May 5, 2007–Summary
Weather: Overcast and windy 65-70°
Miles: 45, major hills 3 (Bean Blossom, Bryants Creek, Firehouse)
Nature Sightings: Yellow Lady Slipper, Wild Geranium, Scarlet Tananger, wind from the east
Today it looked like rain, but hey, no problem, we felt a few drops, but no rain. We decided to try riding SR 45 all the way to Tunnel Road, and we thought we might not have any crazy drivers, but we did, though it was the opposite of what we expected. At least 5 times cars piled up behind us even though we rode single file, they just would not go around till we pulled over in a drive way. I guess this is better than the one guy who just had to pass us by swinging totally into the other lane with oncoming traffic. I think turning on Mt. Gilead is the better option, it is about a mile longer, and has a steep climb, but it is much safer and much more scenic.
We rode down Tunnel to Shilo, and then road Shilo to Anderson, stopping at wirelessdeerfence.com on the way. We stopped on the bridge over the Bean Blossom, noted the low water level and saw some portion of a vehicle stuck in the mud bottom.
We turned right (east) on Anderson, passed the gravel road (Farr) into the Morgan MonroeForest, then came to Bean Blossom, which runs a valley and then climbs the ridge to Forest Rd. Though a bit of a climb, it is shady, and it is really well paved, with wild geraniums by the roadside. I pulled out my flower book and identified wild geraniums growing along the roadside in the valley. Just about half way up the hill Jojo spotted a yellow flower down the hillside. We stopped and looked closer, and it was the beautiful and rare yellow ladyslipper (Cypripedium calceolus), one of the few northern orchids, which can live up to 40 years. I took some pics, and we continued up the hill, there was a pull over spot and Jojo’s keen eyes saw a red bird with black wings land in a tree nearby. I got a good look at it as it flew to another branch, and said “It’s a scarlet tananger.” I’d never seen one, so I pulled out my bird book, and sure enough it was a male tananger. I got a distant shot, you can just see the color and pattern.
Turning left (west) on Forest Road, what a beautiful stretch it is riding the high ridge towards old 37, the cool east wind behind us. The road had pull-offs, we stopped at one to ponder the wired fence posts. At 37 we south back to Boomington, first down into Bryant’s Creek valley, then back up to the ridge, almost no traffic, past the orchard and church at Hindustan.
The road then drops back into the Bean Blossom bottoms, which is mostly grazing country; we saw these sheep, plus pigs, cattle, and buzzards overhead. We crested firehouse hill, below is a picture of a biker’s favorite sight, Fire Station #5.