Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Rain, Glorious Rain - And Other Bits

(Interweb photo)
We are finally receiving rain in Oregon.  According to the news reports last night, our last day of measurable rain was back in July when we received a mere 2/10 of a inch. Not much at all.  It has now been raining all night and the air smells fresh.

Of course it's raining and the Off Highway Vehicle areas are once again open to motorcycles - our vacation is over.  Last week we were on vacation and originally planned to play in the dirt.  Those plans were foiled when the OHV areas were closed.  Our plan B was to go explore the Oregon Caves National Monument located in Cave Junction, Oregon located off Highway 199.  A nice bit of twisty road that runs between Grass Pants Grants Pass, Oregon to Crescent City, California. Those plans were foiled as well when a new forest fire burst forth between Cave Junction and Grants Pass.  

We opted to stay close to home and have a "staycation".  Mountain bikes were walked ridden, and mountains were hiked.  We even managed to squeeze in a visit with our new nephew Max and my brother and sister-in-law.

Here are some tales and photos from those adventures.


On Thursday September 11th, Troubadour thought it was a good day for riding the bicycles.  I agreed. We hadn't really ridden them since our ride around Dorena Lake.  A new mountain bike trail had opened at Alsea Falls, about 25 miles from the house.  We loaded the bikes onto the car and headed out.

From the trailhead it was a 3 mile incline up a forest service road to the beginning of the bike trails.  A 1,000 ft in elevation gain.

(Alsea Falls Trailhead)
We walked a portion of the road.  I was just recovering from a chest cold and the incline was not helping my breathing.

(Waiting to start the Highballer)
We made it to the top and started the Highballer trail.  It was labelled a blue/intermediate trail.  If that is intermediate, I never want to see a black/difficult trail.

(Photo by Troubadour)
I like to joke and say I took my bike out for a walk that day.  I did ride parts of the Highballer, but it was a little extreme for my hybrid bike and I walked down most of it, stopping periodically for pictures or when I dropped the bike and fell over.  Yes, leave it to me to fall over when walking the bike downhill.

The following three pictures are some of the switchbacks from the Highballer.  All three photos by Troubadour.

On one particularly high banked switchbacks the bike started to slide and I gave it a hearty shove in frustration.  Bad words might have been said.  Unfortunately it popped the front brake clip and bent it a little.  Troubadour came to the rescue and fixed it for me.

A little bit of fun on the way down was spotting the two gnomes.  Of course I had to stop for pictures.

(Gnome One and a bit of trail)

(Close up of Gnome One)

(Troubadour and Gnome Two)

(Close up of Gnome Two)

(A bit of the trail - very dry hard packed dirt)
At the bottom of the Highballer is the start of the Springboard trail.  

(Looking back at the end/bottom of the Highballer)

(Start of the Springboard)
The Springboard is a nice green/beginner trail that was wonderful and made the grueling walk down the Highballer almost fade away.  Hardly any pedaling, just a smooth roller coaster of ups and downs.  At the crest of one whoop-dee-doo my left pedal clipped a tree root and broke off a reflector.  I had to laugh.  I've only had the bike since June and it now looks like I've ridden it hard for years.

We were having so much fun we didn't stop for any pictures until we came to this little wooden boardwalk.

The Springboard ended and I believe we took a bit of the Dutchman trail back towards the car.  A rapid and smooth descent.  We came to a small bridge and stopped for a look.

(Wasn't much water in the creek)
By the time we got back to the car, the bike and I were both covered in a red dust from the trail. My white running shoes will never be the same.  Maybe I should go for a walk in the rain.


Two days later on Saturday the 13th we decided to go for a hike up Mary's Peak.  The highest peak in the coastal range.  For some reason I thought we would drive the 20 miles or so to the observation point parking lot off of Highway 34 and hike the 1-2 mile meadow loop to the lookout.

Troubadour had other ideas.  A map we'd purchased several weeks ago showed a trailhead off Woods Creek Road in Philomath.  From there you could hike up the north ridge of the mountain to the parking lot.  Sure, sounds like fun.

