Pacific Crest Trail
& Death Valley
Denis Kertz, ©2009
Day 0: Sun, Sep 06, 2009 - Naperville, IL to Seattle,
My friend Dave
picked me up and drove me to Midway Airport for my 1:30 pm flight on Southwest Airlines
to Seattle. Everything went smoothly and the flight
arrived about 40 minutes early. Because
the flight was early I was able to catch a 4:00 pm Airporter to downtown where
I had already purchased a ticket for $11 rather than spend $30+ for a cab. The downside was that the Airporter didn't go
to the Marriott Waterfront where I had secured a free night using my Marriott
Reward points. Marriott had told me to
get off at the Westin Hotel but the bus driver told me to wait until the last
stop at the Warwick Hotel which was a little closer. From the Warwick I just walked 4-5 blocks west and I
was at the Marriott.
After I checked in
I walked to the King Street Station where I had used Amtrak Express to ship my
bicycle the previous Sunday. This was a
little more expensive than the $50 that Southwest would have charged but it was
much more convenient than hassling with the bike on the plane. I had ridden downtown to Chicago Union
Station last Sunday as part of my Sunday exercise ride to drop off my
bike. Then Amtrak put my bike on the
Chicago-Seattle train on Monday and it arrived in Seattle on Wednesday. That gave me 48 hours to pick it up and then
get charged a storage fee of $3 per day.
However, when I picked up my bike I wasn't charged any storage fee.
Since Amtrak boxes
only require removing pedals and turning the handlebars sideways it was a
simple matter to roll the bike out of the bike box and have it ready to roll in
minutes. After I rode the short distance
back to the Marriott I walked along the waterfront to Miners Landing where I
had clam chowder and chips, an appropriate meal for the locale.
Back at the ranch I
started to pack the bike. However, the
front tire was low when I picked up the bike so I removed the wheel and found a
very slow leak that I patched. Then I
attached the front and rear panniers which were new Arkel XM28 and XM45s so I
had to learn a little bit of new packing style.
These panniers had their own builtin waterproof liners in place of the
garbage disposal bags I used with my old panniers to provide a waterproof
liner. These panniers were also a bit
larger than the old ones although the rear panniers didn't have an outside
pocket which was not as convenient.
I completed the
bulk of the packing and then decided to check my email but was dismayed to
learn that the Marriott charged for in-room Internet access. So I just wrote my daily log and called it a
Day 1: Mon, Sep 07, 2009 - Seattle, WA to Arlington,
WA [61.3, 5:36:00, 10.9 mph,
It was a dreary looking morning when I got up with cloudy
skies and wet grounds. I took my PC down
to the lobby where I could get free Internet access. With the dismal weather I decided to eat
breakfast at the Marriott and found they had a buffet which was very good but
it cost $20 by the time taxes and tip got added in so it should have been
good. I retired to my room and completed
my packing. This mostly involved
deciding where the bits and pieces should go.
Then I had to figure how to use the straps I decided to use this year
rather than bungee cords to hold my sleeping bag and tent on top of my rear
By the time I hit the road it was a little after 9am. I wanted to take Pike St east but I found I couldn't
because it didn't go through. So I
backtracked to the Marriott and took the elevator at Lenora St back up to the street level,
which was the most fun climbing I did all day.
However, I still had a short steep climb to 1st Ave and I was quickly in
my lowest gear with an elevated heart rate.
Then I had to navigate the one way streets to finally end up on Pike St. Then it seemed to take forever to get to 8th Ave
because I missed every light along the way.
After that I was on my way and I picked up Howell St and then Eastlake Ave which took me across Lake Union
on University Bridge, an easy bridge to cross with a
separate bike path.
Just across the bridge I picked up the Burke-Gilman Trail
that skirted around the University
of Washington and past
the football stadium. The trail wound
its way east and then north along the west side of Lake Washington on its way
to its ending in Kenmore at the northern end of Lake
Washington. The trail was
nice riding with its insulation from traffic.
For a dismal day there were a fair number of cyclists, joggers, and some
pedestrians on the path. There were some
views of Lake Washington but most of the time
the view was shielded from the lake by tall hedges that the homeowners along
the lake had grown for privacy. Along
the way I noticed my cyclocomputer was erratic.
