crazyguyonabike 
Topic: Bicycle Touring [change]
About  Help  FAQ  Sitemap  Options  Sponsors  Donate 

  Ortlieb USA
US distributor of Ortlieb Outdoor Gear, Tubus Carrier Systems, and Ultralight Bike Mirrors
www.ortliebusa.com
  
  Europe Bike Tours & Barge Bike Tours - Family operated & online since 1999, we offer personally vetted bike tours all over Europe and Asia.
www.tripsite.com
  
  CRAZYGUY T-SHIRTS, HOODIES, MUGS, AND MORE - Crazy Guy on a Bike merchandise at Zazzle. All profits go to support CGOAB.
www.zazzle.com
  
  Schwalbe Marathon MONDIAL
expedition touring specialist
www.wallbike.com
  

 Home  My  Journals*   Articles*  Forums*  Reviews*  Resources  Classifieds*  Serendipity  Ratings*  Directory  Search  Website
 Contents  Status  Latest  Thumbnails  Slideshow  Author  Guestbook  Printable  Edit  Relation  Search  Bookmark  RSS  Ratings

First Prev Next Last (page 20 of 57) ContentsPage 1Page 2Page 3Page 4Page 5Page 6Page 7Page 8Page 9Page 10Page 11Page 12Page 13Page 14Page 15Page 16Page 17Page 18Page 19Page 20Page 21Page 22Page 23Page 24Page 25Page 26Page 27Page 28Page 29Page 30Page 31Page 32Page 33Page 34Page 35Page 36Page 37Page 38Page 39Page 40Page 41Page 42Page 43Page 44Page 45Page 46Page 47Page 48Page 49Page 50Page 51Page 52Page 53Page 54Page 55Page 56Page 57

Klamath Pilgrimage
By Robert Ewing - (contact)

Klamath Falls to State Line Take Out: via the Topsy Grade and Goodbye to MJ xoxo

Saturday September 13, 2008, 75 km (47 miles) - Total so far: 507 km (315 miles)

"Although Topsy Road is a public road, neither the federal nor county governments claim maintenance responsibility."

The Oregon State University archives

Low:  14oC (57oF) 7:00 am	
High: 35oC (95oF) 1:45 pm
Weather: Sunny & hot
TME:   6:00		
AVG:  11.2
MAX:  51.6		
Lodging: State Line Take Out - 4 stars +, Prv, Beer garden, 
dinner and breakfast AYCE Buffets with dessert cart, Gas fireplace,
on-call nurse, All Free!  
Maps: USFS Upper Klamath Basin, USFS Klamath National Forest and local knowledge

Relation | Bookmark | Edit | | Report | Link | GPX* JSON

Klamath Falls to State Line Takeout via Topsy Grade

Show links to this pic


Mary Jane's train back to Portland was scheduled to depart at 8:30 AM, and we had to box her bike up. It was early to rise and go to the motel office to pick up some continental breakfast, coffee and tea. MJ packed her Panniers and the extra duffel with the camping equipment she would be taking back, and leaving the equipment I would be continuing on solo with.

When we got to the train station it was closed, but a woman arrive fifteen minutes later and opened the door and checked the boxed bike and MJ in. I looked in the dumpster for a used Amtrak bike box, but none where there. Not uncommon for the Coast Starlite it would be two hours late in arriving. We said our good byes and I took off looking for the bicycle shop. My bottom bracket was popping terribly when climbing hills and I knew I wouldn't see another bike shop until Arcata a week from now. I found the shop and they were open. Hutch's Bicycles was a fairly new branch location from their mother shop in Bend, Oregon where we had gotten some parts on the way to MJ's triathlon race at Sun River a month earlier. They had just open the doors, but were already busy on a Saturday morning with customers coming in the door. I explained my plight and begged for mercy. The lone sales person looked around the shop and said the shop minimum was $30.00 and I smiled and said, go for it' not letting on what current Portland shop rates were. He had he shop mechanic give a second opinion and said the bb only needed to torqued down and didn't appear to be broken. Trying to give me my money's worth the sales person pulled the cranks, which he said were also loose, torqued the bb, and then cleaned and lubed my filthy chain, all the cables, and adjusted the derailleurs. He did a good job with the exception of the front derailleur, which I readjusted before heading out of town. They didn't have any rim tape to replace the deteriorated tape that was causing all my flats (rats), and no inner tubes to fit my fat tires. I got three 28/38 Specialized tubes and hoped for the best. They did have some nice fingerless gloves to replace my gloves that fell apart that morning.

