Up the Silvies River - Northwest passages: riding out the storm - CycleBlaze

April 8, 2020

Up the Silvies River

Status report

So I went back into the Blue Mountain Hospital today for my ten-day follow up.  The nurse unwrapped the wound in preparation for removing my stitches, frowned a bit, and then paged the doctor on duty this morning.  It doesn’t really look great to be honest, and I’ve been a bit anxious about what I’d learn this morning.

The doctor is reassuring and says it looks like it’s healing satisfactorily.  It looks ugly mostly because the body is preparing to shed some skin.  The surface is a dark ruddy brown, loose, with a texture a bit like cellophane.  Makes me feel like a snake.  She expects this outer layer will fall off in the next few days and leave an open wound that will need care for the next six to eight weeks.  I’m to treat it more or less like a burn wound: clean it with soap and water twice a day, cover it with Vaseline, and then wrap it to keep the moisture in.

She also says that exercise is fine, and important to strengthen my immune system.  So, all in all a good report.  It will just take a while before I’ll show you my new tattoo.

So, back to stitch removal.  I lift my leg up onto the nurse’s lap so she can get to them easily.  Several have gotten pretty well ingrown and don’t come free easily, so it takes awhile.  The last one is quite difficult, and after several tries she calls an assistant to bring a flashlight so that she can see better.  Then, suddenly, it’s out.

Ouch.

Sorry - you wouldn’t want to see the wound just yet. Maybe in another month. In the meantime though, isn’t this a sharp color for my leg wrap?
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Patrick O'HaraDaddy needs a new pair of socks or needs to trim his toenails.....:D
Glad you're doing well, Scott!
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3 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Patrick O'HaraOops. My socks always look like that. Darn it!
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3 months ago
Patrick O'HaraWe're not going there again are we? More puns? I actually feel like a heel mentioning the hole in your sock.
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3 months ago
Suzanne GibsonThanks for sparing us a picture of the wound! Enjoyed the hole in the sock, though!
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3 months ago

Today’s ride

Today we’re striking out in a new direction, driving south through the mountains to ride on the other side.  For over thirty years I’ve wanted to ride the minor mountain road that starts in Prineville and runs east for 120 miles to its junction with Highway 395.  33 years ago, just weeks after Rachael showed up in our office and we first met, I started out from Prineville along this road, planning a 250 mile loop to John Day and back to Prineville along Highway 26.  I don’t recall now if I was even carrying a tent.  Maybe I thought I was going to do it in two days and spend the night in John Day.  That seems likely because there is nothing large enough for lodging on the southern half of the loop.  This was just about a month after I got back from my ride from Cedar City to Flagstaff, and I was feeling strong and frisky.

Whatever my plan was though, it was an aborted tour.  I got about thirty miles into the ride - a few miles past Post - and turned back.  It was back in the days long before RideWithGPS would let me scope out the ride, and it was much hillier and rougher surfaced than I’d expected.  I’m sure if I’d known there was over 7,000’ of climbing in the 135 miles between Prineville and John Day I wouldn’t have planned on that as a day ride.  Also, I was surprised at how cold it was.  I forget just when this was - probably in October - but I was seeing frost on the ground already.  Good thing I turned back.  It could have been a pretty sad experience on such a long, lonely road.

Today though, it’s a different story.  We’re high up - the ride starts at 4,800’ and goes up from there - and there’s still a fair amount of snow on the ground toward the high end of the ride.  The weather is brilliant though, sunny and near 70.  Ideal weather, an ideal road.  As fine to ride on as Prairie Creek Road was.

We drive south from John Day along Canyon Creek, passing through Canyon City and then continue to climb to the summit of Starr Ridge, elevation 5,200’.  The final four miles are a winding 6% climb, and look unpleasant - the shoulder is still gravelly from the winter.  I don’t think we’ll be taking this ride.  We drop a bit down the other side and park the car at the junction with the road to Izee, and start biking west and up the Silvies River toward its source about fifteen miles away in the base of the Aldrich Mountains.  My leg feels fine, riding is no problem at all, but as always I lag well behind Rachael to stop and check out every bluebird, hawk, flicker and stand of birches along the way.  I get my thirty miles in, she gets her 42, we’re both happy.  A perfect day.

