Lewisburg Saddle - Northwest passages: riding out the storm - CycleBlaze

June 29, 2020

Lewisburg Saddle

We’ve got two days left in Corvallis, and two rides remaining in our in inventory: a fifty mile loop from Crabtree to Berlin and Lebanon, and a fifty mile out and back from Brownsville to see a pair of covered bridges east of Mercola.  We spend some time this morning discussing which one to ride today, and end up choosing neither of them because we don’t really feel like hopping in the car and driving thirty miles to get to the start.  Instead, I propose that we just begin from home and ride the loop I had been planning on yesterday before getting diverted by Chip Ross Park.  Rachael likes this plan, and volunteers to load the route to our Garmins while I head off to breakfast and to complete yesterday’s post.

We’ve had a few hot and a few wet days in our stay here, but for the most part we’ve really been lucky with the weather this month.  Today looks like another lovely day to ride: partly sunny, just a bit windy, not too hot.  It’s still on the cool side when we leave home at 10.  

We start out westbound for a change, following the route of Rachael’s hike to Bald Hill yesterday.  It nagged at me to have Rachael come back and tell of a covered bridge she passed on the way, one I hadn’t known existed.  In fact, it influenced thinking on deciding where to bike today - why drive east to Brownsville for a covered bridge ride when there’s one so close to home I haven’t seen yet?

The short Irish Bend covered bridge stands on the OSU campus, spanning Oak Creek as part of the Multi-use Campus Way Path.  It has the unusual distinction of having been placed on the National Register of Historic Places twice.  Built in 1954, it originally spanned Willamette Slough at the end of Irish Bend Road about fifteen miles south of town, and was placed on the register there.   It fell into disuse when culverts were installed and the road rerouted, and was finally dismantled in 1988 and removed from the register.

Like Lazarus though it rose from the dead, reappeared on the OSU campus after an intervention by Benton County and OSU, and was listed for the second time in 2013.  A miracle!

The Irish Bend covered bridge spans Oak Creek on the OSU campus.
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Look at those cool shades! Joe Alpaca. He’d look great on a cigarette carton.
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Approaching Bald Hill, the destination for Rachael’s hike yesterday.
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Andrea BrownThat forest on the right is full of acorn woodpeckers, or used to be.
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2 weeks ago

We would never have picked this way out of town if it weren’t for my wish to see the bridge, because it adds about eight miles by looping the west end of town and then doubling back along Walnut Boulevard.  Now that we’ve done it though, we’d do it again when we can afford the extra distance because it’s a very pretty ride.

Ten miles into the ride we intersect Highland Drive and turn north, picking up the route I had mapped out for yesterday.

Along Walnut Boulevard. This one was easier to get a good look at than that one lying in the weeds back on Smith Loop.
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Northbound on Highland Drive, dropping into Crescent Valley.
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Looking northwest across Crescent Valley toward our path ahead: Lewisburg Saddle, that slight gap in the ridge.
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Lewisburg Saddle is a bit of a climb.  Six hundred feet in about two miles, it’s enough to get our attention.  We haven’t done much climbing this month and were a bit hesitant to be honest, but it really isn’t bad at all. It’s a very pleasant climb, shaded the whole way and lightly trafficked.  Once over the top we enjoy an equivalent descent down the north side of the saddle, dropping into the idyllic glen formed by Soap Creek.  Virtually car-free, this is a beautiful ride I’d be glad to repeat often if we lived down here.

One of the unexpected delights of this ride is coming upon the beautiful red Soap Creek Schoolhouse, perhaps the prettiest and best maintained of these old relics of the past that I remember seeing.

On the ascent to Lewisburg Saddle.
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Descending from Lewisburg Saddle on Soap Creek Road.
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Rachael’s out about a hundred yards in front of me when she encounters these two in the road. It’s funny - we didn’t see a single deer in our stay here until just a few days ago.
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Soap Creek Schoolhouse, built during our first Great Depression, is a beautiful relic of a simpler age.
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In idyllic Soap Creek Valley. It’s hard to believe that this serene, remote spot is only a few miles from one of the largest cities in Oregon.
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Soap Creek Road ends at its intersection with Tampico Road.  The rest of the day’s route follows roads we’ve ridden previously this month.  Nothing new, but still beautiful - especially Tampico Road and Aerlie Road, which I could happily ride over and over again.  It’s especially pretty today, with beautiful skies and the gorgeous phacelia acreage still in bloom.  If anything, it’s an even more intense blue now than it was a week ago. 

We stop alongside Aerlie Road on a grassy lawn in the shade of some conifers and enjoy our picnic lunch - salami and Swiss today! - and then continue on.  The next twenty miles are very familiar territory - down the Corvallis-Independence Highway, west on Pettigrove, and back to town through Central Valley again.  No real reason to stop, except for the usual unusual.  A great day, that leaves me feeling a bit rueful about ending our stay here already.

Looking west from Tampico Road.
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Looking east from Tampico Road.
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The phacelia is still in bloom! I can’t believe I’d forgotten about this already.
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Bee hives and phacelia, Aerlie Road.
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Video sound track: Nighthawk, by Laurence Juber

We’ve decided to leave the Bird on the Wire event open for late entries. Eight!
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On Pettigrove Lane. Nine!
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On familiar Pettigrove Road, one last time for now.
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Does this count? Ten, sorta.
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Bill ShaneyfeltEerily perched there, a dark silhouette just looking for something to vult?

Well, it is not quite on the wire, but it is a bird, and there is a wire, and with the right perspective it "could" be made to appear as though it might be on the wire. so I'd vote yes.
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2 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Bill ShaneyfeltIt is eerie, isn’t it? You can even see through his nares. Thanks for the vote, good enough for me.
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2 weeks ago
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Ride stats today: Scott: 46 miles, 2,400’; Rachael, 48 miles

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