The walls were covered with photos of mountain bikes racing in the area. I ask about the Topsy Grade. Surely there must have been a mountain bike race or something over it. No one in the shop had heard of it let alone how to get to it.

I headed back to the train station and MJ who was talking with the 85 year old local woman heading north to Portland. We said good-bye again, and I headed back to the Econolodge to pack up, and microwaved the Chinese leftovers for an early lunch. MJ had left some of her riding attire in the room so after packing Western Flyer I headed out in search of the post office and got several sets of directions. I head in the direction of the Saturday outdoor market and saw the post office down the block and it was still open. After fielding local questions of where I was from and where I was going I had five minutes to do my mailing. I ask a mid-twenties postal clerk about the Topsy. Yes, he had lived in Klamath Falls all his life and his father had taken him fishing there when he was fourteen, but he had only been to the picnic area just off Hwy 66. He turned to an older postal worker and asked her, and yes, she had driven on the Topsy two years ago. "It was graded, smoothed and compacted gravel, but a bit hilly." She gave me good enough directions so I would know when to start asking locally for the exact location. I was starting off on the second leg of my pilgrimage on a warm, sunny Oregon day (Late getting started, but on the road again nonetheless!).

It was already afternoon and I wasn't looking for the scenic way out of town so I headed right for the Hwy 97 on ramp and peddled south. I was using my Upper Klamath Basin NFS map, which is short on details of the major highways. The off ramp sign said Hwy 140 to Medford - Grants Pass with no mention of Hwy 66 and Ashland. It had to be right and I took it and shortly there was the sign to Ashland and I was back on the map. I did take time to travel up a dirt trail to the head of the Klamath River and the first dam and powerhouse.

Relation | Bookmark | Edit | | Report | Link
Click here for a larger version of the picture

Klamath River head waters


This area south of Klamath Lake is farm land growing alfalfa, hay and potatoes from what I could see right up to the river's banks with pump hoses into the river powering giant circular sprinkler systems that cover vast acreage in circular swaths. The excess water drain right back into the river and like the cattle land to the north the field were crossed with trenches draining and controlling the natural marsh.

Relation | Bookmark | Edit | | Report | Link
Click here for a larger version of the picture

Fire Danger on the Klamath

Relation | Bookmark | Edit | | Report | Link
Click here for a larger version of the picture

Klamath River at Keno, Oregon


The wind was at my back as I followed the river across relatively flat land toward the town of Keno, the last town or village with any services I would see until I got to Interstate 5. It was hot and I stopped at a gas station/convenience store only to find it had just gone out of business. When I got to Keno proper I did find a general store open and bought some snacks and a sports drink to keep my electrolytes up in the heat. The store was filled with hunters and there was a deer carcass in a pickup truck outside. I rode on.

Outside of town the road went up over a steep ridge that looked down into the Klamath River. Near the summit there was a turnout and view point with the mandatory sign stating emphatically "No Dumping" with the warnings of fines and prosecution for doing so. I pulled off to take a breather. (I take the "breather" quite often by doctor's orders.) Of course, right under the No Dumping sign was a spontaneous dump with a freshly discarded pickup camper shell surrounded by tires, sofas and miscellaneous garbage of all descriptions. All this in plain and clear sight of a national treasure of a river cutting through a mountain covered with pine and fir trees. As I started to ride away I got a whiff of death that every cyclist riding in the country experiences from time to time. I looked back over the edge and finally saw not fifteen feet from me a dead deer hidden in the brown summer grass. There was no sign that it had been gutted or attempted to be dressed, but it was decapitated. I hoped and prayed it was road kill and not sacrificed just for his antlers. Where it was dumped did not give me much optimism. I would see a lot of road kill on this trip.

Relation | Bookmark | Edit | | Report | Link
Click here for a larger version of the picture

Clinging to guns at the Hwy 66 Dump

Relation | Bookmark | Edit | | Report | Link
Click here for a larger version of the picture

Keno Hwy 66 Dump

Relation | Bookmark | Edit | | Report | Link
Click here for a larger version of the picture

Road Kill?

