Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Long Weekend Quandary - What to do....

Last weekend was a three day holiday weekend.  Friday was the 4th of July, Independence Day, and Troubadour finally had a free weekend with no Team Oregon classes scheduled.

The hardest part was deciding on what to do. Because his free time is limited due to his teaching schedule, I asked Troubadour to pick the weekend activities.  He indicated he wanted to be able to stay in shorts and comfy summer gear all weekend without having to put on hot riding gear.   Considering the long weekend is usually a party weekend with way too many drunk drivers on the roads, we typically stay off the motorcycles anyway.  

It is all about minimizing risk.  We minimize risk in our choice of helmet, gear, extra training, and to us one more way to minimize risk is to assess when to stay off the roads.

So, with motorcycles off the agenda that left hiking and bicycling.  How to get both into the weekend.....


Friday we woke entirely too early - before 5 am and decided after a pot of coffee and a light breakfast to go for a walk/hike in Bald Hill Park; just a short walk from the house.  The sun was up, there was a light breeze, the birds were singing, and it wasn't too busy yet.

( A Lazuli Bunting in Bald Hill Park)

(Two silly birds in Bald Hill Park)
We returned home from our 4.5 mile walk, had an early lunch and decided to try out the new Hollywood bike rack for the car by taking the bikes to the McDonald/Dunn Forest areas and ride one of the multi-use trails.  The McDonald and Dunn Forests encompass 11,250 acres and are managed by the Oregon State University Forestry program.  There are quite a few service roads and multi-use paths and trails.  Some are fairly wide and smooth for vehicles.  This part of their research forest stretches from the Lewisburg Saddle on Sulphur Springs Road over to Peavy Arboretum off Highway 99W to the east.

It is a short drive into north Corvallis/Lewisburg and we were actually surprised at how many other cars were at the gate.  We ended up parking on the side of the road, but at least it was in the shade.

(Trusty Subaru at the Lewisburg Saddle)
We chose the Vineyard Mountain Traverse, a "7.5 mile loop through old growth stands of evergreens; physically and technically easy."

It started with a long downhill grade and wound through the forest and up along a ridge.  

We passed a little lake and watched the salamanders come up for air.  It looked to be an old quarry with it's high bluffs.

There were some interpretive signs along the way explaining some of the forestry practices.

More climbing......

We did have some great views of the other ridge lines while up top.

(And another descent....)

(side road leading into some of the other research areas)

Soon we came to the half way point.  An intersection of 3 access roads. We headed up this one, west  towards the car.....

(Even the wildflowers came out to play)
We survived and made it back to the parking lot.  Loaded up the bikes and went home to make homemade potato salad and veggie dogs for dinner.  That evening was spent trying to calm Basil because of the fireworks and trying not to fall asleep on the sofa by 8 pm, we finally went to bed about 10ish.


We were up by 6 am Saturday to relax and enjoy the morning.  Before we headed to coffee Troubadour noticed his rear bicycle tire had gone flat.  That explains why it fell off its perch in the middle of the night and crashed to the floor taking my bike with it.  A rude awakening it was.

We drove to coffee and headed downtown afterwards in search of a patch kit, bike pump, and spare tube. Our local bicycle shop was closed for the holiday weekend so we ended up driving to REI in Salem.

Mount Jefferson was in full view on the way to Salem.  Mount Jefferson is the second highest peak in the Cascade Mountain range and is a stratovolcano in the Cascade Volcanic Arc.  It is 105 miles east of Corvallis and is one of the hardest volcanoes to reach in Oregon.

(Mount Jefferson viewed looking east from the Independence Highway)

We arrived home about 6 pm and had leftovers for dinner.  Not an exciting day, but definitely relaxing. We also made plans for Sunday.


The weather forecast for Sunday was a high of 93˚F (33.8˚C) in the valley. For us that meant - what can we do at the coast where we'd be guaranteed at least a 20 degree drop in temperature.