Now, when I say hike up the side of a mountain, I literally mean switchbacks cut into the side of a mountain. There was a 2,000 ft elevation gain in the 4.5 mile walk up.  

It was a long walk that took 2 hours.  We walked through second growth forests away from the ferns and chirping birds to areas with no undergrowth and no other wildlife.  We only saw 6 other people the entire way up.

(Hiking the North Ridge of Mary's Peak)

(Troubadour found a walking stick for part of the way up)
One mile from the parking lot up top, where the trail splits, is a wooden bench.  We took a wee break.

(One more mile to go)
We emerged at the parking lot to the 3770 ft elevation sign.  

We'd made it.  It felt odd to be in the parking lot without the motorcycles.  We relaxed for half an hour, ate Cliff bars for energy, and waited for the ice cubes in the camelbak to thaw in the sunshine so we'd have sufficient water for the hike back down.

We took in the hazy views of the valley.  The valley was quite smoky for a week or two because of the forest fires around the State.

The return trip down didn't quite take 2 hours. It was harder on the legs than the walk up.  At one point Troubadour found us both sturdy sticks to ease the descent.  He'd left his previous one beside the trail before reaching the top.

At one point walking down, we stopped in our tracks.  Troubadour noticed something we'd missed on the way up.  A partial piece of log stuck in a tree.  A lot of trees were uprooted during the storms of last year and the weight of the snow, but this was the first one we'd see with large pieces lodged in another tree on the way down.

(With me for size reference)
It was 6:30 pm by the time we reached the car and we were the last ones to leave for the day. Walking through the shady trees gave the appearance of it being later than it was.  Once out of the woods we returned to sunshine.


My brother's family lives on the Oregon Coast, south of us.  They only live 2.5 hours away but we don't see each other often.  We decided to meet on Sunday in Florence for lunch and then head to the beach.  We had every intention of riding the motorcycles down there, but after the 9 miles of hiking the previous day our knees wouldn't take it.  So, we took the trusty Subaru and the kites along with us.

After lunch at the Bridgewater we headed north to Heceta Beach to relax.  It was a beautiful day at the coast. Brilliant sunshine, 70 degrees, and no wind.  So rare to be at the coast with no wind.  Not even enough to fly the parafoil kite.

We visited with T&T and played with little Max (6 months old) until late afternoon/early evening and headed home.  All pictures blatantly stolen from Mrs T's facebook page.

(Me, Mrs T, and little Max)

(Me, Mr. T, and little Max)

(Little Maximilian wouldn't look at the camera on the beach so I had to rob another pic)

*     *     *     *

Last Monday we found out about Bobskoot and that set the tone for the next few days.  We didn't do much beyond shake our heads and do some yard work.

Saturday came and we did ride to coffee.  Ta-da - I still remembered how.

Monday the 22nd, it was back to work.

I got a great surprise yesterday when I found out that Pat, aka Scooterchick and her hubby Chris, aka Scootard were coming through on their way south.  I had the pleasure of their company for lunch at Laughing Planet.    Of course, I didn't have my camera with me, but luckily they did and I have shamelessly stolen the following two pics from Pat's blog.  They get full credit for both pics though.

(Selfie from Pat's phone)

(Pat took a picture of Chris and I with her camera)
Thank you again to you both for going out of your way to meet up.  I am hoping you'll be able to stop by on your return trip and let Troubadour and I take you out for lunch or dinner.

And this weekend we get to visit with RichardM.  Hooray for blogger meet ups.