I had meant to replace the batterries in both the transmitter and
receiver but had only changed the receiver.
So I hoped it was just a matter of installing a new battery.
I would have been more motivated to change the battery
immediately except I now had a GPS that gave another source of ride data. Previously I had not been interested in a GPS
because they had a reputation for eating batteries but when I started
researching GPS units I discovered that the Garmin 60CSx had comparatively good
battery life and would work 2-3 days on a single AA battery pair. That fact plus the fact that this trip would
involve a number of minor roads, which sometimes aren't well signed, convinced
me to try a GPS on this trip.
When I reached the end of the Burke-Gilman trail in
Kenmore I needed to figure out how to connect with Hwy 9 to Arlington, my day's destination. This is where the GPS really helped. Although the Burke-Gilman trail ended the
bike trail kept on so I stayed on it as long as I could to avoid mixing up with
traffic. Then I picked up the Sammamish
River Trail, which I knew nothing about, and followed it for a ways because my
GPS showed me it was taking me in the right direction. Finally, I had to leave the trail when it veered
southeast. At that point I could have
taken 522 to Hwy 9 except 522 was a freeway and bicycles were prohibited. With my GPS it was a simple matter of heading
further north on several different roads until I reached 228th St SE which I took west
to its intersection with Hwy 9.
Hwy 9 was a major road that went all the way to Arlington. For the most part it had a good shoulder
except for one section where it deteriorated somewhat. There were also some sections under construction
that weren't a problem because no one was working on this Labor Day Monday and
I was able to ride to the right of pylons stationed to keep traffic out of the
When I started riding in the morning the sky was spitting
a few rain drops that never became a significant issue. Around 11:00 the sun actually managed to
fight its way through the clouds occasionally and put in an appearance. However, when I started riding on Hwy 9 the
road was wet and water was draining down the roadway as I climbed
modestly. So I had managed to just miss
a passing rain shower.
Around 12:30 I stopped for my first break at a food mart
in Clearview after over 3 hours of riding.
After resuming riding it was just a matter of grinding out the remaining
miles to Arlington. The road had several long ascents and
descents but no really hard climb. Arlington was the natural
stopping point because the next stage headed east on 530 to Darrington but
Darrington was another 28 miles and I wasn't interested in having a killer ride
on the first day. I stopped at a coffee
shop in Arlington and learned I should have
checked the motel situation in the morning before I left because the nearest
motels were southwest of Arlington
closer to I5.
So I ended up riding about an extra 5 miles that I could
have avoided but they were easy miles.
The first motel wanted over $70 for a night so I passed and found
another motel that was a little more reasonable at $60 and probably about $15 cheaper
than the first possibility. After
cleaning up I walked around scouting out eating possibilities and ended up at a
fast food taco place that was okay.
Back at the ranch I adjusted my GPS position on the
bike. I had a handlebar mount that
didn't work because the arm rest on my aero bars forced the GPS in such an
upright position that it was impossible to see from a riding position. So last night I had duct taped the receptable
that GPS snaps into to the end of my aero bars.
This was much better but still a bit problematic because the end of the
aero bars sloped up at about a 60 degree angle and reflections sometimes made
the GPS difficult to see. So tonight I
duct taped the receptacle to my handlebar stem.
This will probably be a good viewing position but is a bit of a concern
because it is about right underneath my chin where I fear dripping sweat could
be a problem. Time will tell.
Day 2: Tue, Sep 08, 2009 - Arlington, WA to Newhalem,
WA [78.4, 7:18:00, 10.7 mph,
It wasn't a great sleeping night. Something was biting me and I spent a fair
amount of time scratching. I thought
maybe a couple of mosquitoes had managed to set up residence but the top of my
head had a big lump. By evening the
surface was rough and that suggested multiple bites. I guessed maybe bed bugs or a spider.
The motel had a continental breakfast and when I stopped
by at 7:00 I found the attendant sleeping on the couch in the lobby. He woke up when I tried the locked door and
he got up and set up for the breakfast but wasn't sure where everything
was. They had a waffle maker but it
wasn't plugged in so my attempt at a waffle was not a pretty sight but it was
I left a little after 8:00 under clear skies in the low
50s. I retraced the nearly 6 miles back
and then took 530 to Darrington, 28 miles away.
