(Written by Dave)
As you’ve probably noticed, we got yesterday’s post out the following morning – we managed to get on the Wi-Fi when it was less full, over brekkie in the lodge. The lodge food was a below average buffet made only just acceptable because they gave us both the over 55 price. Naturally, I won’t be discussing my wife’s age in this public forum but suffice it to say that said discount was forthcoming without any request to validate IDs. I was not insulted (heck a discount is a discount). Nancy on the other hand weighed discount vs validation quite heavily – discount won out in the end.
We had a short, mostly downhill, day planned so we had plenty of time to tidy our studio before departure – all dishes cleaned and stacked as requested. We also managed to get in a walk along the shores of Diamond Lake. It didn’t smell smoky this morning but you’d be hard pressed to call it clear. There were some high clouds to the west and a general haze everywhere. We managed to finally hit the road about 10AM.
We learned from the resort front desk that the west side of Crater Lake road was still closed due to the fires. This meant that we were not going to get to ride up to and around the Lake today. If it weren’t for Jan and Kathie driving us up here tomorrow, this would have been a huge disappointment. But this way it really worked out a lot better. We get to see the lake and not have to climb the 2,000 feet up to it hacking from all the smoke. Several folks have recommended the full ride around the lake but that will have to wait until our next trip.
We rode along Diamond Lake drive for the first 5k or so. There were a few small uphill sections and we both felt yesterday’s climbs in our legs. We would end up climbing a measly 700 feet in total today – which was well more than enough. Soon after we joined up with Highway 230 and stopped at the Mt Thielsen view point. Mt Thielsen is a dramatically pointed mountain spire formed over time as erosion took away all but the inner magma core of an aged volcano. We got some nice photos of the peak – perhaps made better by all the smoke.
A little after the Mt Thielsen viewpoint and after one more small climb, we came upon a summit sign. This is clearly not an important summit as it actually had no name, other than summit. None the less, we still stopped for photos. And of course, there was no complaining as we blasted the next 12k downhill cruising at over 50kph the entire time. I’m not sure that this made up for yesterday’s uphill slog but it was a great downhill – almost traffic free with a wide shoulder until the bottom.
We stopped for sandwiches at the bottom in a grove of large trees near Muir Creek. This was one of many creeks that joined into a rapidly expanding Rouge River. The trees are quite large and there is a good variety. I’m sure that there are some redwood, some cedar, some fir and some pine – we’ll try finding a sign or something over the next few days to verify what we are seeing.
The last part of the ride involved lots of riding along the Rogue River. Much like yesterday and the Umpqua River, views were quite spectacular. We stopped at a couple viewpoints to check out the river and also to make the downhill last a bit longer. It was nice to have such a short day – and to have excess time on our hands.
We arrived at Union Creek about 1PM, and managed to upgrade our two rooms into a single cabin. At least with the cabin, we can spend more time relaxing with Kathie and Jan when they arrive. We are still going to have to change cabins tomorrow night as they were not able to get us into the same cabin each day.
They had a sign in reception about “buying huckleberries” – which we found odd. Well, it turns out that we are hitting the beginning of huckleberry season and the lodge is famous for their huckleberry pies. There is little to no commercial huckleberry harvesting so the lodge gets their supply from locals willing to head out into the woods and pick berries. I later bumped into a woman dropping off her berries. She had 17 pounds, her 12 year old daughter had 21. The woman works normally at McDonalds but takes 9 paid holidays every year to hit the huckleberry harvest. I didn’t ask her how long her haul took to pick but they get paid 8 dollars per pound for the berries. She was quite pleased to have such a haul all while getting vacation pay from McDonalds. She said her dog (barking in the car) protects her and her daughter from elk, bear and coyote – I guess they like the ripe berries as well.
The resort owns a small dinner, Beckie’s, across the street from the main lodge. They are famous for their pies and in particular, for their huckleberry pies – they only use locally in season sourced huckleberries. This could have been a bummer for us as they are not going to start making them to sell this year until Friday, after we’d left. Sensing my disappointment the chap at reception offered to sell me one of this season “test” pies that they will be making tomorrow, Thursday – I didn’t have to think about that one too long. The only thing is that I’m supposed to be keeping the secret pie, well, secret – so please keep it quiet until after Friday, okay?!
Jan and Kathie will be here within the next hour or so. We are off the bikes tomorrow for a car ride to Crater Lake with them. We learned a lot about Mt Mazama and Crater Lake today but I’ll save that for tomorrow’s post. The day after tomorrow we’ll ride (with bellies full of huckleberry pie) to Ashland and few days off there. Jan and Kathie will be taking some of our bags in the car – woohoo – a faster ride for us!