We consulted the Kissing the Trail book Saturday night and discovered the Siltcoos Trailhead, where there is a 4 mile single track intermediate mountain bike trail just south of Florence (95 miles southwest of home).  Intermediate is one rank above beginner in the book.  It sounded good, but I'd never done any kind of single track before so I was a little apprehensive.

We had breakfast, puttered a bit, loaded the bikes, packed some snacks and set off.

It took a bit to find where to pay our $5 parking fee.  The Siltcoos National Forest has a few parks and trailheads in and around Siltcoos Lake as does Lane County and the State Park system and each one is different.  They cost different amounts and you pay different entities.

We parked at the trailhead and there was only one other vehicle.  We unloaded the bikes, strapped on the helmets and gloves and looked at the uphill climb.  At least that meant it was downhill to the car on the return trip.  Rather than take the book with us I took a photograph of the trail map in case we needed to consult it on the fly.

(Siltcoos mountain bike/hiking trail photo from book)

(Photo from Trailhead - notice how it says on the bottom left, "rated more difficult")

(A fairly wide trail with lots of tree roots to start off)

(The trail narrowed to wind through the old growth trees)

Some areas of the trail were against a bank on one side and steep drop off on the other, and in other areas we seemed to zoom through a rolling valley floor.

We eventually came to the primitive camping spots at the half way point.  These campsites can either be accessed by boat or by hiking/bicycling.  They even have a "vault" toilet.  An outhouse by any other name .......

Some of the campsites had picnic tables.

(Troubadour - never let fear and common sense stand in your way)

(More of the trail)

(A view of Siltcoos Lake from one of the primitive campsites)

From the campsites we kept following the trail.  We took a 0.4 mile detour down over fallen logs and through a blackberry thicket to another group of campsites.  Then it was a 0.4 ascent to get back to the main trail.  The trail wound up then down and after a fairly rapid descent we rode across a boardwalk only to be stopped by stairs.

(Yes, we had to go up and around the stairs)

(Looking back from the bottom of the stairs)

(View from the top of the stairs)
I believe it was while pushing my bike up the path around the stairs huffing and puffing that I said: "Buy a mountain bike they said, it'll be fun they said." After the stairs it was a fairly long climb before we hit a rapid descent to the trailhead.  No more picture stops.  I was certainly glad to be back to the trailhead and off the bike.  Sure I could have ridden more..... downhill.

It was a great ride and I am sure we will do it again.  It sure was different from the ride on Friday.

And just in case you are interested.  I found a video on YouTube where someone recorded part of their ride on this trail.  Here it is:

At the trailhead, we had a snack of trail-mix (what else) then loaded up the car and headed north to Florence.  We stopped for petrol at Fred Meyer and I went inside for some bananas and cherries.  We feasted on fruit on the way home.  You know you're vegan when fruit for dinner hits the spot.

It was 69˚F (20.5˚C) on the coast and by the time we got home to the valley at 6pm the temperature had returned to 91˚F (32.7˚C).


1 - Flat tires
2 - Bikes fallen over in the house
4.5 - Miles hiked/walked
7.5 - Miles of forestry roads ridden in Corvallis
4 - Miles of single track ridden in Florence
2-3 - Bruises and Scratches:  a few on the shins and damn those blackberry vines
0 - Sore bodies:  surprisingly neither of us were sore after all that riding
Amount of fun:  Can't be measured

I was surprised at how much my motorcycle skills came into play on the single track.  Not just picking my lines along the trail and avoiding obstacles, but looking through a turn too.  Troubadour said that this track was actually tighter than the single track dual sporting they do at Huckleberry so now I am really looking forward to my first off-road adventure there.

*     *     *     *     *

I work Friday morning this week and hubby teaches on Saturday.  That leaves Sunday as our only day to play.  So far the forecast is for 96˚F (35.5˚C) temps in the valley.  Not sure what we'll do to duck the heat.  It does make us long for a return of the temperatures in the 80's, and just where did the rain go?