Relation | Bookmark | Edit | | Report | Link
Click here for a larger version of the picture

Keno Gap and Dump on Hwy 66


I coasted at speed down the mountain past the Sportsman Park, sort of a paintballesque archery range, in scrub pines with hay bail target scattered over many acres of land. The would-be hunters with painted faces were taking aim at the big circular targets with game animal images on them. And then with the wind rushing by me just as I was approaching a bridge crossing the Klamath there was a small brown street sign saying Topsy Rd. I hung a hard left rode to a parking lot and boat launch ramp. Pausing to get my bearings and rereading my map, I could plainly see what must be the Topsy. It was recently graded smooth and made of compacted gravel, which was a little loose, but no problem for the World Spirit tires and Western Flyer. This was not going to be a difficult ride. If I had gotten an early start I thought I might have made I-5. As it was I was thinking about camping at Copco or Iron Gate Lake. About three k in the gravel ran out and the road turned to dirt but not bad shape with some late summer dust, washboard and a few potholes. I came to the campsite at John Boyle dam and stopped in to fill my water bottles and get some reliable local knowledge of what lay ahead. I already knew from the Portland newspaper and Oregon Public Radio that the Klamath's water was not potable. There was no filtering it or boiling it. It was chemically toxic.

Relation | Bookmark | Edit | | Report | Link
Click here for a larger version of the picture

Beginning of the Topsy Road


I rode into the campground, and two woman playing cards called out to the camp host's trailer that they had a customer. An old grizzled man in a tee shirt, Levis and suspenders slowly came out and limped over towards me. I began to ask for direction and other information. He started to point to a faded map on the back of a sign board near the registration area but he didn't have his reading glasses and could not see the map. It was so faded I could not read it very well. He started a recitation of the entire route the whole way to Interstate 5. My porous short term memory strained to take in the details. I could remember that at almost all the junctions and Ys to stay to the right, but to ignore all the minor roads and tire tracks. He talked about Robber's Rock and the Topsy school house that lay in ruins with complicated directions that I frankly just couldn't remember.

I spied a faucet and went over to fill water bottles and a soft canteen. A big bright sign read "this water is not potable." I asked if there was any potable water available in the camp. The old man shouted that the water was fine and to go ahead and fill my bottles. The sign was for big RVs that could easily drain the five hundred gallons of trucked in water.

Relation | Bookmark | Edit | | Report | Link
Click here for a larger version of the picture

Tired Biker on the Topsy


There were many more roads than were on my Upper Klamath Basin map. My Klamath National Forest map showed no roads at all between Hwy 66 and the historic Topsy site. With the fading directions of a "blind man" I rode on.

The dirt road played out and I found myself navigating a steep grade covered with rocks and with a sheer drop off. Two ATVs were bouncing their way up and coming towards me. I stopped one rider and asked if was headed to the school house. "Yes, this was the right road, but it will get much steeper and rougher after the school house." It was all I could do to maintain my balance with a death grip on my cross brakes now. At the bottom of this grade it headed right back up the canyon wall to the crest. On the top, the road is mostly unimproved rough dirt, a welcome improvement.

Relation | Bookmark | Edit | | Report | Link
Click here for a larger version of the picture

Topsy Grade looking down from the edge.
Road on opposite bank is possible alternate
route with a ford of the river.


I came around a bend and there were the ruins of the Topsy school, a point of truly joyful recognition. After a rest, a snack and some photos I explored a little and there was Robber's Rock. It is a ten foot high monolith, which from an approaching angle appears to be a massive round boulder, but is really very thin and easy to hide behind.

Now what were the directions? I remembered at some point I was to take the road to the left. Was it at Robber's Rock, at the school house or just past the school? There were a lot of roads in lots of directions. I eliminated all the roads that looked less traveled and the ones that seemed to head back to where I had come. There was a road to the right of Robber's Rock that headed back down the canyon, and was very steep and strewn with large rocks, and had the remains of a rotting gate and stone pillars near the top. I started down because my map showed a similar road except it was shown several kilometers further south from the school, but maybe the school wasn't the "Historic Topsy" shown on the map. I was wishing I had brought my grandson's GPS. When it didn't turn in the depicted direction, I pushed WF back up the steep grade to the schoolhouse.

Relation | Bookmark | Edit | | Report | Link
Click here for a larger version of the picture

Topsy School House


It must be to the left of the school, but there were three well traveled roads all heading down steep slopes. I took a guess and walked down ones to look. It looked truly treacherous, little more than bedrock, so I went back to the school to figure things out. It was getting late and I hadn't seen or heard a 4x4 or ATV for quite a while. I started scouting about for a place to pitch camp near the school house knowing someone would surely be coming through on a Sunday. After about a half an hour I heard the whining and clanking of a 4x4 in compound low grinding up one of the grades, but I couldn't tell which one. All the roads bent into the school, and you can't see but a few meters down any of them. I mounted WF to intercept them when I could tell for certain which road they were on. It only took a glance to tell the best place to wait was Robber's Rock. As it came closer, I could hear the tires slipping and burning rubber on the rocks and the occasional thunder as it bottomed out. There it came, wheels spinning as it lurched over the last rocks. I swooped down and ambushed the dirt covered pickup truck that was running hot, with the smell of hot oil and rubber emanating from its underside. There was a young woman driving who had come out of Arcata. She was also lost and was trying to get to Bend Oregon. We saved each other. I knew where I had been and she knew where she had been. We exchanged reverse directions and wished God's speed to each other. Her male companion in the passenger seat, wearing a Bob Marley tee shirt, seamed oblivious to the whole situation, and may have been high on some North Country Bud. They drove off. I could hear the engine whine back into the distance as I secured my load and rode on. (The correct road is the one just to the left of the School facing in a southwesterly direction as seen from Robber's Rock.) I could almost hear Western Flyer shout, "Hold on tight, this is going to be rough, really rough!"

