Today Dave, Asher and I met early and drove up for a morning of gravel, VitaminG goodness. It was pretty nippy at around the freezing mark when we started, so each flush of sunshine warmed the body and the soul. We found Muscatatuck as empty as ever, but very chunky. I had forgotten that my headset had previously loosened, and by the end of the main stretch of chunkachunk I had to vigorously hand-tighten it. We made our way through the "not road" and then onto the benign, bucolic roads to the east and SE of the Muscatatuck River. As an added bonus, we hit an early gravel stretch including a bombing downhill and a steady flat spot to warm things up.
|W CR 500S (for future reference. This was under water in mine and Dave's ride around here in April '11)|
After a due east run with some fun rollers, we headed north along the graveled CR200W. At some point I began to see a few narsty orange arrows that looked like cycling Dan Henrys as much as anything, including the pic below. Like last time, the textured 10E/25E/10E run north sheltered us with excellent forest (and "US Marshal Hunting club signs on either side) and a variety of dips and descents. We took a left onto the service road of the Crosley Fish and Wildlife area, with its bombing descent and river run before the green bridge. Just after that, we stopped for our lunch break and soaked in some sunshine and calories before the climb out.
The area south gave us most of our gravel, so our return just north of the river was a combination of bumpy roads and pancake flat river plain runs. The sprightly legs of the eastern stretch gave way to slight headwinds and a bit more road lumps to deal with. Stops were made to jettison layers as the temps slowly rose. It was damn fine.
The previous times in M.NWR I used the same "not road" to exit the area to the south. Several maps include another entrance, W CR200S. We found a similar gate and a way to pass, along with a generally passable route back into the WR, so of course, we took advantage. "not road South" is pretty much grass, this one a more varied combo of gravel, grass, briers, logs, and wily vegetation. At the latter end we found a gazebo overlooking one of the lakes and took advantage to view the lake, some birds and generally chill out. From there at my exhortations, the crew agreed to take another tour of the lake route so I could birdwatch bit, which successfully added a few catches to my list.
My final bird list for the day, based on passive viewing and a few stops:
Sharp-shinned hawk (a 1st)
Northern Shoveler (a 1st)
Tundra Swan (a 1st)
great blue heron 2x
red-tailed hawk 2x
turkey vulture- group munching on a dead 'coon
**innumerable small birds that were quicker than I/eye. The birders with their big 'scops were out at M.NWR