Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Mystery Road

Monday May 6 2012

Red rhyolite cliffs rose high above us like impenetrable crenellated castle walls,

and guarded the verdant Castle Creek alongside which we rode.

The canyon walls squeezed together in places, providing excellent lounging/hunting hangouts for cougars (we didn't see or smell any), and widened in others to provide open meadows where homesteaders long ago eked out a living. Remnants of their orchards still survive in this canyon with year-round running water. The homesteaders left behind plows and harrows,

collapsed corrals,

a well-preserved (and elegantly constructed) dugout stone house,

and an old car, its innards rusting into the desert.

Beaver ponds

and meadows of rich grass made it easy to see why pioneers preferred this out-of-the-way canyon.

Just before the road dead ended far up the canyon, we saw another mysterious, enticing, and clearly-once-used two-track road that beat a path up and out of Castle Creek canyon, heading up a draw and aiming for the flats, toward the Owyhee Mountains.

Where did it go? Would it connect up with Alder Creek and the road to the Crazy Woman Mine? Most importantly: Could we make a new scenic loop for the next endurance ride?

Working for ride managers, you get that same compelling urge they have to explore, to discover new trails, and incorporate them into endurance rides, to share the beauty of new country with riders.

We marked the road for future exploration, and took up the research back home, on maps and google earth. That road doesn't show up on a topo map, and it's only a faint track on google earth for a ways.

But it must be a road that connects up somewhere. Surely the early pioneers didn't create a two-track road just up out of the canyon to make their cell phone calls? Cattle, at least, must have continued beating the track into a well-used trail on up toward the mountains, because that's what cows do.

It's a road that clearly must be explored another day.

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