How a stagecoach ever got up and down that grade is beyond me. I had to repeatedly stop and reposition the bike and then plan a strategy out for small sections of the decent that were interrupted with short climbs, but we were doing it. I was amazed the World Spirit tires were holding up going over the jagged rocks. I expected at any moment for one of them to fail, or break a spoke, or a rim, or an axle, or all four. The grade eventually moderated and turned to deeply rutted dirt and rocks, which was a big relief. At a relatively flat stretch in the road I came to little used dirt road that headed toward a point at the canyon's edge.

I rode out to get my bearings and a picture. Shortly, I spotted an official looking 4x4 pickup with over-sized off road tires. I am not going to identify this person by name, gender, job description or branch of government. He or she had a belt with a 9mm pistol with lots of backup clips of ammo and even more firepower in the truck. Standing at the cliff's edge peering out at the surroundings with high power binoculars the person turn to see who was coming as I approached on the Flyer. "Who the hell are you? Where did you come from? How did you get here? What are you doing here and where the hell are you going?" Was the greeting. "Robert, Crater Lake, your looking at it, exploring the Klamath and I am going the Pacific Ocean if I can figure out how to get there from here," were my answers, which were responded to with a hand shake. "I have been patrolling this river for over twenty years and never seen the likes of you on this road." Well that put a big smile on my face. I asked how even a 4x4 can negotiate the Topsy Grade. A finger pointed to the truck's tires. "They aren't standard government issue."

I began to inquire about the fate of the Klamath, and the dams, and the salmon. The immediate response with no hesitation was, "to clean up the Klamath you need to start at the mouth. The Indians put their gill nets across the river every hundred yards. How's a fish to get through that maze. Then there are the gold dredges spewing their tailing back into the river, then the run off and silt from logging, then the dams and the toxic algae and finally the farmers and ranchers leaching their agricultural effluent into the head waters. And despite all these impossible conditions I have been hiking up streams so small you could barely fill your canteen with water and there would be a big old Chinook laying eggs."

"To keep the whole joke going the government operates the salmon hatcheries which lets everyone think if someone else would clean up their act everything would be ok." And on and on it went for fifteen to twenty minutes. I was asked if I was going to write anything up when I got back to Portland. I said I was on a personal pilgrimage, but I would be putting something up on a bicycle forum and perhaps some public presentations. "Where are you going to spend the night?" That was my next questions as I pulled out my NFS map and ask how far I was from State Line Takeout? It was about two kilometers down the road. "I was just down there and a group of rafters were hanging up their wetsuits and pulling out some coolers of cold beer and cooking a lot of tasty food. I am sure they will take good care of you."

I reach into my map case and pulled out the Six Rivers NFS map and asked about getting to the pacific staying as close as possible to the Klamath. "You have to take the Bald Hills Road, but the bridge at Martins Ferry is closed because of an immediate threat of collapse. I took out a pencil and got the twenty mile detour route to Bald Hill Road. "Be very careful around there it can get kind of "Western." I looked puzzled. "It is Indian country. Headlight shootings, there is no hunting season on the reservation and you will be going right through the middle of it. And some folks are not too happy with the white man." I ask about the condition of the Bald Hills Road. "It is worse than the Topsy in terms of teeth chattering surfaces and tearing drive trains up." We shook hands again and departed. As a last bit of advice I was told to stay at the historic Requa Inn at the mouth of the Klamath. There were really nice people who ran it. A hot tub that would feel pretty healing after the Topsy and Bald Hills.

Relation | Bookmark | Edit | | Report | Link
Click here for a larger version of the picture

Looking into California with government agent

Relation | Bookmark | Edit | | Report | Link
Click here for a larger version of the picture

Topsy Dust

Relation | Bookmark | Edit | | Report | Link
Click here for a larger version of the picture

Topsy Grade - You aren't going to ride this with street tires!

