October 8th, 2009 - Rogue Wilderness Crossing
When I was in Beaverton, I asked Todd if he knew a road that went from the coast to Medford avoiding major highways and he said “Yes, there is a road, but you don’t want to take it with a loaded bike like that”.
The road that goes from Gold beach to Merlin is indeed a challenging road. I know because I rode it. It passes through the Rogue Wilderness and Kalmiopsis National Forest and is 50 miles long. It is a one lane road with two way traffic, and with blocked sections due to slides and loose gravel patches. It is a gorgeous ride through some the oldest forests in Oregon that goes from sea level to 4500 ft at the Bear Camp Pass. The wind was so strong that at times I thought I would get blown off the ridge and the temperature dropped by the minute.
To begin with, at the junction in Agnes, I took a wrong turn and I was officially lost. After riding for 40 minutes, I came to the conclusion that there was something wrong. The map showed that the road was paved and heading east but my compass kept on pointing north and the road I was on had turned into single tracks.
For the only second time since the start of the expedition, I fired up the GPS. (I used it once to tell Todd where I was in Portland but I wasn’t lost that time). My GPS is not a mapping unit so I had to match the coordinates to the map and figure out my location. The problem with the map that I have is that the latitude markers are not very precise and had to be divided into minutes and seconds so I could get an exact fix on my position. With no ruler to measure, I did a good job of dividing the degrees latitude and to my horror, I found myself about 12 miles north of my intended route. My compass was right, I was going north indeed.
I backtracked to the junction and found the sign for 23E to Merlin. At Bear Camp Pass, my thermometer showed 29 degrees Fahrenheit in full sunshine. My hands where frozen in my summer leather gloves and I could swear I had an icicle hanging from my nose. All I wanted was to get to lower elevation quick and be out of the wind but the road didn’t go down. Instead it kept on going at 4000 ft for another 5 miles before finally descending down. It was getting late in the day and I had to find a camping spot but I had no water.
I saw a truck camper in the woods and approached it to ask the guy for drinking water. The man in the camper was John Scullion and he turned out to be one hell of a nice guy, and in all strangeness, he was from South Carolina, where I lived for few years. We knew the same fishing spots and beaches and had a lot to talk about so I pitched my tent next to his camper and got down to talking.
I made chicken cacciatore with Basmati rice for dinner over the fire and he told me what gold mining was all about which I found very interesting. He even showed me some of the gold nuggets he found and we got along pretty good. The next morning, after a mushroom omelet (regular mushroom, that is), I hit the road to Medford. In Medford, the Rogue Regency Inn sponsored my accommodation for two days while I went around the town looking for sponsors. The hotel was clean with indoor pool and spa and friendly staff.
Motorcycle Superstore headquarters is located in Medford and I wanted to get those guys on-board. They have not call me back yet but I hope they do. While in Town, Kurt Beckman from Bike Barn Motorcycles did sponsor me and Medford was all good again. Bike Barn is on the N. Pacific Highway in Medford and their focus is on dirt bikes but nevertheless, it was a cool shop. He had some Husaberg dirt bikes which you don’t see around very often, along with some cool Moto Guzzies. Thank you Kurt for your support.
I left Medford this morning and will stay in Ashland tonight with Gib (we finally caught up again). I will head south tomorrow towards San José to meet up with Tom, another member from GSresources to do the final adjustments to the bike before crossing the border into México.
P.S. I have not received a penny in donations for Centro de Bethania. Get moving guys. I’m counting on you.