Ride Around Prairie Mountain

When The Logging Road Cyclist starts to explore a new area, there are typically 3 stages of obsession: 1) get to the highest point, 2) traverse the high point, and 3) ride around the high point. Prairie Mountain was the template. This ride (gpx) is stage 3. It took TLRC a couple of years and a lot of rides to figure it all out, mostly because of the obscurity of the last five miles.

The ride begins up on the South Fork of the Alsea River, where it runs along  South Fork Road past Alsea Falls. Below the Falls is Herbert McBee Park where there is a loooooong picinic table made from a single slab of fir. The 10 miles or so down to the Deadwood Highway is a rolling downhill run on pavement.

Grass Mountain looms in clouds above the Alsea valley.

Pavement leads south from Alsea to a climb over a spur of Prairie Mtn.  After a few miles, one passes Prairie Mtn Road, the quickest way up there. It is correspondingly steep, but

paved in part. One summer’s day a few years ago, TLRC parked at a turnout here and prepared to take off on a long road bike ride through the paved hinterlands beyond. Contacts in, gear on, he stepped a discrete distance off of  the turnout to relieve himself, pre-ride. As he squatted, a cloud of ground bees swarmed up like a wing of Spitfires towards the Luftwaffe of his nether regions.  As the first hits were scored (not There,  or There, give thanks), TLRC hopped away swatting and screaming out loud. Escape done, he made a quick assessment: 5 or so Down Below, and a direct hit on the right eyelid, with stinger still in place. He anticipated two things, first a swollen eye, so out went the contacts, then anaphylaxis (since he had never been stung so many times before), so he got in the truck and headed towards civilization, just in case.  Soon he was in cell phone range, and contacted The Long-Suffering Girlfriend, just to give her a heads up, and yes, hopefully to garner some sympathy. Here is a little quiz by which the interested reader may judge the nature of TLRC-LSG relationship. When informed of the unfortunate events did TLSG:

1) Offer to drop everything and meet TLRC in case he needed help.

2) Tell TLRC how sorry she was that such a horrible thing had happened and how full of empathy, sympathy and all that stuff girlfriends are supposed to be full of she was .

3) Laugh uncontrollably and loudly, repeatedly interrupting herself with: “I’m really sorry to laugh, but….it’s…just…so…ffffUNNY!”

The answer is at the end of the post.

Once over the Prairie Mtn spur, turn left (still on pavement) onto Hazel Glen Rd.  and head into the mountains again.

Signs of earlier civilizations on Hazel Glen Rd.

The sun was so bright this morning TLRC was almost crazed.

Sun, meadows and the canyon of upper Lobster from Hazel Glen Rd.

After the pavement ends, one passes the hamlet of Gordyville, and rides along the scenic creek.

Now begins the long and deceptively hard climb up to the Condon Cr. divide. The road is often rocked and rough. TLRC passed some time in here with a couple of quad riders who were coming back from Horton, whence TLRC was bound. They turned off their machines and chatted, warming up quite a bit when TLRC revealed his encyclopedic knowledge of all things Logging Road within 50 miles. He always garners a lot of respect from the locals for doing this stuff on a bike.  One of them told TLRC why the Siletz drainage roads have been closed off by the most recent owners. Apparently some idiot with a 50-caliber rifle (that’s really really big, to the uninitiated) fired a tracer round (a bullet with incendiary material on the back) into a stump, which started a fire, which burned several hundred acres of whatever it is that passes for forest up there anymore. After this the conversation turned to vandalism in general out in the forests, and what a big problem is, but these guys were convinced that all the shooting up of logging equipment was done by “enviros” and “greenies”. TLRC kept his own counsel as is his wont….

Grind done, one obtains the Condon divide, and drops down to Condon Cr. and pavement again. Just outside Horton, one is usually charged by a horde of Labs.

Three siblings, and Mom, the closest black.

They actually seem ferocious at first; TLRC is the first to admit that being charged by four 80-pound dogs is unnerving. But really, they are  just a bunch of big goofy dogs who want to say hi. Nice family too.

This ride has an amenity not often seen by TLRC:

Horton Store

Check it out: When you walk in the store in bike togs, the proprietor always asks: “Did you come in for your banana? They’re over there.” Where appropriate, a gold dollar is given as change. Nice place, nice guy, free small coffee.

In the home stretch, one passes the serene Hult Reservoir.

After which it’s a mile of steep pavement, followed by the tricky route back to South Fork Road (the last part is the 15-6-18). Be forewarned: The last couple of miles have had a lot of blowdown the last couple of years, and it’s a lot of work to get through. This ride (2/2013) was better.

Answer to quiz: (3)