After a sweet ride out of Cottage Grove through the scenic Row River Trail, we entered BLM land and met our most formidable and inconspicuously named road yet: NF-010. The ascent was brutal: 4,000 ft in less than 4 miles with a gnarly grade and no switchbacks. It’s the kind of road you don’t see cars on – but if you do, they’re 4x4 trucks. It’s the kind of road where once you reach its end, you’re in a new ecosystem. That’s what it felt like. A dense, cold mountain forest.
During a break to rest our aching knees, the rain caught up to us. That’s when morale got low — and we didn’t know how much more climbing was ahead as we had no service. Soon after the break though, we reach a fork that seems to be the summit. No kidding: At that very moment, the clouds part and we witness a beautiful rainbow in the distance as we soar down the mountain to Steamboat. Oh, glorious day!
At Steamboat, we camp out, sow seeds, and sing an original setting of a Han Shan poem to commemorate our climb:
High, high on the top of the peak,
look all around as far as you can see, no end.
I sit by myself, and no one knows,
orphan moon reflecting from Cold Spring.
There is no moon in the spring,
the moon's white's in the sky.
I hum this little tune without Zen.