Sunday, June 23, 2013

You are here

What's heavy and yellow and doesn't roll up small?

My real rain jacket. So, how about the lighter jacket? Much more stylish. Less waterproof, less warm but definitely smaller. Traveling light. Isn't that a perk of doing big miles? The weather has forced  my hand and the route for Day 1 consists of...Day 1 and Day 2. No fooling.

Near the summit of Dead Indian Memorial Road, it starts to rain. Last night while debating the jacket, a key piece of information was missing. I should have realized the road goes to 5200 feet. That's what happens when you don't look at a map. When you don't have a map. People who have maps and look at them quickly realize this ridge is the southern edge of the Cascade Mountain Range. Left and right signs warn of snow, direct to the Sno-Park, mark ski trails. Even a warm front from Hawaii can be cold up here.

There's also a pretty good view of the front moving in from the Pacific. This thing is not blowing over. I've never been on this road before and it's pretty deserted. A pang of fear.

I take off the Camelbak, unroll the yellow jacket and put it on. At least I'm wearing the right stuff.

The descent to a high meadow is comfortable. By some quirk of fate I'm not quivering with cold while fashionably dressed. Being warm enough helps with everything else, including navigation.

The next turn is key and thanks to a sign that was wonderfully paid for with our federal tax dollars, we know the road is the first turn after the lake. Keno Road, that's it.

Jacket, check. You are here, check! Love it. Two things going right and the day is young.

A dry winter has turned the "lake" into more of a grassy meadow. Hard to tell where it ends. I keep looking for some kind of transition into forest. There are a lot of Forest Service roads up here (well, really logging roads) but most are unpaved. Just before an uptick in the road there's an intersection off to the right. I turn there.

A map would have been no help. The road isn't signed. No sign, no sense at all whether this is Keno Road. I turn at least partly because after climbing 18 miles to the ridge, my legs are voting members of Parliament. They're avoiding further hills. And the road has a gate across it, with a sign saying No Snow Removal. The gate is open.

Turning over the pedals, I think It has to be a paved road because they don't plow any other kind. Also, It's in the right place. And, signs and gates cost money. It has to be the kind of road people are tempted to take. It leads somewhere.

I keep pedaling. After 10 miles, another sign gives the confidence to keep going. I'm warm, with plenty of food and water and a bike that's working fine.

It's 15 miles before a car passes, a white truck towing a closed storage trailer. In the next 30 miles, 3 cars total. A strange road.

After a while I realize it's following the top of the ridge. It must have also been a logging road. If gates and signs are pricey, long roads take serious cash. They don't get built for bikes. There must have been a mill down there near the town of Keno. This road must have been for hauling logs out of the forests above the Klamath River. No logging trucks now.

Somewhere on a descent on the east side of the ridge it stops raining. Eight miles later turning east on Oregon 66, Green Springs Highway takes me to the bottom of the hill, where the river reveals itself.

If today were not a long day, if there were a choice I would have to stop right here.

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