Don't get me wrong, we are not complaining about the heat.  After the cold winter we had, our friends joke that the first one to complain about the heat gets a punch in the throat.  Not it!

- Au Revoir

" Courage is doing what you're afraid to do.  There can be no courage unless you're scared." - Edward Vernon Rickenbacker


  1. Trobairitz:

    It's been hot here too. In fact too hot to ride and have to wear all the gear. I keep looking at that single track trail and I don't think I could do it. You two are in much better shape than me. I only have a small engine . . . Vancouver temperatures are recorded at the airport which is on the water. We are always warmer than what they report on the news. We are getting a heat wave here starting Friday, I'm thinking shorts and T-shirt weather.

    Hope your bikes didn't get scratched from the fall. They're too new to have scratches.

    Riding the Wet Coast

    1. You could probably do the single track Bob, you'd just be huffing and puffing like I did. Think of it as combining hiking and biking. When it gets too steep you get off and push.

      I don't think the bikes got scratched inside the house when they fell over. Wouldn't have mattered anyway since I scratched up my pedals pretty good careening off stumps Sunday.

    2. Trobairitz:

      I didn't realize you were "pushing" your bike up the hills. I thought you were riding all the time. I think I could Push too. I used to have a rule to be riding all the while, and not walk, so if I got tired on a long hill I would stop to regain power (not push the bike), and then I would ride from where I stopped to rest.

      I think I would be huffing and puffing so much that I would not be able to breathe, then collapse

      you are so thoughtful to let Brad wear his summer stuff. It's not fun to ride in gear and sweat. That's why lately I have just been enjoying the A/C in the car.

      I'm not sure where we have these single track trails anywhere around here. Looks like fun to be out in the forest enjoying nature. Not so sure about those primitive campsites though

      Riding the Wet Coast

    3. There wasn't a lot of pushing but we really had to around those stairs as it was steep. My lungs can't always handle too much incline in a row so I will stop and take a drink then carry on. I sure didn't walk them all, lol.

      Vancouver must have single track through Capilano or something. Just google Vancouver mountain bike trails - you never know what you might find.

  2. I'm not going to complain about your temperatures either as I don't want to be slugged. But since I'm in Barrow again and it might be above freezing today, even 40°F would feel great. You have some beautiful areas to ride your bicycles in. Wonderful looking trees!

    1. I would gladly give you a smidgeon of our heat. Although 40 does seem rather chilly right now.

      Do you happen to keep a bicycle at your mom's? We could take you out next time you're in town. If nothing else we can all go for hike.

    2. Nope, no handy bicycle anywhere (unless you count the one that I keep in my office for use in the winter).

    3. So next time you visit we'll hike instead. :-)

  3. I wish we had that temps over here... just now we were sentenced to a cold snap, only 13C (55F in American), tons of rain and flooding. IN JULY THAT IS. You had a brilliant outing, and the scenery is very motivating for the so inclined cyclist. I thought I'd never said that but bicycle riding is fun, and it looks like it is for you, too.
    Looking forward to more of those pedal powered adventures.

    1. Wow, you are getting a cold spell. Makes up for that mild winter.

      I was always a person who would rather walk or hike than bicycle, but I must admit I am having a blast. I must not have been doing the right kind of biking, or had the wrong kind of bike.

      Well, that and I only thought I was going to die one or two time on Sunday, lol. Come on lungs, you can do it. In through the nose, out through the mouth......

  4. Trobairitz,

    Looks and sounds like you guys had a blast. I don't know how fast you guys were moving down the trail but the video made it look very fast. :-) I definitely understand the hot temps, it's been in the mid-upper 90's (even hit a 100 a few days) for the past few weeks. But that's Texas...

    Thanks for sharing some awesome photos.