Eastbound, upriver toward the source of the Silvies River. This road, route 62, goes by multiple names: Izee-Paulina Lane, Izee Road to Bush Road, to name just two. Perhaps there are others.
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The beginning of this road crosses a broad, fen-like flat at a large bend in the Silvies River. It looks like it would be a great birding area once it warms up a bit.
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Beyond the flats we climb a bit and enter Ponderosa forest. The road will continue on like this for miles, alternating between open pasture land and ponderosa forest.
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It’s a high elevation road. We started at 4,800’ and will top out at 5,400’. Residual snow becomes more prevalent as we climb, but we’re at the tail end of the season. If we come back in two weeks I expect it will all have melted off.
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I don’t think you could confuse a male mountain bluebird with any other species.
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Crossing another open expanse, we get a view of the southern flank of the Aldrich Mountains. There’s much less snow on this side than we saw on its northern side from the John Day Valley. We also have a noteworthy view of the Strawberry Mountains from here, but you’ll have to wait until the return half of the ride. Be patient, and don’t peek ahead.
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Between the high elevation and its remoteness, this is very empty country. We do pass a few ranches along the way though.
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Jen GrumbyA reflecting ungulate!
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3 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyA reflecting, genuflecting ungulate!
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3 months ago
Some sort of ground squirrel - Columbian, I think. We see dozens of them skittering across the plain today, dashing to their mounds as we approach. If they’re Colombians, they probably just woke up - they sleep for seven months out of the year.
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Nothing is blooming yet this high up, but there’s still plenty of color to be seen.
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This bird flushed up from the trees just up the road from me and then sped off, alighting on a perch a hundred yards or more away. It’s a shame he didn’t land just a bit closer. Coopers Hawk?
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Nearing the source of the Silvies River. Given it’s this slight even during snowmelt, I wonder if it runs dry in the summer.
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The terrain becomes a bit more rugged as we approach the divide at the head of the river.
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Along the Silvies River. We see these by the billion elsewhere, crapping up our bike paths. Seeing one or two up here in a mountain marsh though is still somehow thrilling.
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We’re up above 5,000’ here, as the Silvies River passes through another flat meadow and alternates between rivulets and small pools.
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Near the divide, the snow almost covers the ground in spots. Something big passed this way not long ago.
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Any paw print experts out there? Bear?
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As you can imagine, Rachael has gotten ahead of me - well ahead. She’s made it across the divide and started the steep descent to Izee before turning back. Note that she’s not wearing her jacket even though we’re 5,400’ up. An incredible day.
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Westbound again, with the car about fifteen miles off. It’s a relaxing, very modest descent most of the way. In spite of all the snow still around it’s surprisingly warm and comfortable.
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Along the upper Silvies.
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Really a wonderful cycling road, as appealing as Prairie Summit.
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Video sound track: Sonho, by Nando Lauria

Caught in the act! Rodriguez and the Straggler thought they’d enjoy a nice mountain tryst while we looked the other way, but we’re wise to them.
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Here’s the view I teased you about earlier. For about five miles we bike down this arrow-straight stretch of road, the Strawberry Mountains dead ahead.
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Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyYup. Wow is right. I purposely lagged far back from Rachael at this point so I could zoom in.
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3 months ago
Where’s Rachael?
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Jen GrumbyJust ahead of the 2nd small tree on the right.
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3 months ago
Ron SuchanekRight behind you.
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3 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Ron SuchanekSorry, Ron. You should pay more attention to your better half.
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3 months ago
I know. That was too easy. How about now though? And how about those mountains? We can see the complete range from here.
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Jen GrumbyCan't find her in this one. Is she behind you?
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3 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyI wouldn’t trick you like that. Zoom way in, right where the road disappears.
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3 months ago
Just a ranch scene, nothing special.
Heart 3 Comment 1
Jen GrumbyWhat?!

This scene is oozing specialness.
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3 months ago
A white horse.
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Rate this entry's writing Heart 8
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Jen GrumbyNice videos today! What a great ride.

A virtual gold star for capturing the flicker song. ⭐

Sorry to hear about the leg healing timeframe. Will you be going in weekly or so to have the doc look at it? Great that you can still get out and ride while the wound does its thing. Snake Man!
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3 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyThanks for the concern, Jen. The leg is doing just fine. It just takes some time to grow a new skin. I don’t need to go back in again unless something unexpected happens, such as my foot falling off my leg. Surprisingly it’s not at all painful, even when I wash it with soap and water.
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3 months ago