WC Survived Fisherman Road


On a map, it looks like a nice way to get from Succor Creek Road over to the Owhyee Reservoir in southeastern Oregon. Even on Google Earth it looks pretty straightforward.

Approaching the ridge line on Fisherman Road; in the lower left the road climbs through the cap rock

Approaching the ridge line on Fisherman Road; in the lower left the road climbs through the cap rock

It’s not.

Don’t drive Fisherman Road.

Maybe it was the August 2016 Cherry Road Wildfire, which burnt much of the area that Fisherman Road traverses. After a fire, erosion worsens with no plant life to hold the soil. Maybe it was the unusually high amounts of snow and rain in the Owhyee Mountains this past winter. Maybe the road was laid out and constructed by drunken lunatics. Or maybe WC should listen to Mrs. WC when she says, “Don’t go there.”

The climb through the cap rock – the weather-resistant layer of basalt that crowns most Owhyee mountain ridges – was as gnarly a stretch of road as WC has driven. After climbing through it, WC really, really didn’t want to drive down that rockslide. So we pushed on.

The road crested at a little over 5,000 feet. In the course of about two miles, it then descended to Owhyee Reservoir – excuse WC, Lake Owhyee – at 2,657 feet.

Fisherman Road descends at an average 17% grade on a road chiseled into volcanic tuff and cobbles

Fisherman Road descends at an average 17% grade on a road chiseled into volcanic tuff and cobbles

The last half of the drive involved dodging oil pan-munching rocks on a road only marginally wider than the wheelbase, precipitous ledges, scrambling over washouts and around landslides and a lengthy struggle with gravity. In a Toyota Highlander.

Happily, and unsurprisingly, we did not see another vehicle, not even a four wheeler, the whole way. From time to time, WC could see tracks of other fools who had driven it since the last rainstorm.

It was a cruel and unusual thing to do to Mrs. WC on her birthday. It was an equally cruel thing to do to all-wheel drive Highlander. Happily, there doesn’t seem to be any permanent damages to the vehicle or the marriage. We’ll have to see about WC’s nerves.

They shouldn’t dignify this substandard cow path with the word “road.”

Seriously, don’t drive Fisherman Road.

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