- Au Revoir

Magnificent Autumn! He comes not like a pilgrim, clad in russet weeds. He comes not like a hermit, clad in gray. But he comes like a warrior, with the stain of blood upon his brazen mail. His crimson scarf is rent.... The wind.... wafts to us the odor of forest leaves, that hang wilted on the dripping branches, or drop into the stream. Their gorgeous tints are gone, as if the autumnal rains had washed them out. Orange, yellow, and scarlet, all are changed to one melancholy russet hue.... There is a melancholy and continual roar in the tops of the tall pines.... It is the funeral anthem of the dying year." ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


  1. Thoroughly enjoyed that, yes I did. Carry on please, more of the same.

  2. excellent!!! i think we've all needed a bit of r&r to process and refocus... yay for getting out and having fun memorable times with family and friends! and holy heck those are trails! kudos! :)
    ps, we're (finally) getting rain too, thankfully. :)

    1. Thanks MQ. It was good to get out those days, but unfortunate we didn't get out to do anything fun during M-F last week. Such is life. So glad we are getting rain now.

  3. First lets start off with Wee Mr. Max - he is a cutie patootie! I love the pics of the gnomes and love it when yo find random things like that in the forest. I spotted a little troll out in the forest on a walk when I was on my moto adventure in August. We have been getting some spotty rain off and on , and it is actually nice that it has given things a good drink and it smells fresh and clean outside. Looks like you had a good vacation, lovely pictures!

    1. Thanks Dar. I agree, little Max is stinkin cute, but then I might be biased.

      I remember the treasure you found when walking. I enjoyed the pics. They are nice surprises.

  4. Mountain bike walking is a new sport. Much safer than bike riding. Less chance of falling (n.b. I didn't say no chance of falling). See you guys in a bit. Probably Saturday morning coffee...

    1. It was like a sport with the energy it took to walk up and down those trails.

      Saturday sounds good. Everyone usually starts arriving about 9(ish). See you there.

  5. Brandy - what a great mountain hiking/riding adventure. I so wish I could swap my full on mountain bike for your hybrid. The mountain bike, with all it's bells and whistles, is so cumbersome here in 'flatlandia.' Nice to meet Max too - he's a cutie.

    1. Thank you. One of the things I like about the hybrid is how light it is and it is easy to maneuver too. It turns in and out of the spare room easier than Brad's mountain bike. Bars aren't as wide.

  6. We've been anxious to check out Alsea Falls trails. Thanks for the preview. The trails look quite fun, but still rather steep. So typical of what we have around here. Claw your way to the top, fly down and hope you don't die. Don't feel bad, I too walk many of the trails. Especially the switchbacks. They seem to have it out for me. Personally I'm happiest on the forest roads and only the easiest of trails.

    1. Glad I could give you a peek into the Falls trails. There are a few videos on YouTube Brad found of them too, but I think they were made to look a bit more newby friendly than the Highballer is. We went up the forestry road to the right of the trails, apparently you can go to the left as well and it isn't as far. I think you can get to the Springboard that way without venturing the Highballer.

  7. you crammed a lot in for your break
    luv the pics of the country scenery you get to visit there

    good to see you caught up with family and friends as well

    1. Thank you. We seemed to cram it all in within 4-5 days and then didn't do much the rest of the time. Luckily my boss is still on vacation until next week so I haven't had to work too hard this week. Cheers!

  8. Wow, that was stuff for at least four postings. Quite active lately eh? The trails and the forest look very similar to our trails. For once I don't feel homesick. Well, at least I didn't until you came up with the pictures by the ocean...

    And I see that you continue Bob's legacy by meeting other bloggers. Great stuff!

    1. Probably would have been smarter to divide up the posts but I felt it was already old news. I posted the post about Bob when I would have put up the bike n hike post.

      I was thinking of Bob when I met up with Chris and Pat. It would have made him happy - he so liked it when people met up.

  9. Great pictures and adventures! I did notice the tires on your bikes seem to be quite narrow and without nubs for trail riding. Is that by design?

    1. You are correct. My bike has skinnier tires with lower tread. It is a hybrid bike, designed for road riding as well as light trail use, light gravel and forestry roads. Not necessarily full on trail riding like Brad's bike is. Those tires don't give me the confidence on these trails bigger tires would.

