July 2, 2017
Day 36 Grouse Gap to Little Hyatt Reservoir, miles; 1708-1741
Distance 33, trail time; 8:42, average speed; 3.8, minimum elevation; 3720, maximum elevation; 6662, total ascent; 4983, total descent; 6992,
Oregon, sweet home Oregon. It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood. Stayed in the trees most of the day, which was nice in the heat. We broke out into the open often enough to keep the ride from getting boring. Most of the day we were in the Soda Mountain Wilderness. I’ve seen more day hikers the past two days than on all the rest of the trip. Janis explained it is the 4th of July weekend. I saw my first rattlesnake of the trip today.
Five miles into the ride today Mercedes and I left the Rogue River Nat’l Forest and entered privately owned land. The trail paralleled and stayed close to Mt. Ashland Rd. from camp until we reached I-5, a distance of nearly 20 miles. Perhaps the local land owners have been taken advantage of in the past as there was an overabundance of No Trespassing and Keep Out signs. One property owner felt so strongly that a string of large boulders, complete with accompanying signs were situated in such a way that travelers on the trail were confined to a five foot wide strip between the rocks and the 50 mph traffic on Mt. Ashland Rd. All this in a place where there was a clear line of sight for a half mile and no residence, building or other sign of human occupation. It seems a shame to me that either the trail users are so ill mannered the land owner thought this their only recourse or the land owner couldn’t see their way to sharing 20 feet of their property for a national treasure.
Once across I-5 the vibe was a lot more relaxed. The day hikers, while surprised to see a horse, were friendly and inquisitive. I’m getting pretty good at explaining what I’m doing, why I don’t need a packhorse or even large saddle bags, what kind of horse Mercedes or BG is, and the like in five friendly, smiling sentences or less. I’d like to stop and visit for as long as they would like to, but I’ve got a long ways to go and I kind of need to stay with it. Sometimes they are just so friendly I linger awhile. All the same good manners are good manners and we need to make time to be ambassadors for all horse people.
There wasn’t a lot of trail water today and a lot of riding in the sun, Mercedes was glad to see her bucket and pan of mash.
July 3, 2017
Day 37 Little Hyatt Reservoir to Dead Indian Memorial Highway, miles 1741-1761
Distance; 20.4, trail time; 5:08, average speed; 4 mph, minimum elevation; 4485, maximum elevation; 6163, total ascent; 3786, total descent; 3024
And before someone brings it up, I did not name the highway, it is the only name used on three separate mapping applications, and you are right, politically incorrect at a minimum. I really don’t want to taint this column with politics, this bombshell was dropped in my lap and I’m not exactly sure how to get around it. In the most simplistic terms my philosophy is not to dwell on the past, we can’t change it anyway, best to move on in as positive of manner as we can. As my wise old grandfather always used to say sometimes “nuff said”.
Did I mention we are back in Oregon? And Oregon means trees, lots of them. BG and I were in the trees for all but the briefest of periods today. Nice trees, big trees, healthy trees. Except for one small reprod area of 20 year old trees and a couple acre patch of bug kill, the forest was beautiful. A local couple was out day riding today, I passed them as I was coming into camp as they were going out. They came over to our camp when they got back and we shared beers and tall tales. Turns out he is a forester for the Rogue River National Forest, assigned to this neck of the woods. He was naming off the different species we could see from where we were sitting, he named so many so fast, no way could I keep up with all but the most obvious, Doug Fir, White Fir, Red Cedar, Hemlock, Ponderosa Pine and as he said about every kind of fir you’ve heard of.
A little more information on two items from yesterday, the snake was a little bugger, maybe 18 inches, but fast. I was off leading Mercedes and had stopped to let her grab a bite if trailside grass. The bank on the high side of the trail was about knee high and the snake jumped out from under a bush, streaked across the trail and hid under a little fir tree just a foot or two off the trail. I tried to take a picture but branches were obscuring my view, l looked around for a stick to move them, but thought better of that plan when he gave me the rattle. Some things are just better left alone.
Further down the trail we approached the I-5 crossing, for a short distance we were riding along one of those side hills where a misstep can result in a hundred foot fall. Only in this case instead of crashing into rocks or a tree we would land in the southbound lanes of I-5. Mercedes didn’t like those trucks rushing by one bit.
Rumor has it that we are about to run into more snow, soon. I hope to make it to the horse camp at Four Mile Lake. We should know more when we get that far.
Think warm thoughts, no snow, no snow…