Mt. McLoughlin Bike’n’hike: Team Backpack’s Maiden Voyage, Part I
December 8, 2010 by alexnberra
Like Peanut butter and Jelly, Coffee and Oatmeal, the Moon and the Stars, there is in my life the wonderful combo of Sweet Melissa and the Team Backpack. Shown here ready for some major Lewis and Clarkin' to Mt. McLoughlin.
(Note, due to a hiatus from the blog some of the postings recount adventures from the end of fall up to now. That should explain some of the nice looking weather and lack of snow on mountains in the shots.)
Part II of this story can be found by clicking here
Part III of this story can be found by clicking here
Each fall I do my best to take harvest. Southern Oregon fall is full of apples, pears, grapes, figs, berries, and sunsets, all ripening to a succulent crescendo before the slaughter of winter and daylight savings time. The fall harvest for me is a time when my body and mind are in form from summer’s many adventures.
Last year the harvest celebration culminated with a Dolomiti inspired Maratona d’les Siskiyous. (click on the colorful words to take you to that post)
You might remember my foreshadowing to a Mt. McLoughlin mission in a picture caption from this post on one of this fall’s top mountain bike rides.
Mt. McLoughlin is a mountain that captured my eye since the first time I saw Her a few years ago. She could easily be touted as the “Mt. Fuji” of Southern Oregon. In addition to her striking physique she tops out at 9,495 feet, that’s 9,500 feet to me at eye level.
In the course of my ridings etc. I’ve summited some peaks, but Mt. McLoughlin always stood there, looking, watching, waiting, and this fall I knew it was time. And I also knew it would need to be a fully human powered mission. The likes of which I have not heard of being done before by anyone in the Rogue Valley. If you know of someone else who has, please let me know.
The red backpack, known as the “Team Backpack”, is part of my Pirate’s Booty earned from our team’s effort at The Siskiyou Challenge.
Check Back soon for Part II for summit views and sunset hues.
Cresting the summit of Dead Indian Memorial Road is the gateway to the eastern side of the Siskiyou Range. A ten mile hill to climb on Sweet Melissa, at the top of which I'll get my first glimpse of Mt. McLouhglin. The late fall day started clear and blue. And with a late morning start I would need every hour of it.
Looking back down to Ashland, from the lower part of the climb up Dead Indian Memorial Road. A beautiful, sunny piece of road any time of the year.
Follow the yellow lined road.
I've been on this stretch in every month of the year, alone, with others, happy or sad, and it always feels different, especially today with Sweet Melissa between my legs and the Team Backpack on my shoulders, and plenty of adventure ahead of me.
After the passing over the top of Dead Indian Memorial and descending down to the high prairie the first solid view of Mt. McLoughlin opens up. There she stands, a beacon, my goal, seducing me, within a few hours I'll be on Her summit, breathing hard, smiling, yelling wildly at the top of my lungs, to the silence that so nurtures my world.
20 miles into my journey and the first good omen appears. For me, whenever I'm out and about seeing a Porsche is a good luck sign.
And just minutes later another good omen, Red Tail came flying along to inspire me with His glide, thanks Grandpas! Hard to spot in this pick but if you click on the image you can find the Him up in the sky.
A left turn onto Fish Lake Road takes me on a beautiful stretch of road north, and I get my last good glimpse of Her. After this the closer I get the less I see of Her. In fact, from this point I have another 20 miles to ride, and a good bit of uphill to hike/run before I'm on the open ridge that will take me the final miles to the summit
More German engineered good omenage!
I came upon this monster-sized hunk of re-tread on my way east on Highway 140. I ran out and tossed it off to the side, figuring the good deed would be good for my roadside karma bank. Just think, maybe moving this piece of retread will, or had already, saved my life. The whole chunk probably weighed twice as much as my entire bike.
More than 40 miles of pavement ridden and now the road turns to gravel for the last five miles to the trail. Sweet Melissa was happy to get her fat tires on some rough road as we gradually climbed to the base of Mt. McLoughlin.
Where the road ends the trail begins. And one of the forest service bomb shelter/out houses at the ready. Take note there are no cars in the parking lot here. Yep, the whole trail, the whole mountain, the whole forest, just me and my breathing and the rest of the natural world doing the same.
Apparently, this is what I need to know. Imagine what it would sound like if Keanu Reeves read this sign, in his character from movie 'Point Break', "Most Difficult!"
Judging from this map I can see why people tend to get lost: According to this map there are only 6 trees on Mt. McLoughlin, so already, looking at the dense forest around me I feel I'm not where this map says I am. I think it would make much more sense for this map to be just before the section of trail where people tend to stray of course, you know, kind of like putting a stop sign exactly where you want people to stop and not 3 miles before the actual spot of stopping.
At the start of the trail you sign in, and when you're done you sign out, it's an old school safety system that makes a lot of sense and is simple to use, assuming a ranger checks it every other day or so.
The parking lot was true, and the log shows it, for the day I'm the only one to sign in. I guess Mt. McLoughlin and I really did need some good one-on-one time for our first date after so many years of just looking at each other from afar.
The Team Backpack is a "Mary Poppins" adventure bag, amazing how much can fit in one small nylon sac. Trade the dancing shoes for running shoes, and it's time to get the elevation going up.