The weather has contrived the last three weekends to push me out the door and onto my bike. I've been riding up to the end of Deadwood Creek Road and then splitting either left or right. It probably ends up around 16 miles round trip, depending on how far up I go. Both roads go on indefinitely; Hwy 25 (left) goes over to Alsea and a turn to the right gets you lost up high on logging roads.
The ride doesn't begin with such wildness. The first mile and a half, through Sidell Flats and past the community center, is quite pastoral. It is a mix of pasturage, young orchard and yard that stays open and unwooded until the big hill at the head of the flats.
Once up the hill, the road clings to the steep side well up and above the creek. The flats down below have been allowed to return to forest. Never having been commercially planted, they are a lovely mix of big leaf maple, fir, cedar and hemlock. The cut-away face on the left drips spring water, ferns and moss. Don't get too distracted; it's a hundred foot fall to the creek below!
The view opens up (and the pavement ends) at Alpha farm (MP 7), the traditional commune that has been part of Deadwood since 1971. There are thirty-odd people living there at any given time, so the collection of cars, building and people is always worth checking out. In recent years, their garden has taken off so it's nice to take look at it and see what's doing - who's working and what's growing. A short while later is another farm, Rock Creek. (MP 8) Unlike the relatively compact Alpha, Rock Creek is stretched out over a mile of creek bottom. They have a small vegetable garden but mostly it's pasturage for cows, goats and horses. The view isn't great because, again, the road is far up above, but somehow it still feels open.
It's one more mile to the T.
Go right and you'll cross the Wedding Bridge, pass the biggest chestnut in Deadwood and get to see Jesse's giant anti-bear bee platform. Quickly, the end of county maintenance comes and the road begins to ascend into the mountains. When I rode this way two weeks ago, the big leaf maples had carpeted the road in six inches of giant webbed leaves. I was the only traveler to disturb them and left an almost imperceptible track in my wake. When I was this way two weeks ago, I was treated to a remarkably tame and unconcerned baby bobcat. The size of a small housecat, it let me watch and follow it from a distance of ten feet or so. Finally, it got bored and ran up the hill and disappeared.
Go left and you'll pass a few scattered houses before coming to pavement again. This is Hwy 25, which passes up and over the mountains to the Alsea Valley. Yesterday, I rode up about three turns to a little swatch of clearcut private land. I sat up on the slash pile, ate my sandwich and and looked out over the valley. Twilight rolled in and the moon rolled up from the East. As I left, I noticed three long, black piles of cougar scat. Nothing unusual, but it was a bit unnerving as I rode off into the gathering dark.
The ride home is fast, fast, fast. The long, steady climb of the way up is replaced by a long, steady descent and before you know it...you're home.