Our brother rides have been in North Idaho forests so it was time for different scenery. Joel and I were lucky to have good weather while visiting Succor Creek, Leslie Gulch, Birch Creek Historic Ranch and Jordan Craters.
Happy Trails nerf bars and skid plate were applied to Joel’s KLR the night before our ride. Thanks to Ed for making that come together in spite of not officially having all the parts in stock.
Joel used my faux dremel to clean up some plastic edges then accidently touched it on the windshield for the final, finishing touch.
I had to tease Joel about loading so much. “Just testing the setup,” he explained. Whatever. I know those bags are stuffed with lovingly packed hors d’oeuvres from Jill.
Ready for launch.
We followed back roads instead of the Interstate west. I wanted Joel to appreciate that the Boise area can be pretty too.
This route would involve crossing Succor Creek a couple times. It wasn’t looking good.
This was a little splash on the wheels last time through. We stopped to assess our options as a couple ladies on horseback approached from behind.
“I got my foot wet,” the nearest lady said, bending her ankle to show us how deep the water was on the horses. The lead horse refused to cross here.
“What’s the best way to Succor Creek Road?” I asked between shared remarks on the beautiful day. We obviously weren’t going this way. We didn’t get much of an answer out of them.
“I think they hated us,” I said to Joel in a low voice as they rode away.
Between squints at the tiny GPS screen and good old-fashioned dead reckoning, we didn’t lose too much time on our way to Succor Creek State Park.
I have wanted to stop here and poke around before where Succor Creek cuts into the overhanging cliff.
Joel and I had nothing to add.
We all gotta pee sometime.
It was a short break.
This overlooks Succor Creek State Park from the opposite end.
The forecast called for wind gusts up to 50 miles per hour. I don’t think we experienced any that strong but combined with the freshly graded, thick gravel, it was entertaining just keeping to the Leslie Gulch road.
neck bent apply the brakes for the reign of firespa
We stopped for a brief hike among these peculiar formations.
Jess and I came across this partially hidden memorial on an earlier hike. I went to show Joel and was surprised to find it broken. Who would do such a thing?
I think they look like eyelids. Creepy monster eyelids.
I know it isn’t his favorite thing but he agreed to pose.
We sat here a bit and comtemplated our odd surroundings.
“Let me get another picture to make Jesse jealous,” I requested.
Jesse was supposed to come along for this ride. We kept adjusting the timing to accommodate everyone’s schedules but in the end Jesse decided school was more important. What a lamer.
There must have been a little cloudburst above the cutoff to Mogogany Creek. It was a slow-going, legs out affair avoiding a nap in the mud.
Last time through I circled far around this farm, through which is the most direct overland route to Jordan Craters Road, on the assumption it was occupied.
Well, turns out it isn’t. There were no signs or gates to ward us off so Joel and I stopped for a look then continued straight through.
I was worried that Mahogany Creek might be running as high as Succor Creek so I let Joel go first.
Two inches of water we can handle.
cows stand chewing wet meadow grass while mud swallows wheelsspa
Here we have Joel “Runs with Cows” Abbott. He did a little loop out among them—kind of became one of them.
faint tracks the sound of wind this must be the wayspa
As the bird flies, this should be a pretty good shortcut (cue rolled eyes from my wife). My first time through was a little challenging but I’d had time to study the map and GPS tracks for this second pass.
We have skipped ahead a bit because I saw things getting a little messy ahead and gathered momentum just to launch myself into an axle-deep quagmire.
So I stopped and waited for Joel to offer his help. It seemed like it took him a long time to offer while I stood in my waterproof boots watching him in his non-waterproof boots.
It doesn’t look bad but the GS was having none of it. Althought the KLR is twice Joel’s previous bike I was happy to demonstrate that it’s still better in the mud than a GS.
I felt bad about laying a track like this through somebody’s field but by the time conditions were obvious we were close to being across. Mea culpa.
Do not be deceived by the line called Magogany Creek Road. It was put there by a nefarious Delorme employee to crush spirits. It’s just a creek and cow pasture.
Fences and ponds turned us around a few times in spite of this being Plan 2.0. But I am steadfast in the conviction that it’s a shortcut. Third time will be perfect. Promise.
The wind that nearly blew us off the Leslie Gulch Road was felt again, coldly, as we passed by the fog shrouded Jordan Craters lava field.
Perfect: we have four wheels between us.
Everything in the ride so far I’d seen but down to the Birch Creek Historic Ranch I’d not been.
That’s a good pose, there.
The contrasting rocks caught my attention.
I guess that’s Birch Creek.
I waved Joel by so I could capture this dramatic water crossing. Well, it might have been dramatic if not for that speed limit.
water wheel ingenuity a late frostspa
“Nestled among cream and chocolate colored hills, barren red cliffs, and towering rock spires lays a secret oasis: the Birch Creek Historic Ranch. Established in the early 1900s, the ingenuity and determination of a Basque sheepherder and a West Virginia cattle rancher are still evident at the site today. Stone walls built in the Basque tradition still ascend the mesa. Remnants of a waterwheel hint at the lush alfalfa fields fed through the gravity irrigation system. Nineteen buildings and structures at the ranch contribute to the property’s designation as a historical rural landscape on the Department of the Interior’s National Register of Historic Places.”¹
How did your feet get wet? —the question I didn’t ask.
We were glad to see abundant fuel. The Owyhees don’t always provide much.
I used the excuse of recent surgery to defer to Joel for the wood cutting. He did good work.
In our different brother rides, we couldn’t remember arriving at a campsite with so much remaining daylight. Now what do we do?
I decided to explore the cliffs.
The large crack in the rock that I hoped might be the entrance to a fantastic cave instead was a hollow that, judging by stacked rock walls, had long ago been used as a corral.
I saw a big rabbit over here but it could scramble a lot better than I could.
I wonder what the story of the perch and chain is.
Once your eyes adjust to the subtle desert colors, the rocks up here are pretty spectacular. I felt like a kid in a candy store as I climbed around these rocks.
“Both properties were homesteaded between 1899 and 1901. The property was used as the headquarters for livestock ranching operations throughout the historic and early modern periods until 1968–1977 … The rows of mature locusts and elms Morrison planted some 60 years ago.”¹
BLM Historic Structure Report, pp. 5, 12
climbing heart quickens to cracked rocks plucked of treasurespa
It was clear every nook and cranny had been repeatedly picked over for thundereggs. Little round hollows signifying their absence were everywhere.
“A Thunderegg is not actually a rock. It is a structure, sometimes a nodule, sometimes a geode, occurring in rhyolite, welded tuff, or perlitic rocks. However, without question, the Thunderegg is by far the most popular ‘rock’ in Oregon.”¹