Massif-Bald Mountain highlands on the north, and the Little Grass Mountain-Green Ridge complex on the south. The Luckiamute River, drains it to the west and the South Fork Siletz to the east. If you stay off the highlands, its a good place to find moderate rides. TLRC recently found a fascinating paper on the geology of this region ( Baldwin, 1964) and got fired up to knowledgeably nose around out here again.

A few years ago, he had done a nice loop, riding up Rock Cr., down Sunshine Cr. and the Siletz, passing Fourth of July Cr on the way. He liked the name, and given all this recent interest, and a desire to close another Triangle loop, he and Gnat headed out on a truly dismal late February day to check it out.

TLRC gets ready to roll

The loop is about 18 miles and 900 feet or so of climb.

 

The ride started with the climb over the Luckiamute-Siletz divide, passing the turnoff to Chandler Pass. They rode in steady, heavy rain, marveling at the massive new clearcuts high on the east flank of Chandler Mtn. The ride is a combination of pleasant and interesting mixed second growth with astounding clearcuts where the old stumps of the first-growth stand out of the slash like rotted teeth.

It’s pretty easy to find the way. After crossing the divide and riding down Rock Cr a ways, one arrives at a five-way road nexus. Next take the one-two-third turn up Fourth of July Cr. From the top of the climb out of that creek, there are nice views back down the valley,

and east over to Chandler Peak

TLRC ponders whence he came

Chandler Peak

After the initial soaking rain, TLRC and Gnat had a bit of hail and a bit of wet snow before it got kind of sunny in a soggy sort of way. They basked a bit at the junction east of Valsetz, put on their spare sets of dry gloves and pedaled back to the car. TLRC wore his rain jacket all day, a rarity.

One reason TLRC likes riding out here is he gets to see his little black piggies. There were none on the way in, but going home there they were, and one came out to greet TLRC.

Narcoleptic piggy

 

Old Blue Mountain

Old Blue Mountain sits above Highway 34 and the North Fork of the Alsea. At 2800+ ft., it’s not one of the biggest Coast Range peaks, especially when compared with Mary’s (a bit above 4000′) and Grass Mountain (a bit above 3500′),  which loom above Old Blue to the north and southwest respectively.  It’s a pretty tough ride up though (note that the tracker died on the way down, so the true mileage is 15.5 or so, with about 2600′ to climb in 7 3/4 miles.

The Logging Road Cyclist had long eyed Old Blue, partly because it was an obvious feature with a cool and unusual name, and partly because he had ridden past it any number of times heading into the NF Alsea drainage. Vague maps, a densely forested summit, and bigger fish to fry had kept him away.

But a few weeks ago, TLRC and Devil Puppy had hiked up Mary’s Peak, and for the first time he noticed that Weyerhauser had finally gotten to the top of Old Blue. Google Earth showed an obvious path up. Looking for a shorter sort of ride and Something New, TLRC hauled himself off to check it out.

Five miles of moderate climbing through a moderately pleasant “forest” leads to a big three-way intersection at the divide into the NF Alsea. Go right, take the next right and climb 1600 feet in the next 2.75 miles. Just go uphill at each intersection.

At the top there is a unique close up view of Mary’s Peak from the south,

and at the reverse azimuth a full view of the loooooong profile of Prairie Mtn/Peak and the pastoral lower reaches of the NF Alsea:

 

TLRC had a nice quiet ride until the end, where someone was popping off with a small caliber firearm. As usual TLRC whistled as loud as he could in a vain hope to alert the gunners of his presence as he swerved into the defilade provided by the cutback. He felt pretty safe there until well behind all the action.

TLRC Reviews the ISM PM 2.0 Saddle

Disclaimer

The Logging Road Cyclist has no relationship with ISM other than the full price he paid to the vendors from whom he obtained the saddles reviewed here. The opinions expressed in this review are his alone and may not apply to other cyclists, although he hopes that they are useful.

Abstract

The Logging Road Cyclist reviews the ISM PM 2.0 mountain bike saddle on his road, gravel and mountain bikes. He finds that in terms of relieving perineal pressure, this saddle does everything the manufacturer claims., i.e. that pressure on the perineum is relieved while riding. After 6 months of testing, TLRC never had his significantly damaged pudendal nerve affected, and once correctly adjusted, the saddle is quite comfortable.  The only drawback to the ISM saddle is that it requires significant setback for it to be fit correctly, possibly requiring expensive setback seat posts for proper adjustment.

Introduction

Three and a half years ago, The Logging Road Cyclist severely damaged what he came to believe was his pudendal nerve. After about a year he was recovered enough to start trying out “perineum relief” saddles of which there are many. He has tried most of them, generally without success. He believes that some of them might well have prevented his injury, but, once he was injured they were not sufficiently effective at removing pressure from that sensitive spot. (As an aside for any other cyclists suffering rom this malady, the most successful thing for both rehabilitation and diagnosis for TLRC was pelvic floor therapy, provided by a suitably trained physical therapist; yes, they do it for men too.)

