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OBDR Day 4: Flying Debris Ahead

August 1, 2017.

We slept soundly through the calm night and woke up just as the sun was painting the sky the next morning. Well rested, we were excited for the coming day of travel - the plan was to reach Seneca, the town where we'd set off on what turned out to be Mission Impossible: OBDR, back in May. Once again, we enjoyed a hot breakfast before packing up and heading out; we were on the road by 7:45am.

The OBDR wasn't far from our camp site, and by 8:00am we were through the first gate and making our way between a bluff and a pasture.

"I'm so glad the roads are nicer today." @mrs.turbodb said, to which I let out a sigh. Like clockwork, the road immediately turned into the same rocky hell we'd experienced the previous day.

We hoped the sky foretold better roads ahead.

The bumps continued for an hour until we crested a bluff and came to a large shallow lake. Once again, the GPS tracks headed straight through - something we weren't about to attempt a second time! Instead, we very carefully crawled around the edge of the lake - on dry clay, but only inches above the water line - picking up the road again on the other side, where we were involved in a second show-down with a calf.

Once again, we were victorious!

This wouldn't be our last encounter with the cows, and our victory wouldn't always be so complete. But for now, we continued onward, momma cow keeping a close eye on us.

Almost immediately the trail got noticeably worse. So bad in fact, that I turned off the truck at the bottom of a hill climb, and started walking the trail, picking a line and moving basketball+ sized boulders to the side of the road. It was already 95°F and I was hot. My clean shirt was sweaty, and as I climbed back in the truck, the AC went on full blast.

In the end, and with careful planning, we made it up the hill and through gate at the top with little fanfare. Soon after, we entered the trees that marked the boundary of Ochoco National Forest. Except for a few short spurts, we'd conquered the tundra, a little dusty but full of hope for better roads ahead.

…and ultimately, while forest roads were slow going at times and offered their own challenges, we generally preferred them to rocky hell of the high desert.

Need a set of jump seats for your Jeep? Free pair (needs a little rust removal) at the entrance to Ochoco National Forest.

Not far into the forest, it was clear that the Forest Service had been hard at work. Underbrush and dead trees were not only cleared, but the enormous burn piles - more than 75 ft in diameter - had already been burned. Kudos to the good folks who did that work.

Past the burn piles, we came across a tree in the road. Nothing we couldn't handle quickly as we moved on, past road closed signs and through dry river crossings. Every mile traveled above 5 mph raising our spirits and bringing us closer to our goal.

Caught in the act…and the result.

Along our way, we also ran into a few trees and a required re-route (where the GPS indicated an ATV trail), but everything was easily dealt with until we arrived at Delintment Lake - where we planned to eat lunch and take a dip to wash up. After three and a half days on the road, we stank!

Turns out, there was an algae bloom going on in the lake, and the warning signs suggested "if you choose to eat the fish…" and "stay out of the water."

Awesome. No baths for us.

But we're nothing if not immodest. Delintment Lake also happens to host a camp ground, and in that camp ground there is potable water from a manual-pump well-head. Who cares that the water was close to 40 degrees? We pumped it out and took it in our Rotopax to the forest behind camp site 14. We stripped down, soaped up, and rinsed off.

It was amazing. We were refreshed. And yeah, some forest service folks drove by while we were bathing in our birthday suits, but we (mostly) didn't care.

An hour and fifteen minutes after stopping for lunch, we were back on the road with a fully supply of clean mountain well water, enjoying all that the OBDR had to offer.

Cresting Snow Mountain, we got cell signal for a second.

Forest management (brush clearing and burn piles) was evident throughout Ochoco; it was great to see.

And then, as we joined up with the final road into Seneca, we were greeted by a sign that raised more questions than any that we'd seen so far: FLYING DEBRIS AHEAD. Interest piqued, we carried on.

It was no joke, there was debris everywhere. It looked like a chipper had been through the forest (more of that maintenance). Turns out, it was one of these. It was cool, but it's no first gen Tacoma!

Twenty dusty minutes later, we were pulling into Seneca - we'd made it!

But we were not done. Not even for the day. Not by a long shot.

After filling up with gas (the store was closed, but there was an "after-hours gas" number to call), we contemplated our options. We could make dinner in town and find a nearby spot to camp, or we could push another 15-20 miles to camp at Frasier Lookout - which we’d attempted to see on our previous OBDR run but had been stymied by snow.

Always up for adventure, we decided that since we’d already run this part of the route a couple months earlier, we wouldn’t be missing much by running it in the dark this time - so we pressed on, re-entering the OBDR off of Road 16, just as we had two months earlier.

On the road, we didn’t need the GPS for this section. Everything was familiar. So familiar that we made the same wrong turns we’d made the first time; sure that they were right the second time.

And then, off to the side of the road we spotted an animal we’d never seen in the wild. A porcupine. As I hopped out to get a better angle, @mrs.turbodb yelled, "be careful!"

As dusk settled, we passed trees that we’d cleared in May - still on the side of the road in most places. "Thank you, us!" We smiled as we drove on.

And then it was dark. With 10 or so miles to go, we proceeded with caution. "Drive by wire," @mrs.turbodb called it, since to her, the GPS was just as good during the night as it was during the day.

And then, just a mile before Frazier Lookout - another stand-off with cows. This time there were 5 of them in the road, more disoriented in the dark, with the bright headlights shining at them.

Completely stopped, and 20 feet away, I honked. Three of them moved.

I honked again. Only one more on the road. A calf.

And then the calf freaked out. It was as if it had been groomed for bull riding. It started running around, disoriented. Left. Right. Finally, it came to a stop just in front and to the driver side of the truck.

And then it bolted. Right at the truck. It swerved in front of the truck at the last minute and avoided a direct hit, glancing off the passenger side of the bumper. And then it took off into the forest.

So now we know that a @RelentlessFab bumper can stand up to a cow. Not that we had any doubts.

After slowly moving on, we arrived at Frazier Lookout around 9:30pm. It would be our latest night (and the only one in the dark) driving, and we’d eat fresh mushroom pizza in the dark. We climbed into the tent around 11pm, exhausted but excited for the next day - when we’d try once again to run the OBDR from Seneca to Unity (and beyond), the segment that had foiled us just two months earlier.


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