It rained all night last night. I heard the shush of it in my sleep, and when I woke up, still in the deep of night, I found it wasn’t a dream, but reality. I got up and went to the window. Outside I could see a chimney silhouetted in the silvery light. To my surprise, I saw what I first thought was a bird. That was weird, I thought. How could there be birds out at night in the cold pouring rain? I saw a few more shapes flitting. Then more. Then I realized I was seeing those little bats! They were circling and flying up and around the chimney! It was one of the most surreal things I have ever seen.
I thought today would be filled with rain, but I was wrong. I woke up in the morning to cool sunshine, and after breakfast, we got on the bikes once again. First, we thought we’d explore a small road that we have been seeing during the several times we’d either ridden or driven past it. It was narrow and rocky, and we kept going up. Then the road flattened out, dipped down into a streambed, and then we went up again, then finally came to a dead end. There were several boxes up there that held measuring devices, and when we looked closer, there was a series of concrete dams and water control channels. It was called Thomas Creek Weir, No. 2. So, having satisfied our curiosity about what was up on the little road, we turned around and headed back to the 191.
We rode south again, back to FR25. The plan was to explore all the roads that turned off 25, the ones with “25” and then a letter of the alphabet. So, we started with 25B. It was an interesting road with many changes. At first, it was rocky and climbed up through areas ruined by the Wallow fire, where logging had taken place. Then, we dropped into forest that had been untouched, and the road went up and down for a while. Finally, it descended, grew very lush, and became narrower and narrower. We were in faded doubletrack, and at last, the road dead-ended. Honestly, I was disappointed that after 11 miles and an hour of riding (with stops), it all came down to a dead end! There was nothing else but to turn back and ride out the same way we came in. It didn’t take as long to go out, and soon we found ourselves back on FR25.
We went down a few miles and got on 25C. It was the road to Reno Lookout, and it was only ½ mile. We got there quickly, and parked the bikes. There was no one else around, but the sign said guests could climb up, although no one was liable if said “guests” were stupid. I am paraphrasing the sign, of course, but that’s the gist of it. So, up we went on the metal steps.
Me up on top:
I could not look down as I am a little afraid of heights if I am just climbing on my own without a bike under me. But, once I got up on top, the view was worth it. We could see for miles, and not too far away we could see a rainstorm moving in sheets across the forest.
Rainstorm from on top of the lookout:
I wondered if Reno Lookout was where the Wallow fire had first been seen. Soon, we climbed down and got back on the bikes.
Next in the progression was 25C. We dropped into that road and found it alternately rocky and smooth, and it too descended into lush forest. Hal stopped me about 3 miles into it. He said he saw a small bear running away from the road! I never saw it, but that just freaked me out because it brought to mind my two main concerns, which are that neither of us regularly carry any firearms with which to defend ourselves against animal attacks, nor do we have any way of contacting emergency services if there is no cell phone service. I would also like to carry a GPS unit so we have some idea where we are! We carry maps, but often the roads are not marked, and is there no way of knowing where we are in relation to main roads or a way to get out quickly if necessary. I think it’s time for me to either acquire the necessary equipment, or research what is needed. If we are going to be in the backcountry, we should be better prepared. We have the very basics, like food and water, but that’s it.
We turned around and started out of 25C. The sky was becoming dark, and we were pushing the limit of being out in the afternoon. We learned yesterday that we need to be back at the lodge by around 3 p.m. because that is the time the thunderstorms usually move in. As we climbed out of 25C, the sky was very black.
Let’s get outta here!:
Nevertheless, we turned off the main 25 yet again at Gobbler Point Rd., a road with 4-digit designation. When a forest road is a four-digit designation, that usually means it is pretty rough, but we figured it didn’t go back very far and maybe “Gobbler Point” had a spectacular view. Another three miles in, though, it didn’t seem to be getting any closer to a vista point, and the sky was really getting dark. So, we turned around and headed out.
As we hit main 25, it started to rain just a little. I was in front for some reason, and I got on the throttle. I thought, well, we are the repellers, we never seem to get into any rain lately, but even as I thought it, the rain started to come down harder. Within a couple of miles, it was raining fairly hard, and I pulled over and asked Hal if he wanted to put on rain gear. Sometimes it’s better to just keep going and get out of the rainstorm than to stop and put gear on while it’s pouring. In the past, we’ve gotten twice as wet as necessary only to find out that if we’d just kept going, it was dry up ahead. We elected to put the gear on this time, and it was a good decision. Soon the rain was falling in epic sheets, and the next thing I knew I was being pelted with pea-sized hail!
I could barely see, it was so dark and I still had my sunglasses on, the visor on my dual sport helmet was fogging up, and the rain and hail were slashing down hard. Lightning was flashing nearby, and thunder rolled loudly almost immediately after the flashes. Hal’s words echoed in my ears, Go go go! I counted down the mile markers, knowing that “zero” was Hwy. 191, then it was going to be a few miles to the lodge. As we hit the 191, the hail stopped, but the rain did not let up. The highway itself was steaming, the asphalt must have been warm when the cold rain hit it. We rode through what looked like mist, and the rain kept coming down.
I was getting cold at this point because I only had a raincoat on. I had not brought rain pants, which was stupid, because now I was sitting on a wet seat, and I could feel the water going into my boots, too. They squished when I moved my toes. It is the worst feeling in the world. My hands were soaked, and cold. My gloves had gotten wet while I put the raincoat on. It was a miserable four miles to the lodge, and when we rode the last mile, the rain slacked off into a drizzle. We pulled in and parked the bikes. I was dripping wet.
I took off my helmet and I sort of limped and squelched to the porch of the lodge, where people were sitting all warm and dry, watching the spectacle of the silly dirt riders who didn’t know enough to come in out of the rain in time. Needless to say, all my wet clothes came off as soon as possible and I got into dry clothes to get warm. I don’t know how I am going to get my boots dry before I ride tomorrow!
But, tomorrow is another day, and it is our last here. I want to make the most of it, so tonight Hal and I will be checking the maps and planning our ride to get the most enjoyment out of it.
Maybe we can manage to stay dry this time!