The Breitenbush and Clackamas Watershed Ride, pt.1
Note: I will respond to questions/comments regarding part 1 on this thread. Questions/comments regarding part 2 will be responded to only in part 2. This is merely a 'house keeping' necessity so others do not get confused.
Yesterday, Friday 04 November 2016, was an oasis of semi-clear weather in the Pacific Northwest. Though it had been foggy in the morning, it turned out with blue sky and white fluffy clouds. October set all time rainfall records in Oregon; several cities & towns set their own high rainfall records for October as well. September was reasonably dry…I should have gone on more rides! The forecast for the next week is rain, and it is raining heavily today, Saturday. Thus, I seized my chance to go for a last minute ride; I cleared the balance of my day, and was gassed up by 12:40p.m.
I headed east, on Oregon Highway 22, shortly after leaving the Capital city of Salem, the highway begins to mirror the course of the North Santiam River. Locals refer this as, “…Going up the Canyon….” Fifteen miles up the, the landscape gets intimate, the opposing walls of the canyon become decidedly closer. The coniferous Douglas fir, spruce, hemlock, cedar, as well as the deciduous white oak, ash red alder and big leaf maples come up to the margins along the tarmac. As I progress east and gain in elevation, the brilliant deciduous tree exponentially lose their leave, leaving ghost-y grey silhouettes.
Traffic going my way is moderate to light the further east I go. Though ‘just’ a two-lane thoroughfare, the 636 dispatches any traffic as little more than moving chicanes. The North Fork Santiam River is running low. I get up above the dual dams operated by the Corp of Engineers named Big Cliff and Detroit Dams, respectively. Holy cramp, there is virtually no water in the reservoirs [picture #1]. The waterline is maybe twenty feet lower than average [picture #2, 10,495-ft Mt Jefferson is in the background]. Preserved tree stumps litter the near dried up “shore”; what was once lake bottom are wild grasses [picture #3, ZX-6R 636 in foreground]. So much for those who think ‘Climate Change’ is a Liberal hoax, what I witnessed is factual, not ignorant Luddite B.S.
At the wee mountain community of Detroit, Oregon (el. 1,595), I hung a left at the gas station (last chance to top-off for a while) that’s just across the bridge over the Breitenbush River - it was much lower than usual, too. This road is properly designated as Forest Service road 46. The first four or five miles are modestly flat-ish, but a satisfyingly serpentine affair [picture #4].
There always seems to be a certain corner which delineates ‘good roads’, this one is a right-left-right-left complex at ≈ 122°05’ longitude X 44°48’ latitude. This serves notice that the fun is full on, and you better have taken your vitamins this morning; the elevation starts to climb conspicuously. A little further on, on the right is a short road leading to Breitenbush Hot Springs (el. 2,280), but visitors must hike about 1.5 miles from the parking lot.
And yet, there is one signature 180° tight ascending hairpin turn that scrubs its fair share of motorbikes and autos off into the bushes. The entry is deceiving because it does not give any clue as to the steep climb just at/after the apex as one is leant over a fair amount [picture #5]. That’s why there’s a staccato of black and yellow arrow signs (left if you are going uphill/right if going downhill) that attempts to warn those lacking skill/temerity/and better that average eye-hand coordination. Shortly thereafter, one ascends to the divide. There is no guessing, because ever since passing under Interstate 5 in Salem, one has been steadily gaining elevation, now everything starts to poignantly descend. Sure, there have been various ups and downs in topography, but even the vegetation alters slightly. Now one is coursing downhill, shadowing the upper Clackamas River. It starts out as little more than a tiny mountain creek from 6,000-ft Olallie Butte, falling 4,909 feet before finally joining the Willamette River, 83-miles downriver at Oregon City (el. 12-ft).
Due to file limitations of five photos I broken this story into two sections. Please join me/us on part 2.
Cheers to all