Sunday, 26 December 2010

Trip to Washington and Oregon, Day 7

We were in Southern Oregon by now and it was time to start heading inland. By the way, the Southernmost part of the coast is every bit as gorgeous as the rest, but it is less crowded. We were on the way ere break of day. The funny light squiggle is the beam from the lighthouse.
Humbug Mountain seen from the North.

Just one more beach walk in the early morning light. Below is Humbug Mountain seen from Nesika beach to the South.

The waves were getting higher. We just missed a big storm that blew in the next day. Beach walks and storms go great together, but I would not have wanted to do the next stage in bad weather.
It was hard saying goodbye to the coast. I am very happy in my mountain paradise, but can any salt-blooded human resist the pull of the ocean?
Anyway, inland we went, from Gold Beach to Grants Pass. We had been in this region before but never on this particular road.
Even on the map the road looked daunting. Lots of crinkles, a fierce peak in the middle, and a warning that it is closed in winter. The stretch to Agness in the Rogue Valley was disappointing. All you could see was trees. Pretty trees, but hardly any views of the river. The map recommended inquiring locally about conditions.
As if that were not daunting enough there were signs just before Agness warning us about a road closure and a detour. The gentleman who ran the gas station and emporium in Agness was consulted. Oh yes, he knew all about it. The detour was easy to find and would take us around Bear Camp, whatever that was. The road was a gravel forest service road but the detour was no more than about 12, or was it 20? miles. He wouldn't recommend taking a big rig over that road, but a truck unit like ours should be OK.

Thus informed we struck out. The weather meanwhile had turned grey, with a flat ugly light, terrible for photography.
We found the detour signs. On we went, crawling at 15 or 20km an hour to avoid rattling the precious Thing to bits. The road climbed, and climbed, and climbed some more. There was hardly any traffic, and what we did see was sturdy vehicles ready to tackle the outback. That's just as well, since this was a one lane road in many places with sheer
Now if anyone can drive roads like this it is Chris. He has driven bus professionally. Certain seniors would book their trip to Nelson on days he drove because they felt safer with him. To top that he drives back roads for a hobby, places where two cars can only pass each other if one backs up to the nearest pullout, just like this road. So he was quite in his element.

The grinding miles passed by. At one point we passed a road crew and some signs, and there was much rejoicing. Surely the main road couldn't be far now? But no, we kept climbing, through howling wild wilderness. At least we saw that we were still on Burnt Ridge Road. It deserves its name.
It had definitely been more than 20 miles now. I kept panic at bay by trying to get a clear shot of an arbutus tree. In the gloomy light and the hostile-feeling mountains they were a gentle, friendly presence.

At one point we came to a large pullout where we could easily turn around. We stopped for a moment to rest and to argue. Where the H were we? Could we have taken a wrong turn somewhere? I had found the road signs confusing, but Chris claimed he knew the conventions of road signs (he does) and there had been no alternative. Besides, we were still going East, something I should be able to ascertain if I paid attention to the way the faint shadows grew on the moss of the trees, or something like that. My map reading skills were questioned. I retorted that one cannot read a road that does not appear on the map in question. I was in favor of going back, because that way at least we'd know where we where. Chris opted for going on and thank goodness we did. A few harrowing miles later we saw a stop sign. I have never been so glad to see a stop sign in my life. We had reached the main road. It was still a stressful drive over poor pavement and one-lane stretches, but at least we knew where we were! The Sasquatch-haunted Klamath Mountains are no place to get lost. Not that we live in fear of Sasquatch, but the fact that this is one region where sightings are frequent says something about how wild it is.
At last, signs of civilization: a large flat area by the Rogue River with a big information sign, full of warnings about the hazards of the road we had just come over. The original road, not the detour! It also showed the Burnt Ridge Road: a huge loop about as long as the original road, probably about 40 km. We would have been spared considerable stress if we had known how long the detour was.
Phew. We gratefully stopped for a rest. Chris had a much-needed nap while I climbed down to the river and took pictures, what else, including one of the arbutus trees on the slope above us. We call them Arbutus, some call them Madrone. Same graceful leafy evergreen with peeling red bark. In Canada they only live on the West coast.
There were some intriguing greenish rocks by the river.
Onwards! Refreshed by yogurt, pears and Earl Grey we braved the Medford metropolitan area where I salvaged my map-reading reputation by piloting us safely onto Route 140, direction Klamath Falls.

Past Medford the landscape got really pretty again. The vegetation is a lot like what we remembered from a trip through Northern California years ago. Those wonderful oaks. By now it was raining off and on.
We managed to find the forestry campsite that was on the map, just off route 140, before dark, and settled in for the night.


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