Summer Holiday – day 7

23 08 2015

Day seven of our road trip was exactly that… a road trip. We had to get from Crater Lake to the west coast, crossing some pretty hilly terrain in the meantime. We asked Doris for her best suggestion, and she was adamant that the best route was to dip far to the south – as far as California in fact – then head back up the coast road. The paper map plainly showed two alternative more direct routes, but admittedly these weren’t major highways. We had all day though, so we once more rejected Doris’ suggestion and told her we insisted on travelling via a little place called Agness, so that she’d be forced to route us more directly to the west.

Wow… this one little decision made for one heck of a day’s travel!! To give just a hint, let me illustrate the route we took using Google Maps.

Seems reasonably direct

Seems reasonably direct

We added a small detour to Medford to stock up on groceries. Medford it turned out was thick with smoke from the southern fires. Doesn’t seem so bad, does it? We didn’t think so. But… let me show you the same map without the nice blue line on it.

Where did the road go, exactly?

Where did the road go, exactly?

Yup – the part of the route that goes through the Rogue River – Siskiyou National Forest is, well, “interesting”.

Everything is fine and dandy until you get to Galice. The road from Merlin to Galice was definitely rural, but there were still road markings and a little traffic. Once you were past Galice though there were an ever increasing set of clues that maybe going all the way down to California wasn’t so silly after all. The signs had gunshot pellet holes. Then there were no signs. The road got narrow. There were warnings of closures in winter. There were sections of unpaved road with simply gravel to make the road at least passable after the last wash-out.  There was a forestry ranger parked in the middle of the road with his truck doors open when we turned a corner. He seemed shocked not to have the entire county to himself, and closed a door to let us pass. After winding our way for several more miles we finally encountered a flurry of traffic coming the other way. By now the road was single track and the on-coming traffic was in no mood to slow down or yield to an SUV with BC plates. Several of the vehicles were large vans towing trailers with 6 or 8 kayaks. We were glad for the off-road capability of the Pilot as we dove for cover in the bushes. The Rogue River is a popular white water rafting, fishing and kayaking destination. There were several tours you could take and I guess these drivers knew the road well and were “on the clock”.

Detail from the map board. Tell me this doesn't make you feel like maybe you shouldn't really be here...

Detail from the map board. Tell me this doesn’t make you feel like maybe you shouldn’t really be here… RED has that effect, on a map, as does the word “wild” and “wilderness”!

It was with jangly nerves and some relief when we finally came back to “normal” road – several stretches of rough gravel now safely behind us. Thankfully I noticed in time that Agness was actually on the other side of the river to us and it was a several mile detour on the one and only road in and out if we ACTUALLY went to Agness over the bridge. We managed to avoid that detour to “BFN” as my daughter would call it, and were pretty happy when we could smell the sea air and popped out at the coast near Wedderburn. A quick trek up the coast road and we were at our destination for the next couple of nights – Humbug Mountain. This was in a little oasis between the old coast road – which was now the access to the State Park – and the new straighter coast highway. But more of that in the next report.

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