The road passed through a green valley with forested hills, some with
clear cuts. Homes were along the road
and there were a few ranches. There was
a surprisingly amount of traffic and I could only guess that motorists were
using this as a short cut to Hwy 20.
The road started out with a great shoulder and that lasted
about 12 miles when the shoulder mostly disappeared. Shortly there was a sign warning about
cyclists on the road for the next 5 miles.
I was curious why the warning was only for the next 5 miles but after 5
miles there was another warning about cyclists for the next 5 miles. Shortly after the second warning the good
shoulder returned for the rest of the way to Darrington.
I stopped in Darrington for some food a little before noon
and then I did my first grocery shopping of the trip. Leaving Darrington Hwy 530 turned abruptly
north as it followed the Sauk River. The road cut through heavy forest and was a
pleasant ride with much less traffic than in the morning. At the intersection with Hwy 20 there was a
food mart in Rockport and I stopped for another break.
It was another 9 miles to Marblemount with Hwy 20
following along the scenic Skagit
River. I thought Marblemount would be my destination
but it was only 3:30 so I pushed on to Newhalem where there were a couple of
campgrounds. It was another 14 miles but
still fairly flat with not much climbing.
When I reach Marblemount it was just after 5:00 and I was
tempted push on but the next campground was another 11 miles with some
significant climbing. Since I had
already ridden almost 80 miles I decided to call it a day and camped at the
Newhalem Creek Campground. I got an OK
campsite for $12.
During the day's ride I discovered that the new location
of my GPS on my stem still wasn't that great.
However, I realized I had an easy solution. I had my cyclocomputer mounted on the side of
my aero bar and I realized I could locate my GPS there and I could move the
cyclocomputer to the handlebar. So after
I got set up in camp I made that switch and figured that would work well.
By 8:00 I discovered I was really tired and gave up on the
thought of doing some reading since I knew I would be fighting sleep. So I didn't bother to fight and just went to
Day 3: Wed, Sep 09, 2009 - Newhalem, WA to Mazama,
WA [66.2, 8:40:00, 7.6 mph,
I slept pretty well and didn't get up until 6:30, a little
over 10 hours of sleep. However, when I
woke up I discovered I had a swollen lower right jaw and the right top of my
head felt like it was covered with blisters.
This was all courtesy of whatever bit me the night before in my motel.
It had drizzled a little overnight but my tent was under a
pine tree so it barely got wet. I packed
up and headed into town hoping to get milk from the grocery store but it didn't
open until 10am. However, it had an
overhang with a long bench so I ate my cereal breakfast there.
I left a little after 8:00 and immediately started
climbing. This area generates
hydroelectric power for the Seattle
area and Newhalem is a town for the employees of Seattle City Light. The hydroelectric power is generated by three
dams – Gorge, Diablo, and Ross. Gorge
Dam was the first along the way and I stopped at a viewpoint for a better view
but only walked part of the way along the overlook trail. Climbing continued on the way to Diablo
Dam. There was a view of the dam but an
even better view of Diablo
Lake ahead. This required a descent to skirt a tail of
the lake and then a climb to reclaim the lost altitude on the other side of the
tail. During the climb it started
drizzling again but graciously stopped just as I turned into the overlook and
the clouds broke in several spots to let the sun make an appearance.
After Diablo Lake there was a distant view of Ross Lake
which extends 24 miles north to the Canadian border. Unfortunately, at the same time it started
drizzling again. From the view of Ross Lake
the road started its climb to Rainy Pass and Washington
Pass. Most of this climbing was pretty steep,
ascending 4,200 feet over 23 miles. And
it started drizzling again off and on.
It was drizzling pretty steadily when I reached Rainy Pass,
which might be expected given its name.
There was a picnic area at the pass that I pulled into at 3:30 because I
needed a rest and I hoped the drizzle might pass on.
After about a 20 minute rest the drizzling seemed to have
stopped and I took off again on the 4 mile stretch to Washington Pass. Of course it started drizzling again. There was an initial descent from Rainy Pass
and then a pretty steep climb for 2 miles.
