How a “ride” becomes a “project”.

As diehard fans of the website know, The Logging Road Cyclist likes to ride on the Laurel Mountain massif . He has, in fact long had his eye on a circumnavigation of Laurel Mountain via the prominent plateau, or rim, that surrounds the Mountain proper. On all the maps, there is a pretty clear route around that has, at either end (as visually determined by TLRC himself), really big roads. One was lead to believe then, that the road all the way around was big too. As will be seen, one was wrong.

As a sweetener for this proposed ride, at the far northern end of the loop, where various roads form the nexus at Boulder pass, there is some fine geology to look for. TLRC recently found a wonderful website that contains all the published geological maps in the country. Here, he found the geological map of the Dallas and Valsetz quadrangles, and there, he found that at Boulder Pass, not only is there delineated the long-sought Rickreal Limestone Member of the Yamhill Formation, but a dip-slip fault juxtaposing it, the ubiquitous gabbro of the high peaks and the Siletz Volcanics! Truly a place deserving of some nosing around.

Thus Saturday found TLRC and his stalwart Sancho Panza , Big D., heading off into a day that looked pretty wintery, but still held some possibility for the optimist.

Rather than follow the main 8-7-6, 8-7-6.2 route shown on all the maps, TLRC  (having spied on the maps a road that followed an elegantly curving creek up to a high point on the circumnavigational rim) persuaded D. that this was the Way. In his mind’s eye, TLRC saw a pretty, forested ride, not the actual vicious clearcut that really was there. But there was hope. After a false start, they found the true road and started up the creek. The road had serious decommissioning ditches every 50-100 feet, but TLRC was persuaded (somehow) that once they got into the forest, this nonsense would stop. On and off the bikes they went, and forest or no, the ditches were constant. Of course, after putting in a half an hour or so on this, the pair was too committed to retreat, and so continued up to the final forest wall below the ridge where the road ended in a tangle of saplings, blackberry and downed logs.

Crossing a ditch early on the trip up Windmill Cr.

Reversing the process wasn’t much more fun, but the silliness of the whole thing was keeping D. and TLRC pretty happy. Finally obtaining the main road, off they went,  so exhilarated by the sense of speed that the cold wind and hail was hardly noticed.

View roughly S from the 8-7-6 showing part of the plateau.

Just past the point where the last picture was taken, the “main” road plunged off to the E, while the “correct” road got suddenly a lot smaller and headed off into the woods, which were quite pretty. The road steadily shrank and got worse, with lots of derailleur-grabbing sticks, logs to jump and and logs to walk around.  Finally it minimized itself to an 8-foot wide ditch. Even so, once in the forest, with the winter conditions howling about outside, this was a wonderful place to “ride”. At this point, TLRC and D. agreed they were on the losing end of the deal and probably should cut their losses for the day. Good thing: later GPS analysis showed they were about  1/3 of the way around, with a lot more obscure sections to push through.

Where the 8-7-6 still looks like a highway. Note rhododendrons thriving in the 120 in. of rain per year.

Once again they struggled back through sticks and logs (but at least no ditches) to where sustained riding was possible. They day had turned cold, and back at K-Junction where they stopped to button up for the long descent back to Black Rock, TLRC took a big swig from his bottle and suffered an esophageal ice cream headache, not realizing how cold it actually was, and what that had done to his water. Once he could stand up straight again, off they went, and the rest of the ride passed without incident, except for that the rear brake pad on D.’s (handmade by himself!) bike wore down to metal and sounded like a knife being sharpened on a wheel all the way down.

Sooooo, they will have to go back, next time straight through to Boulder Pass, where  geologizing in moderation can occur, the better to save time to make it all the way around. At least they have a known point to shoot for.

TLRC did come away with a valuable lesson: Don’t use Vibram 5 fingers on rainy, muddy days. They are impossible to put on over wet feet, and if one is trying this as a preliminary to standing up in the mud to finish pulling his Carharts all the way up, it can present a rather unappetizing aspect to one’s companion…


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