When searching online for saddles that claim to relieve perineal pressure the ISM family shows up among the first candidates, and indeed they were one of the first such saddles that TLRC tried. However much he wanted them to work (and he really, really did), TLRC just couldn’t quite figure out how to sit on them, and they scared him a little, he not wanting to re-injure himself.

Lately he ran into another old cyclist who was using one, and shortly thereafter found this very good video on fitting ISM’s and he got intrigued again. And this time, he figured out how to adjust and use the PM 2.0, and was very pleased with the results.

Fitting the ISM

There is a lot of good information on the ISM website and various YouTube videos about setting up these saddles. Generally speaking, they show how to do it, but the details are a bit trickier. There are two things going on. First, the new user is not quite sure how to sit on these very different saddles. Moreover, as ISM says, at first their saddles may not be comfortable, given how different the sitting position is. TLRC wholeheartedly agrees. Given that one is not entirely sure how to sit on the saddle, and initially may be uncomfortable when sitting on it correctly, how does one go about fitting it to the bike? This is why using ISM’s takes some commitment and an investment of time and rides done with wrenches to hand.

The basics are simple. Since one sits on the front of the saddle, the saddle needs to be displaced to the rear if the rider is to maintain his original position on the bike. ISM also recommends that the saddle be lowered a bit relative to a “normal” saddle. Again, there are lots of resources out there. It would probably be a big help to spend the money and find a fitter who knows how to work with ISM saddles.

TLRC did it himself and, fiddling with four bikes (for he committed), it took quite a while. He does not suggest this as an optimal way to do things…

Riding the PM 2.0

Once adjusted correctly, this is quite a comfortable saddle. To TLRC’s surprise there are a number of riding positions that he finds congenial. Since this is one of ISM’s short saddles, there is a tilt at the back. One can snuggle one’s sitbones just in front of this and it feels like sitting in a sling chair. Slide up a bit and roll forward, and the pubic ramii take up the load. Slide a bit further up and the sitbones can rest on the twin noses just as well. TLRC has no idea if these are all “official” riding positions, but they work for him and allow various parts of the load-bearing surface to rest from time to time. The more forward positions allow for forward weight shift on steep climbs.

Remember that these saddles are designed to be ridden forward. From a male perspective, TLRC finds “almost off the front” about covers it. If chafing on the inner thighs occurs, one is likely not forward enough. Chafing in the groin area may also indicate that the saddle is too high (ISM recommends starting 5mm lower than your present saddle). TLRC got a terrible case of irritation behind his legs when the saddle on his full suspension mountain bike was way too far forward (more anon). 

The tilt of the saddle is also important, and requires quite a bit of work. TLRC found it best to tilt the saddle down enough that he felt himself sliding off the front and bring it up incrementally from there to a point of stability.

But here is the salient point: Even when poorly adjusted, TLRC suffered no discomfort at all in his damaged area. It is hard to emphasize this enough. He is very conservative about what saddles he will try, out of fear of re-damaging himself and being unable to ride (which has happened). It took him a month to figure out that he was safe on these saddles, and then could concentrate on adjusting them correctly.

Setback: The Fly In the Ointment

As stated, these saddles are designed to be ridden on the forward part. To keep the rider positioned as with a regular saddle the ISM must be moved back “2-3 inches” (per ISM) with respect to that regular saddle.  This is a really long way.  If, like TLRC on his road bike, the saddle is already pretty far back on a setback seatpost, it just won’t work. TLRC found that for his road bike, he needed a 32mm setback FSA K-Force post and for his gravel bike a 16mm setback Niner seatpost (and he wouldn’t mind a little more). These are $200 seat posts, so you have the best part of $400 above the seat post tube.

For mountain bikes with dropper posts, the choices are limited. TLRC found a Nine Point Eight that worked (another bunch of $$$).

The only thing TLRC knows about saddle construction he learned while repurposing the Bontragers to his own saddles, so this may or may not be a reasonable request: Could ISM possibly design a saddle whose rails can accommodate the required setback on a straight seat post?

Conclusion

For the primary and important goal of avoiding damage to the soft tissue in the perineum, TLRC found the ISM PM 2.0 to be very effective. Three of his four bikes required pretty spendy setback seat posts to accommodate the ISM saddles. Adjustment has been a long process, but ultimately TLRC has found these saddles to be quite comfortable, certainly more so than his homemade ones.

TLRC recommends trying one of these saddles if one is interested either in preventing or recovering from soft-tissue injury in the perineum. It certainly beats making your own! Good Luck.