Fortunately, the last mile eased off quite a bit so the climb to Washington Pass
was much easier overall than the climb
to Rainy Pass, which accounted for most of the
elevation gain. Just as I neared the
pass the sky cleared up some and admitted sunshine. I thought I was going to see a repeat of my
1994 tour where the sky magically cleared up on the east side of the pass but
there was no magic this year.
There was some drizzle as I headed down the steep pass
just after 5:00. With the wet road I
continually modulated my brakes to keep the bike under control. I barely had to pedal the 22 miles to Mazama
but I didn't enjoy the descent all that much.
I was fairly wet from the on and off drizzle through the day and the 20
mph descent didn't help although it did mostly dry me off by the time I made
I was mostly interested in food in Mazama but the grocery
store was already closed when I arrived around 6:00. There was an Inn
that advertised barbeque on Wednesday evening so I headed there. The food smelled tantalizing to a starved
cyclist but the cook was somewhat overloaded.
The waitress warned there would be a 15-20 minute delay but I didn't
have any option if I wanted real food.
She also didn't tell me about the additional delay due to a slow
waitress. I was pretty sure when the
cook was done with my sirloin burger and the cook commented to me later while I
was still waiting about how the waitresses couldn't keep up with his
It was about 7:30 when I left, having spent well over an
hour waiting to eat, and I had to scramble to get a campsite. I backtracked up the road several miles to
the Early Winters National Forest Campground ($8) and set up just as daylight
During the day I saw a number of cyclists. While I was eating breakfast I saw 5 cyclists
ride by in two bunches and another 4 cyclists as I climbed to Gorge Dam. They all appeared to be with a group and were
traveling light with only a trunk bag. I
wondered if Adventure Cycling was running a tour. Later I met two cyclists at the Diablo Lake
Overlook and I thought they were with the same group but they were riding by
themselves. On the long climb to Rainy Pass
I met two groups of two cyclists carrying nothing. The last two chatted with me briefly and said
they had a support van and I saw a support van stop for the first two. Finally, I met a lone touring cyclist with
everything loaded on his rear. He passed
me on a break and then I followed for a while until he stopped for a break and
I never saw him again.
Overall, this was a hard day with all of the climbing and
the drizzling in the afternoon made it a bit miserable at times.
Day 4: Thu, Sep 10, 2009 - Mazama, WA to Pateros,
WA [62.9, 6:10:00, 10.2 mph,
I was up early, ate a cup of cereal for a quick breakfast
and was on the road by 7:00. It was an
easy 15 mile ride to Winthrop
on a slightly downhill road, passing kids out waiting for the school bus. It was clear skies and the most notable
characteristic was brown hills with some sagebrush and scattered evergreens in
the Methow Valley. This contrasted with the green west side of
I stopped at the same place for breakfast that I had in 1994. I had their 3 pancakes which were the best and
worst of the trip, because they were the first pancakes of the trip. The pancakes were actually very good and very
sizeable. The only complaint I could
make was the $2 per pancake average.
Actually it was $3 for the first pancake, another $1 for the second,
and, inexplicably, $2 more for the third.
The biggest complaint was that service was slow and I chalked that up to
having little if any breakfast competition.
After breakfast I did a little grocery shopping and was on
my way around 10:00. It was another 8
easy miles to Twisp and then another couple of miles where I veered right on to
Hwy 153. Up to that point I had
previously ridden everything from Marblemount to here.
I enjoyed the scenic Methow Valley
with its contrasting colors of brown hills and irrigated green fields. Also a contrast was the bright sunshine and
few clouds. As the day wore on, it got
warmer and reached about 80F. There were
two very small towns before Pateros. The
second town had a cafe with a bunch of bicycles parked outside. I wasn't ready to stop so I continued on but
I didn't recognize any of the bicycles from yesterday. Later a group of 6 cyclists blew past me but
I thought I saw 8 bicycles earlier.
