Day 1: North to the Smith River - South Oregon Coast and Coast Range 2008 - CycleBlaze

July 5, 2008

Day 1: North to the Smith River

It was past 10AM by the time I got away from the house. Trying to leave a tidy house and yard for my wife. The weather was unusually overcast and humid. From my house I rode east on Driver Valley road for 4 miles, then turned north on Elkhead road. My first stop was Mildred Kanipe County Park on Elkhead road. The park has peacocks living near the parking area.

One of many peacocks at Mildred Kanipe memorial park.
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Then I continued the climb up Elkhead road. The summit was 1150 feet elevation, 700 feet higher than my house. Much of the climb was an 8% grade.

I like the reflection of the rusted metal roof.
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Thanks to a recent clearcut I had a great view at the summit of Elkhead road.
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Then down the hill to cross I-5 and turn north on Anlauf road. Then a left turn on Boswell road. That ends a bit south of the town of Drain. So far today I've seen a car every 5 minutes. Traffic is a bit heavier as I get into the town of Drain.

My route was very close to I-5 for a minute or two. Wild sweet peas blooming in the foreground.
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Vineyard near Drain, Oregon.
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In Drain I stopped for lunch at a place that serves Indian Tacos. On my way out he gave me a free Indian Fry Bread. I bought a few more groceries at the pathetic grocery store (typical isolated small town grocery store). I detoured a couple blocks to bike across the Pass Creek covered bridge.

Comically colorful Victorian house in Drain, Oregon.
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Pass Creek covered bridge in Drain, Oregon.
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The sun came out for a few minutes, but not for long. The temperature was in the 70's. Cooler than normal and much more humid than normal. From Drain I pedaled north on state highway 38 for two miles and turned left onto Upper Smith River Road, beginning a 1000+ foot climb. The climb starts along a creek with residential ranchettes for the first 4 miles. Then the road climbs steeply with grades up to 10%. No houses. No power lines. Into the timber lands. To the top of a ridge that separates the Elk creek watershed from the Smith river watershed.

View looking south from the summit of Upper Smith River road.
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I took a long rest stop near the top of the ridge to enjoy the view looking south, the direction I came from. I called my wife. I will have no cellular service for the next 90 miles. The next store is 80 miles. Smith River Road is literally the Long and Winding Road. The summit is 1350 feet elevation. 1050 feet higher than Drain.

Foxglove and Daisy flowers on the roadside.
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The descent is more gradual than the climb. Rolling downhill trend for a few miles before joining the Smith river. It's just a small creek near its headwaters. I was hoping to camp at a County Park wayside 5 miles from the summit. The only wayside I found had a toilet, no water, and no sign. A few miles later I spotted a side path leading to the Smith river. I debated camping there but decided to go on. I rode another 11 easy miles before finding another decent riverside campsite at 650 feet elevation. I set up the tent in a small clearing 50 feet from the river.

Smith River 50 feet away from my campsite.
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The river is nice. Sandy, somewhat warm, about 1 foot deep. Flowing through a dense forest. Deep in the Oregon Coast Range. Red and black thimbleberries along the path to the river. Crawfish in the river. I ate some berries.

I filtered water from the river. It was so humid that the temperature didn't drop much in the evening. I didn't feel like making a hot meal so I ate the fry bread, fruit, and cookies.

Mosquitoes were bad at dusk (9PM), forcing me to retreat into my screen tent. I could hear a slight riffle in the river but no breeze. Quiet, stuffy, warm. I haven't heard a car in hours. Unnervingly quiet for the first night of a camping trip. I pulled out my little radio and found a couple of weak FM stations from Eugene.

Later on it gets DARK. I'm alone deep in the forest, far from man-made lights. The tree canopy and overcast sky blocks any starlight. Note to self: The first night of a trip should be at a campground, not free-camping deep in the boondocks.

Distance: 57.1 miles (91.4 km)
Climbing: 3109 feet (942 m)
Average Speed: 9.1 mph (14.6 km/h)
Maximum Speed: 34 mph (54.4 km/h)

Today's ride: 57 miles (92 km)
Total: 57 miles (92 km)

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