It was a fine cool spring day as we rode east to SR 446, and headed south to Lake Monroe and the causeway. The water was still quite high, the geese seem to love it, they must be nesting there. The middle of the causeway is about 10 miles from the center of town, and so we climbed the hill and put on another 4 miles to get to our destination of Tower Ridge Rd before stopping. We’ve been looking for the quiet forest roads since realizing that gravel roads are not so bad, if you just slow down and accept the bumping.
Recent research has shown such small bouncing strengthens bones, they don’t know why, but it makes sense that your body is responding to the small repeated stresses. When going down steep gravel hills, I can put my feet down for balance, and it feels like the old electric foot massagers; knowing it is good for the bones, and fun too, makes is a blast.
We rode past the horseman’s camp, along the spines of the steep ridges, heading towards the fire tower. After our ride from town and four miles into the forest, we stopped at the Grubb Ridge Trailhead to each lunch. I found my first Jack-in-the-Pulpit right next to the log we were sitting on, and we listened to the birds. We thought we could walk our bikes along a trail to the fire tower, then ride back, so we headed out on the wide horse/hiking path. We figured if we were not riding our bikes, we would not be hurting the path, especially when compared to a horse.
But less than a quarter of a mile, we ran into a backpacker on a bike! He was riding out after camping out deeper in the forest. In the mile or so we hiked, we ran into 7 campers with full packs, and 4 of them were on bikes!
I’ve since found out that wheeled vehicles are banned from Wilderness areas. Horses and hikers are allowed, but no bikes. I guess this has to do with historical use, rather than pounds per square inch exerted on the paths. We also noticed that bikers rarely poop on the path, but the horses do!
After coming down from the ridge about 75 feet, we realized we were on the wrong path and headed to the peninsula where people camp rather than the fire tower. So we turned around and backtracked to the trailhead, and headed towards SR 446 on Tower Ridge Rd. We stopped for a few minutes at the lake across from the horse camp and watched a hawk and heard his mate calling from the nest, so we named it Two Hawks Lake.
The ride back we took it easy, but we both still had some legs after climbing out of the Salt Creek valley, it is about a 165 foot climb, and it curves back and forth. Cars accelerating up the hill don’t always see you till the last second, usually as we are traveling in the canyon-like upper half of the climb, where the shoulder is minimal. As usual we rode on old Knight’s Ridge Road, rather than 446 itself, which a bit shorter, but much noisier and nastier.
The whole ride was about 19 miles to Grubb Ridge from downtown, and about a mile hike/bike into the forest made a 40 mile ride, with about 20% on gravel or forest path. Flowers, butterflies and birds where everywhere, the cool ridgetop air carried the varied smells of the earth awaken under our feet, it does not get much better than this.