Sometime later two more cyclists caught me just as I pulled into
Pateros, where the Methow River joined with the Columbia
Initially I was planning to ride to Chelan
Falls but I was already at 60 miles
and Chelan Falls was another 20 miles. I decided not to push it the day after a hard
day even though my legs felt fine. I
rode the short way into town from the intersection of 153 and 197 to a food
mart. After a bite to eat I decided to
find a coffee shop with Internet access.
I was told there was access at a bakery next door to the Homestead across the street
so I went there. However, I couldn't see
the bakery since I came in the back way and went into the Homestead which also had a coffee shop. Still unaware of the coffee shop next door I
plugged in and actually used the coffee shop's Internet access. I could tell because the name of the WIFI was
the name I saw on the bakery when I finally left.
I caught up with my email and responded to a work issue
that a colleague requested assistance on.
I did my best to respond in email on an issue that was going to require
further investigation by someone else. I
wrapped up my session by 5:00 and had planned to stop at a Subway for a
sandwich to take to the nearby Alta Lake State Park when I discovered the
Subway sign I saw was not a Subway but a sign saying a Subway was 7 miles down
the road. I like Subway but not enough
for a 14 mile roundtrip so I went back to the food mart and got a couple of
burritos and egg rolls to take to the park.
The park was about a mile backtracking and then 2 miles
off the road but a mile of that was a steep climb. The campground was fairly decent but rather
exorbitantly priced at $19. Then to rub
salt in a wound they charged for a shower.
The charge was only $0.50 but at $19 it should have been part of the
fee. Anyway it was nice to have a shower
for the first time in 3 days.
Afterwards I did a little bike maintenance. My brakes needed adjustment and then I worked
on my cyclocomputer. Once again my VDO
C3 wireless computer had behaved haphazardly for the last 2 days. With my GPS I didn't really need the
cyclocomputer but still it was nice to have.
Fortunately, I had a spare cyclocomputer of the same model with me so I
switched out the receiver/display unit to see if that might fix the problem. Tomorrow will tell.
Day 5: Fri, Sep 11, 2009 - Pateros,
WA to Monitor, WA [72.0, 6:33:00,
11.0 mph, 2,214']
I left the park around 7:00 and headed back to town. It was about 4 miles and I descended about
400', most of that was over a little less than a mile of the turnoff from
97. I went back to the Super Stop which
also had a restaurant and had their 3 pancakes.
They weren't quite as good as yesterday but they were almost $2
cheaper. One of the other patrons told
me I had just missed a bunch of cyclists which obviously was the group I met
I left about 8:30 on Hwy 97 which followed along the Columbia River.
The Columbia River was wide and placid
for the most part since there were a couple of dams along the way for
generating electricity. I took a short
turnoff just outside town, Starr
Road, which lasted about 4 miles and then rejoined
97. The views along the river were
great, particularly in the morning when the road was higher and the river more
There were large, mostly barren, hills on both sides of the river with orchards
along most of the way. 97 was a major
road and pretty busy but it had a good shoulder for the most part.
When I got near Chalen after about 20 miles a signed
warned that 97 was closed and 97A had to be used instead. I was a bit tempted to ride 97 anyway but it
would have been a gamble that I could get through on a bicycle and a wasted 10
miles roundtrip if the gamble failed so I passed. Instead I had a good, fairly steep, 1 mile
climb to get to Chalen which also gave me a view of Lake Chalen.
I stopped in town for a second cereal
breakfast and then inquired of a local how to get to 97, which required
crossing a bridge to get to the other side of the river. That's when I learned that the problem was
someone ran into the bridge with a truck and the bridge was closed, even to
Instead, I got to see Lake Chalen
where Chalen means deep water. Lake Chalen
also extended some 55 miles with a daily boat ride that ran to the end and
returned. If I had been looking for a
rest day I would have been interested in that trip. Instead I rode along the side of Lake Chalen
for a few miles before the road was able to bend around a large hill and
descend back to river level. This led to
a 3 mile descent including passage through a tunnel with a bicycle warning
signal. The tunnel really wasn't an
issue because it was pretty short and descending downhill made the passage
The rest of the way to Wenatchee was not as nice scenery wise as the
morning. It was also quite a bit hotter
with temps reaching into the 80s. When I
stopped in Entiat I removed my tights. I
kept my long sleeve nylon RailRiders shirt on because it offered sun
protection. Most of the way was either
flat or slightly downhill so I made good time and rolled into the Wenatchee area around
was just south of my route but I needed to find Internet access because of the
work issue I was trying to help with.
