Condenser Peak is the forested, rounded height at the top of the Mill Cr. drainage. It lies a few miles NNW of Laurel Mountain. At just over 3000 feet elevation, it counts as a pretty high point for Oregon’s Spectacular Coast Range, but just fits in with the giants of the Laurel Mtn. Massif. Strictly speaking, there’s not much of a reason to go to Condenser Peak. Certainly there isn’t much of a view, since there are no meadows, and at present there isn’t a clearcut. On the other hand, from the Valley floor, it is an obvious point and, once one is aware of it’s existence, Condenser is a necessary objective for those who feel compelled to get to all the recognizable features in the Range.
There are other reasons. As pointed out in the March 18, 2013 blog post “No Limestone for You TLRC“, Mill Cr. is beautiful, and there is always the possibility of some limestone up high. From an information-gathering point of view, it is useful to get to that logging road nexus Boulder Pass, the better to be less confused if passing that way again from another direction.
At any rate, The Logging Road Cyclist had deemed it an Objective, failed once and was thus honor bound to make it. It turns out to be a very nice ride. The first 7 miles or so follow Mill Creek. With the exception of carrying around the washout and Horrible Hill, it’s an easy ride. The latter rises about 600 feet in a mile, which wouldn’t be so bad if if weren’t covered in a few inches of loose 2″-minus rock. Beyond that there is a drop back down to Mill Cr., and then an easy climb up Shumway Cr., and along the side of the Mill Creek drainage to Boulder Pass. TLRC had Intelligence that a road went all the up Shumway to the loop road around Laurel Mtn., but was unable to find it, hence the little detour on the map.
For a ride of this length straight into the heart of the Coast Range, this one has a remarkably even and low gradient. Most of the time, even the notoriously wimp-geared TLRC found himself happily in his middle ring.
At the Pass, TLRC indulged in a bit of prospecting. Scholarly sources indicate that some limestone (that rara avis amongst all the basalt, gabbro and sandstone lying around everywhere) is to be found here. Unfortunately, the location given is vague, and makes reference to a long-gone logging camp. The massive clearcut that occupies the target area doesn’t help much with the geologizing either. TLRC gave it a try though, and headed off SE along a likely-looking break in slope that sort of matched the description on the treasure map. After a few hundred yards, a yellow-white cobblestone stood out in the road ditch. TLRC hoisted it and broke it open by flinging it mightily down against another rock. With shaking hands (well, TLRC’s hand always shake, but anyway…), TLRC put on his nifty Fred Meyer readers (without which he is blind as a bat for anything within about 3 feet) and sure enough: Limestone! TLRC groped around the clearcut a bit uphill of his find, hoping to find an actual outcrop, but this displaced hand specimen would have to do. A chip went into his pack for safekeeping on the way home.
From Boulder Pass it’s an easy ride over to Condenser, and there are good views down Mill Cr.:
and likely off to the NE as well, in better weather. About here Condenser heaves into view:
It’s a fun and quick ride back down, and here’s a final pic of Mill Cr:
All in all, a good day.