  10. Again lovely photographs, what a beautiful area! I have family in Oregon, in Portland and Medford and one day I hope to visit them, if we do get it right I will give you a shout so that we can meet for a coffee.

    1. Cool that you have family here. With Portland and Medford you have the top and bottom of the state covered. Definitely let us know if you are headed this way.

  11. Trobairitz,

    Glad to hear you finally got some rain. We've gotten a little over the past few days and it has been a welcomed sight. I like it when everything is nice a green.

    It never ceases to amaze me at how scenic Oregon is...several of your photos reminded me of Colorado and make me miss the mountains (I lived in Colorado Springs for almost eight years). Very beautiful indeed. I can't wait to see what you're next adventure brings. I am always impressed at how active you guys are and how much you must truly love the outdoors.

    Keep the adventures coming.


    1. It was only 2 days of rain last week, but it sure was nice. Had 79 degrees and beautiful sunshine yesterday.

      I hear Colorado Springs is pretty nice. Colorado is one of those States we think we could handle living besides Oregon. The summit on the coast range as we drive to the coast is less than 800 ft. Mary's Peak - the highest of the coastal mountains is only 4000 ft, so they aren't too big, but it is nice to be able to go play in the trees.

  12. Yes, good for you and Oregon to get that rain! And holy cow what a fabulous trail! I can smell the warm pine...What are your bikes?

    How badly did the fires affect the air quality in Corvallis?

    1. It was interesting as we climbed higher on the hike that we could smell the difference in the heat.

      Brad's bike is a Trek x-caliber 6 and mine is a Trek Verve 3. So far we really like them, we bought them in June.

      Corvallis only had 1-2 days of smoke. One of those you didn't even want to leave the house, but luckily the winds picked back up and swept it out of the valley. We get a pretty good wind about 4 pm everyday as it comes in the 60 miles from the ocean.

  13. I hope your chest cold is gone completely! I'm excited to learn Gnomes live in Oregon...I need to watch much closer on my next visit to your (now a bit wetter) state. We've been getting POUNDED by rain the last two days. My yard is becoming a swamp!

    1. Yes sir, completely gone. Seemed to get better as soon as vacation started and I got out of the germy office (the boss gave me the cold he got from his granddaughter)

      You never know where the gnomes are lurking. Although after 13 years here, this is the first we've seen of them.

      Hope your rain eases and it moves back into Oregon. We got a few days and then back to sunshine. Saved us from watering the yard though.

  14. you two must be quite fit, what with all that hiking and mountain biking!

    1. We'd like to think we were fit, but somedays, I dunno.

  15. Wow, that's some post. What a scary bike trail. But the gnomes? Squeee!!! And that was some hike. I feel tired just after reading about it and seeing your gorgeous pics. You got a beach trip in, too? Busy week! Max is absolutely adorable.

    I think about Bob often. Such a tragedy.

    1. We crammed a lot into 4 days then didn't do much, lol.

      We too think of Bob all the time.

  16. So much fun you are having! I'm getting jealous and lonely for the trees again. I can live vicariously through you now :)

    1. Some days are fun, some days are just mundane work. I much prefer the fun ones.

  17. Wow! What a time you all had! It wore me out just following you up and down those mountain bike trails! I must admit I am far too lazy for all that. I stick to the paved rail trail and even then it's slow going.

    Lovely photos, sweet, beautiful baby! Glad you all had a great time!

    Thinking about Bob too...hope his blog never goes away and then hard to look at it, so sad.

    1. Glad we could wear you out through the inter web. I'd like to think I'm too lazy for the hiking and biking, but hubby and I do a pretty good job of motivating each other. We also got in a few local 5-6 mile walks we didn't include in the post.

  18. Fantastic pics brandy. Looks like you guys had a lot of fun. The forests and mountains in your area sure are beautiful. No wonder you want to spend some time up there.

    1. Thank you Steve. We had quite a bit of fun biking and hiking. Finally got out on the motorcycles yesterday, yeah!