That meant I had to ride through town on a 4-lane busy road that had
essentially no shoulder, which was not fun.
I rode several miles without seeing anything looking like a coffee shop
with WiFi so I stopped at a little coffee hut and got directions to a place
called Tastebuds that offered free WiFi.
Unfortunately, I couldn't get connected but got directed to a Coffee
Cabin that I had passed a couple blocks back without noticing. It worked fine and I did the best I could
with the work issue.
By the time I left it was near 6:00. I didn't feel like challenging rush hour
traffic on the 4-lane road so I rode the sidewalk back most of the way and then
picked up 2/97 west. I was looking for a
Wenatchee Country Park
that my guide book suggested was a good place for camping. It also said it was a mile outside town so I
got a bad feeling when I went several miles without any sign for it or the town
called Monitor. Later I discovered I
misread my guide and the 1 I saw was a designation for campground #1 in the
particular trail section, not 1 mile as I had interpreted it. Eventually, I saw a sign for the park but
where the sign showed an RV and a tent and the tent was crossed out. When I got to the park I met the proprietor
who said they had stopped offering tent sites last year. He was very reasonable about it and then
started thinking about alternative camping places but the problem was it was
already after 7:00 which didn't leave much time for further travel on a
bicycle. He finally said he wouldn't
object if I discreetly camped on the picnic side of the area away from the RVs
but he cautioned me about the automatic sprinklers and gave me the sprinkler
times. I noticed a picnic site with an
overhang and asked if I could pitch my tent under the overhang to avoid the
sprinkler. He offered that he wouldn't
have any problem if I just threw my sleeping bag down there without a tent,
which was fine with me once I learned mosquitoes weren't an issue.
Finally, to be further discrete about all of this he
suggested waiting until dark so I wandered off to a nearby burger joint to get
something to eat and kill time until dark.
I had a buffalo burger that pretty much tasted like a regular burger and
then I got my PC out on the outside picnic tables and wrote my notes for the
day. Then I rode back in the dark to the
RV park and set up under the park overhang.
Day 6: Sat, Sep 12, 2009 - Monitor, WA to Ellensburg, WA
[70.4, 8:06, 8.7 mph, 3,375']
It wasn't a great night for sleeping. Hwy 2 ran along the side of the RV park and
there was traffic all night and then there was a train that wasn't that close
but still made plenty of noise. I woke
at 6:00 and packed up quickly to get out of the RV park as quickly as
possible. Packing was easy since my
panniers were still on the bike and I only had to wrap up my sleeping pad and
bag and pack a few things. I was gone by
There wasn't anything for breakfast in Monitor so I rode
to the next town, Cashmere, a nice quiet town
with the downtown a half mile away from the highway. I found a bar open for breakfast so I ate
there and had french toast and bacon since pancakes weren't on the menu. Then I did a little grocery shopping before
heading out on Hwy 2 again.
It was about 13 miles of gradual uphill to the turnoff
where Hwy 97 headed south. I was glad to
get off Hwy 2, a major 4-lane road with noisy, high-speed traffic. Hwy 97 was also a major road but only 2-lane
and traffic was not quite as fast so it was an improvement over Hwy 2.
It was about 21 miles to Blewett
Pass, which my guide book called Sauk Pass. At 4,100 feet the pass required about 3,000
feet of climbing. A good part of the way
I climbed at 6-7 mph which wasn't too bad.
About a third of the way there was a lodge with a convenience store so I
stopped at the only place on the way to the pass for my cereal breakfast. At the start of this climb, there were still
orchards and fruit stands but as the road climbed they got left behind and the
road climbed through a forest. The last
few miles were pretty hard at 4-5 mph and seemed to take forever but I finally
crested the pass about 1:30.
It was a fast initial descent in the 30+ mph and then a
more leisure 18-20 mph for 15 miles. It
was quite warm again in the early afternoon and I stopped at a restaurant that
had a soda machine outside for a welcome cold drink. There was a campground across the road where
I hoped to get some cool/cold water but I found no water supply. I also learned that the campground would
close tomorrow for the season which seemed a little odd since the weather
should still be reasonable for a while.
