September 11, 2006

The Conscientious Deer...

Last minute plans are sometimes the best. I know that our fantastic weather days are numbered, so I've been putting in some heavy miles since I got the bike back together. Yesterday morning, I got up feeling well, considering the night before I thought I was really ill. Made a call to my buddy Bob to see if he would want to go out to Windy Ridge, a little more than a hop skip and a jump to Mount Saint Helens, but closer than many people ever get to that mountain. Bob was all ready on the road when I called, but he answered his phone while at a stop.

By around 8:30 or so, we hit I5 north to Hwy 14 in Washington. We talked about doing this trip earlier in the week, so we had a good idea on how to navigate the back roads. Our first stop was in Carson, where we topped off our tanks to take the journey to Windy Ridge.

"You meet the nicest people on a a motorcycle." That was the tag line of Honda, when they brought their motorcycles back in the 60's to sell to the American market. So true are those words. We met a family of bikers. A mom, dad and daughter trio, all riding sport bikes. The mom and dad sported bumblebee GSXR's and the daughter was on a beatiful blue version of Bob's bike, SV650. We graciously accepted a great map of the area from the Dad who knew these roads like the back of his hand.

After leaving Carson, north on Wind River Highway, in the distance I saw a strange shape that was moving. I quickly slowed and moved away into the opposite direction lane that was open. A very good sized deer calmly looked at me as I passed. The deer stayed to the side of the road until Bob passed, then scampered off across the road. Bob had just sent me photos of a biker who hit a deer and totalled his bike. He was well enough to take photos of the ugly event and we both had the images of the bike in our heads as we travelled on...

Around Curley Creek Road to FS25, we stopped at a very dramatic view of Mt. St. Helens from a distance. We again met up with the family riders, along with a slew of other bikers. It is such a cool feeling to see more motorcycles on road than cages.

Up FS25 to FS99 led us to our destination. The drop off on the un-railed roads didn't affect me until the way down, where a bad move could cost you the ultimate price. I'm so sure the scenery was amazing, but both up and the way down, I couldn't focus on anything but the road. Once we reached Windy Ridge, the view of Spirit Lake was just as astounding. The fallen trees are still clogging up a good portion of the lake, after over 26 years. New growth has made up for years of desolation, but you can still feel the power of what happened there.

The ride home was trying. The constant focus to form and technique down the challenging twists and turns put a toll on both B and I. We took a different route thru Couger, which was the only place in the area to feed our bikes with fuel again. Back to I5 near Woodlawn and the last sprint home.

We made the trip safely, but I always will think of the deer who allowed it to happen...

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