Western US Moto Adventure 7/17/2012: OR – Bald Knob Fire Tower, Siskiyou National Forest

I only made two reservations ahead of time for this trip, and one of them was for tonight. We also wanted to explore Crater Lake National Park more, but there’s just too much we want to see, and no matter how much time you have, its never enough. We packed up camp in cool but dry weather, and stopped for a little more sight seeing before leaving the Park.

(The island is called Wizard Island. Kevin and I thought it was more suited as the lair of an evil genius).

Heading west back toward the coast:

Its sort of strange feeling having ridden all the way to Oregon. We’re like our pioneer fore-bearers, blazing a trail west, using only our wits and our credit cards:

Foraging for free wi-fi:

The destination for tonight was a fire tower in a national forest in Oregon. Before we’d left for the trip, we’d discovered this neat program in one of our travel books (thanks Uncle Bill). Basically, the towers used to be used by forest service personnel to watch and report wild fires, and track the weather. Technology has eliminated the need for a person to do this job, but the towers remain. Since the towers are technically obsolete, there is no longer funding to maintain them. Rather than let them fall into dis-repair, the forest service chose to rent them out. The program turned out to be hugely popular, requiring reservation months ahead of time. The funds pay to maintain the old towers, which still serve as a back up for forest service operations.

The towers are obviously located in places with some spectacular views, and its easy to see why the program is so popular. Even though we arrived in the rain, it was still pretty neat. There is no running water, but the propane heater kept me warm enough to recommend the experience.

Getting to the tower on the bikes was a bit of an adventure. According to the directions, we would have to ride about 8 miles of unpaved forest service road (which didn’t sound so bad). We ended up riding about 30 miles off road, and almost didn’t make it to the tower. We rode the final three hours of the day in the rain, and managed to miss a turn to head to the fire tower. We rode about ten miles of slow and difficult gravel road (with wet, greasy, slippery sections thrown in for fun) on forest rd 33 heading south before we realized our mistake. When we stopped, it was after 6:30, and we hadn’t eaten since lunch. We agreed to try go back and look for the turn, but give up and find a hotel if we couldn’t find it within 45 minutes.

Finding the turn we had missed 45 minutes later was a mixed blessing. The condition of the road leading to the tower is passable by car, but just barely. The forest service trucks are four wheel drive. Conquering that steep, rutted, greasy, rough road on a fully loaded street bike in the rain and cold is just plain hard-core. Kevin’s bike pretends to have some off-road capability, my bike makes no such claims. In the motorcycle adventure touring community, the “adventure” part is interpreted by purists to include some serious off-pavement riding. Making the tower without any mishaps definitely put the adventure into our tour.

7/17/2012 – 241 miles. Staying in the fire tower is definitely one of the favorite and most memorable experiences so far on this trip.

This entry was posted in 2012 Cross Country, 2012 Ducati Monster 696, Moto Ride Reports, Motorcycles. Bookmark the permalink.

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