A little further 97 split off to the left and began a
fairly hard 2.5 mile climb. From there, my guide book claimed it was a 13
mile coast into Ellensburg but when the guide book author rode this route he
said they had a terrific tailwind that allowed them to ride into town at 35
mph. Obviously that tailwind confused
him because it wasn't a coast into town although it was relatively easy
I knew KOA was apparently the only camping option around
Ellensburg but I headed into Ellensburg first and got a cold drink. Then I rode back towards the Interstate to
find the KOA. I also found a Subway and
ate at my first Subway of the trip. I
had to search for the KOA because it was on the other side of the Interstate. KOA wanted $28 for a tent site which was a
lousy deal. I'm pretty sure I could have
gotten a motel in Ellensburg for not a whole lot more but I doubted I would get
WiFi so I stayed with KOA for that reason only.
The tent site was pretty lousy with the sites just packed together
side-by-side with no privacy unless you were in the tent.
I cleaned up and headed to the Laundromat where I was able
to plug in my PC and access the Internet.
I was also able to plug in my battery charger and recharge a few of my
batteries, which is always a good idea with both my GPS and camera using 2 AA
batteries. My camera lasts for days on a
set but the GPS goes only about 2 days on a set so it is much more demanding
Day 7: Sun, Sep 13, 2009 - Ellensburg, WA to Yakima,
WA [42.5, 4:02:00, 10.5 mph,
I packed up and headed into town for breakfast. I went all the way through town on what I
think was 8th St
and found nothing so I turned around. On
the way back I could see street signs because I wasn't staring into the
blinding morning sun so when I saw Main
St I took it.
I was sure I would find something downtown but I didn't. I continued through downtown and eventually
gave up and stopped at a McDonald's.
That wasn't so bad since I was planning a relatively easy day and didn't
need a great breakfast.
When I left I continued on Main
and just a little further when I passed by I82 I found the breakfast
places. Main turned into Canyon Road that
passed through the very scenic Yakima
Canyon for about 25
miles. The road followed the Yakima River that wound its way through steep, close in
sun burnt hills on both sides of the river. Because I82 was a more direct route to Yakima it took a lot of
the traffic that might otherwise have passed through the canyon. The road was fairly flat with a couple of
relatively short hills. It offered some
of the best scenery of the trip so far.
After passing through the canyon I caught I82 into Yakima which wasn't on
the PCT route but I had decided to make this a short day and stay in a
motel. It was about 5 miles on I82 when
I took the 1st Ave
exit where there were a lot of motels.
The first motel I stopped at advertised $30 rooms but had no WiFi and
the proprietor didn't know what it was.
I thought the next motel at $36 would have it but didn't. A little further I found a $40 motel with
WiFi but the room was prettty ordinary.
After settling in I strolled down the street a bit. I needed some cash so I stopped at a Wells
Fargo but they charged a $3 service fee so I cancelled. Another bank was no better. When I just happened down another street I
found a Chase Bank, which I didn't see in the telephone book, most likely
because Chase had only recently acquired Washington Mutual and the telephone
book still listed the bank as Washington Mutual. Anyway, a $0 service fee sounded a lot better
than $3 so I got my cash infusion.
By this time in mid afternoon it was very warm with signs
showing mid 90s. The days are projected
to stay warm for at least several more days and this is about 20F warmer than I
would prefer for touring. As luck would
have it there was a Subway less than a block away so I ate at a Subway for a
second consecutive day.
Day 8: Mon, Sep 14, 2009 - Yakima, WA to Rimrock
Lake, WA [49.2,
6:22:41, 7.7 mph, 2,885']
I ate at a diner just a couple blocks down the road from
my motel. I had their bacon/egg/pancake
special and it was okay. Leaving town
was fairly easy. I looked at google maps
and saw there was a Powerhouse
Road that would take me to Hwy 12 and then the Old Naches Highway. So I road from the diner to Lincoln Ave and then
to 24th Ave
where I picked up Powerhouse. There
wasn't that much traffic and this was an easy route. I did have the excitement of seeing an
accident peripherally in the other direction.
