It always seemed, The Logging Road Cyclist mused as he geared up in Mill Cr. County Park, to be colder in this part of the world than it should be. Even accounting for the Laurel Mtn Massif to the south, blocking much of the paltry winter sun, it was cold. TLRC was better prepared for this than usual, having brought actual rain gear and padded jacket. No more freezouts for him.
He was back to try to drop into place yet anther piece of a long-standing puzzle: a gravel circumnavigation of Laurel Mtn. This was really the last bit, connecting Rickreall Cr. to Mill Cr. Over the last couple of years, TLRC had familiarized himself with the Massif to the point where he could pretty much go map-free where he liked. If he could cross from Rickreall into Mill Cr., a Dallas-intiated route could go through all on known roads.
He had tried this crossing two springs ago from the other side. All the maps showed a road coming up from the Aron Mercer Reservoir and descending Cedar Cr. to Mill. At the top of the divide, TLRC could discern not a hint of a road heading north, and, after casting around for a bit headed back down, where he ran into a little group of four (1-2-3-4) adolescent cougars lying about in the road, like TLRC enjoying the sunny spring day. As he stood there watching (cats between him and where he needed to go), they gradually in ones and twos sauntered off down the road and up into some dense new trees, about 15 feet away from where TLRC needed to pass.
Today’s task was to try from the north and see if he could find a way over. Google Earth showed a tantalizing trace through clearcut and trees, so off again up the scenic Mill Cr., today kayaker heaven with ample water and open gates.
Reaching Cedar Cr., he turned up it and headed for his goal. After a couple of pleasant miles up this surprisingly large creek, things got nasty: washouts, lots of debris that required walking. TLRC was wondering how long he was willing to do this, when a pair of bowhunters coming the other way told him that it got worse soon: the recent ice storm had brought down a lot of trees, and even for them, bikeless, it was pretty much impassable. An unridable road is just as worthless as no road at all for a long circumnavigation, so TLRC (lamentably hyper-caffeinated today) walked back with them to their truck, and doubtless they felt better informed on any number of issues by the time he mercifully left them to their lunch.
As it was, TLRC got a nice 20-mile ride out of it, and a cool look at a remnant stand of old growth up Cedar Cr.