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In Search of Buck Prairie
by Morgan, the RV Dog

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This is my first season of mountain bike riding. Dale has thousands of miles of experience but I have the advantage of age. He is 58 while I'm only 32 (in dog years) which is younger than Dale was when he began mountain biking. Even though Dale has more experience he has not ridden off-road in 15 years. Yes, he put a couple

thousand miles on his bike as a bicycle tourist but road riding is not the same as mountain biking. You see, he lived at Lake Tahoe, California for 13 years before moving to southern Oregon in 1990. At Lake Tahoe, he could ride the Sierra Nevada trails each day. That was long before I was born. He still uses the same old bike that was built in 1988. Even though it was an expensive bike, it doesn't even have a shock fork and I can tell that all these mountain rocks are beating his old body to pieces (he secretly told me he'd love to have a new bike with full suspension).

In this story, I want to show you how Dale and I used a Topo map and his GPS to find Buck Prairie Meadow. It's May, 2005 and we've been riding about five times looking for the meadow but have not found it because we either got lost or just pooped-out (excuse my language). The area in the map below is about 1.5 miles west of Howard Prairie Resort in the National Forest.

  Transporting the mountain bike in the back of the pickup using a pickup-bed bike rack. Since Dale and I had already been in the woods for several rides, we knew where we would park and marked that on the Topo map with a "waypoint" called "parkhere". A waypoint is a specific point on the earth with known coordinates (longitude and latitude). Of course, every point can have coordinates but a waypoint has coordinates which are recorded so you can travel toward that point. Dale and I recorded several more
waypoints in order from BPR01-12 with the idea that we would locate these waypoints using our GPS along the dirt roads shown on the map so we could finally reach Buck Prairie which you see on the map in the lower left corner. The road is a smoothly graveled road for the first 1/4 mile, then we leave that road for dirt. I like the dirt better, it's easier on my paws.
We rode cross-country into the woods in search of BPR01

We first downloaded the waypoints to our GPS from the National Geographic TOPO! Oregon on our computer. The first waypoint (BPR01) seems to be in the middle of a mountain with no roads but we know there is a road near this point. We also know there is a short section to go cross-country with no roads. We need the help of the Garmin eTrex Venture GPS to get us through the woods and to BPR01. The photo above

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shows the point where we left the road to go cross-country toward our first waypoint. As we are riding through the woods, we see the plant pictured above. Neither of us know what it is. It's about the size of a small pineapple, all white and growing to about 6 " off the ground and feels like a mushroom. After about 200 yards of cross-country we find a rough road which we use to find our first waypoint at BPR01 pictured at the right. This road is not on the map but it does look like some vehicles occasionally use it
  for some reason. Along the way we saw what looked like a rough campsite where someone had made a fire ring. It was level and would probably make a good place to spend the night plus watch the stars. As we ride toward BPR02 you can see from the map that we could follow a contour line and not have to do much

climbing but as it turns out the road we are following makes a pretty steep climb, not for me, but for Dale. He had to get off and walk up the short hill because it is so steep and all the rocks keep his bike from having good traction. I can tell you that we have come this way many times since the day these photos were taken and Dale has remembered how to climb hills like this and no longer has to get off his bike to walk. It was a nice place for me to lay in the shade to wait for Dale as you can see in the photo above.

The photo at the right shows our waypoint, BPR02. Dale carries a water bottle for himself which did not make sense to me until our later rides. You see, there is plenty of water where I can lay down, cool off and get a drink. These are great mud holes but in some of our later rides, they have dried up and Dale carries a "Cool Pooch Water Bottle" for me. You can see from the map that we have put a waypoint where the

  road changes direction or meets an intersection. This is a method to keep us going in the correct direction and gives us a feeling of accomplishment as we meet our next goal. We continue to ride toward BPR03.
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