Show links to this pic


Off I went. I was almost done riding for the day and there wasn't much day left. I believed in my bike and started to ride a little faster. The road flattened out for a while. There were dust pools, yes pools, over the road in places. I approached them with caution. There was no indication of how deep they were or what they might be hiding under them. The first few were a half and inch thick at most. WF with the World Spirit tires went through them with esprit de corps. As I rode on I could see by the 4x4 whorls that it was much deeper, but the bike seemed to almost float on the surface. I sailed through them. Then I crashed. The dust was maybe eight inches thick, the bike broached sideways and down we went with me under the frame face down in the dust. It almost felt like landing on snow. I took stock of myself and when everything seemed to work, and if not pain free at least there was no real trauma. I extricated myself from under the bike. Western Flyer apart from the bottle cage on the underside of the down tube being destroyed seemed to be in working order. I got back up, and got back on, and got back to riding. There was the sign for the State Line Water Recreational Site.

Relation | Bookmark | Edit | | Report | Link
Click here for a larger version of the picture


I headed down a steep dirt road and there nestled in the trees was a flotilla of rafters milling around and sitting in those comfy looking portable canvas chairs you see on display at REI.

They saw me as soon as I saw them. Two men, Jim and Richard, met me as I leaned WF up against a tree. Jim looked to be not much younger than me with a white beard and curly hair that was less than well manage after a day on the Klamath rapids. Richard was around thirty and wiry. They both took notice of the Flyer especially noting the near zero clearance between the seat tube and the World Spirits. Jim put a cold Pacifico in my hand and asked if there was anything else I would like. I tease him for a lime to go with the beer. "Sorry," was the reply as he hurried off and returned with a fresh green wedge.

"Hi, I'm Rachel, the club medic. Should I get the first aid kit?" "Why," I asked. She pointed to my leg. I looked down and saw my right calf had a trail of blood and mud was trailing down into my sock. With a cleaning squirt of water it seemed pretty pretty superficial. A little antibiotic on it and we called it good.

Relation | Bookmark | Edit | | Report | Link
Click here for a larger version of the picture

The wound a few days later


Dinner was served. A handful of corn crushed chips topped with Chili, cheese, greens, salsa and guacamole, lots of calories--just what I needed. Jim showed me a free running irrigation ditch next to the camp. "You can bath with soap in it. It goes into pasture land and will not pollute the river." The fire danger was extreme and no campfires were permitted. A few of the campers brought out a giant iron wok filled with glass marbles, maybe three feet in diameter, and hooked it up to a propane tank. It belonged to their rafting club back in Sacramento. Some how it is classified as a camp stove and was legal during a no fire period. I'm not sure any of the campers had ever lit the thing up before. In a previous lifetime, I was a potter and had the fortune of blowing the door off a ceramic gas kiln while lighting it, and personally flying about fifteen feet in distance. My offer to assist was ignored as I heard the raw propane hissing out of the wok. The flame shot twenty feet into the air with a roar and my mustache and eyebrows smelled like were shortened, but no serious injuries.

I collapsed into a camp chair and slowly talked to all the bikers in the group. A young man, Joel, in his twenties sat down and we talked about the river. His brother-in-law's father was a Klamath Basin farmer. And apparently this farmer felt the Klamath and Modoc Indians were trying to make a land grab by getting the state to breach a few of the levies and restore some of the historic marshlands under the guise of saving rare Klamath short nosed Sucker fish, which was a key part of the traditional Klamath Indian's diet and culture.

Conversation and celebration continue for quite a while. Did I mention the eight foot long dessert table? I turned in, rolling the rain fly back to sleep under the stars.


Show links to this page


First Prev Next Last (page 20 of 57) ContentsPage 1Page 2Page 3Page 4Page 5Page 6Page 7Page 8Page 9Page 10Page 11Page 12Page 13Page 14Page 15Page 16Page 17Page 18Page 19Page 20Page 21Page 22Page 23Page 24Page 25Page 26Page 27Page 28Page 29Page 30Page 31Page 32Page 33Page 34Page 35Page 36Page 37Page 38Page 39Page 40Page 41Page 42Page 43Page 44Page 45Page 46Page 47Page 48Page 49Page 50Page 51Page 52Page 53Page 54Page 55Page 56Page 57


"Klamath Pilgrimage" Copyright © 2009-2014 By Robert Ewing - (contact). All rights reserved.
Page was created on February 9, 2009 23:05 PDT, last updated on February 21, 2014 17:35 PDT
Website Copyright © 2000-2014 by Neil Gunton Tue 21 Oct 2014 23:22 (US/Pacific) (0.347s)      Top    Link    Report    Terms of Service