The Logging Road Cyclist was feeling frisky last Saturday, so he took off for somewhere new, namely to attempt Stott Mountain. This was an old idea of D’s, but since he wasn’t around, TLRC decided to go off and have a look for himself.
Stott is high by Coast Range standards at just over 3000 feet. It looms over the NF Siletz across the way from Sugarloaf Mtn. and the chasm between the two peaks is something to behold. Also beholdable, as it were, are the truly massive clear cuts that have been visited on this whole drainage. In spite of that, the NF Siletz is a beautiful stream that hides away in the peaceful remnants of its valley.
Not all is gone. At the head of the North Fork is a little set-aside of old growth, the Valley of the Giants, which the BLM holds as an artifact of what once was the nature of this region.
The road net around Stott seemed, on the maps and Google Earth, to be pretty complex. TLRC’s plan was to head up the NF and then find his way to the summit by one of a couple of roads that was clearly marked on all his sources. Descent down the south side seemed pretty straightforward, given that there are some pretty distinctive loops and junctions that TLRC thought should be pretty obvious.
Driving in from Hoskins is a long 40 miles, a 20/20 split of pavement and gravel. Crossing over the Luckiamute-Siletz divide, TLRC saw that the high peaks had snow, and heard a huge engine roaring down towards Valsetz, perhaps a big helicopter. Just to be on the safe side, he wasted another 45 minutes going up Gravel Cr. to check that his planned descent road actually existed, and it seemed to. Returning to the base of the NF road, he set off upriver.
TLRC had been here before. Once, with #2 wife, he had run the river in a tandem open boat, and then later with kayaks he returned with his buddy Dan Coyle (maker of fine custom wooden helmets/objets d’art). That trip turned into a minor epic. Dan forgot the front wheel of the shuttle bike, so once the run was done, they walked the shuttle, up to Valley of the Giants. On the way back TLRC’s truck blew a tire on the steepest part of the road, so they changed the tire in the precarious dark (no flashlight). Mobile again, they couldn’t find where they had stashed their boats (no flashlight). Navigating by the sound of side creeks, they found them after what seemed like a long time. They got lost on the snowy road net on their way home, and after another long time of almost complete bewilderment, stumbled into Falls City, a long way from the target, Hoskins, but at least somewhere they could get home from. TLRC bought one of those big cop flashlights the next day, along with a new tire.
The ride up the river is quite pretty, and as it was yet another of the fine, very cold January days, TLRC enjoyed himself.
After the steep climb above the bridge, one comes to the Valley:
Beyond there, it seemed simple enough: follow the road along the river for a couple of miles on the clearly designated road:
which actually runs into this bridge not far from VOG. Being loath to cross this decayed log bridge while alone and spend the next hour bushwhacking only to have to cross it again, TLRC opted for the other clearly designated road, which, after a couple of steep and rocky miles ended thusly:
If nothing, else, these are prime examples of The Fundamental Axiom: had TLRC foolishly gone up what appeared to be the simple south side roads, hoping to have dropped down these, he would have been in a fine kettle of fish.
On the way back downriver, TLRC stopped to admire and photograph this scene. A new clearcut into the small, dense, second- (third?) growth that predominates here reveals what once was. As if emerging from a receding sea, the forest floor has been exposed, revealing the huge, dispersed stumps of the original forest that, like Valley of the Giants, ruled before man.