    Live Free. Ride Hard. Be Happy

    1. We did have fun. I don't think we were going as fast as the video, maybe that is why we didn't fall over. But we still did pretty good downhill.

      Hmmm heat and Texas, they just go together don't they? I'd be happy if I could find a place that is 75˚ all year round.

  5. Looks lovely. I don't like to ride on holidays,either.

    1. On;y 4 people died on Oregon roads last weekend so that is good. And I don't think any were riders.

  6. Looks like some awesome trails, though I think I'd rather hike than bike (a whole different muscle group required.) I totally understand wanting to stay off the roads on the holiday weekends.
    We haven't had the heat here in the east yet, but I hear it might happen. No Complaints!

    1. Definitely different muscle group when biking. We are enjoying it though and Sundays ride combined hiking and biking. Some times I felt like I was taking the bike for a walk uphill, lol.

      Hope you see some of this heat.

  7. from the pictures it seems that you had a great time and and figured the quandary out of what you could do
    glorious pictures of the surrounds up there
    a Q do you get bears through that area where you were riding and if a yes do you see them
    that would worry me

    1. We do have black bears in Oregon although I've never seen the signs. I was used to growing up watching for bears in British Columbia so the thought of them doesn't bother me. I don' think they've been sighted around our parts or where we were riding. I think they stick more to the Cascade mountains to the east of us.

      Cougar sightings on the other hand have been more popular locally as of late. Where we were on Friday had a cougar sighting in May this year.

  8. Slightly disappointed that the proper bikes stayed locked up...

    But it looks like you have some really nice areas for mountain biking. Those "trails" you did look like main highways to me - the DL would love to cut loose in them. The second look like a lot of fun on a mountain bike.

    1. Yeah, I know, but know we were thinking of the Tiger and the XT250 when we were out in the woods. The ride on Friday would have been fine on the Tiger or even the Gladius (I've taken it on worse) But that single track would have been fun on the 250. I think I even heard Brad make vroom vroom/braaap noises while on his mountain bike.

      Only Sunday free this week, BUT next weekend we have another 3 day weekend with no teaching. Now where to ride to on the 'proper' bikes.

  9. A thoroughly enjoyable long weekend. Very nice.

    I enjoyed coming along for the ride.

    1. Thank you David, it was fun. I am still surprised we were not sore and hurting after.

      I could have done without the mosquito bites I got in the woods on Sunday though. Luckily they only attacked my upper arms.

  10. Holidays, weekends, from 4-7pm...oh for a world without cars!

    I got out a bit on my bike too. I realized how much I missed it and want to do more of it myself.

    I love the trails that you guys explored - lush and green and cool-looking!

    Glad you enjoyed your 4 days off as did I!

    1. Glad you managed to get out on your bike too. Sometimes the hardest part is just getting out there and then you remember how much fun it is.

  11. You have more gumption than ScooterChick and I. We managed to drive to Naramata to visit Mom, bought a couple more bikes, and watched Macy's and Seafair 4th. on TV. You and Troubador must have calves of steel.

    1. Hey Chris - thanks for stopping by. The bikes you two picked up are pretty cool. Looks like you are enjoying them too. I always enjoy reading of your travels.

      I dunno about calves of steel, but I can tell you the thighs were burning pretty good on our last uphill climb.

  12. Good on you Brandy!
    Those trails looked like great fun and how much more of an "experience" do you get when on a bicycle!? It is the best of both worlds.
    All hills are good, be they up or down. Up is great for your fitness and health and down is the payback. Just remember, they never get easier, you just get faster(and fitter).....;-)

    1. I thought you might like that last trail.

      Good to know it doesn't get easier, but at least we'll get faster.

  13. It really looks like you had the perfect weekend without riding. So great to live in such perfect places.

    1. We definitely love the Pacific Northwest, it seems to have a bit of everything.

  14. Sounds like my kinda weekend.

    1. Yeppers, something tells me you would have enjoyed it too.