It looked like an SUV must have been about to rear end another SUV so it
swerved off the side of the road and banged into a curb. That created a racket and bounced the SUV
around but it looked like the SUV managed to avoid hitting the other vehicle.
When I got to Hwy 12 I could have stayed on it and that
would have been the most direct route to Naches but it was a 4-lane divided
highway so I stuck with the Old
Naches Highway which climbed some up into the side
of the hill in the Naches
River Valley. From a higher vantage point it looked like
everything in the valley was either an orchard or a vineyard. Old Naches
Highway wound around quite a bit before descending
back down to the town of Naches
where I stopped at a food mart for a break after about 18 miles.
It was 70F in Yakima
in the morning and it was somewhat warmer when I stopped with a lot of
sun. When I resumed I rode on Hwy 12
which was only a 2-lane road now. I had
been gradually climbing all morning but in a few miles Hwy 12 turned due south
and began the climb to White Pass although
most of the climbing was gradual. There
was also a fair headwind which helped keep temperatures at bay.
The highway followed the Tieton River
which was a rushing river and the focus of a lot of raft trips. The route was scenic with hills filled with
trees unlike the Yakima
Canyon which was mostly
treeless. I had to wait for a short
while for road construction at one point but was fortunate that I didn't pass
through a little later when they were planning some 30 minute delays. There were a couple mini stores along the way
where I was able to get a cold drink although the fair headwind was keeping the
temps reasonably comfortable.
Finally I reached the Tieton Dam which was finished in
1925 and was the largest earth filled dam at the time. The Dam formed the 6-mile long Rimrock Lake
where I planned to stay and put off the climb to White
Pass until tomorrow. There
was supposed to be a couple eating places and campgrounds along the lake but I
didn't find any eating place until the last campground. There was also a National Forest CG next door
but it was closed for the season so I stayed at the private campground for
$17. The campground also had a small
restaurant so I ate there as well. While
I was around I saw only one other restaurant customer and I was the only tenter
in the campground so it was a quiet place to stay for the evening.
Day 9: Tue, Sep 15, 2009 - Rimrock
Lake, WA to Iron
Creek CG (Randle), WA [58.7, 5:47:26, 10.1 mph, 1,934']
There were no breakfast options other than what I carried
with me so I ate my usual cereal breakfast and took off around 8:00. The road immediately started its final climb
to White Pass, nine miles away. It was a steep climb and a couple miles of
the road was cut into the side of a rock wall.
The wall was so steep that rock fences were installed up to 6 feet high
to protect the road from falling rocks.
The left side of the road was a continuous guardrail because you didn't
want anyone to go over the steep edge.
After 7 miles there was a scenic overlook with a great
view looking back at the lake in the distance along with a water fall
nearby. After this overlook the road
pretty well leveled off for the next 2 miles and only a short final climb
remained at the end to achieve White Pass at
4,500 feet. Before the pass there was a
campground at scenic Dog Lake that appeared to be very popular and the lake
itself was bordered by trees and a rock
The descent was swift with some nice views. Then without warning I turned a corner and
was hit with the majestic Mt Ranier thrusting into the sky. There were several other viewpoints along the
descent but this one was the best because it was at the highest elevation. The road continued its descent all the way to
the town of Packwood,
a small town with several motels that obviously catered to the national park
I stopped in Packwood for a break and did some grocery
shopping since I was about to head out into an area with essentially no
services after I reached Randle, 15 miles away.
It was an easy ride to Randle which was an even smaller town than
Packwood. There was a ranger station
there so I stopped to inquire about my route.
I was told all National Forest campgrounds in the area were closed for
the season but I was surprised to be told that I could still use them.
From Randle it was 10 miles to the next campground and the
only one for quite a ways. I would have
liked to have put in more miles for the day but the Iron Creek CG location
pretty well decided my destination. I
turned off of Hwy 12 and took Forest Road 25 which had no shoulder but didn't
need one since there was almost no traffic.
There was an initial steep climb of about a mile and it was cool to be
on a road with such little traffic – literally.
The tree and foliage was so dense with tree limbs hanging over the roadway
that much of the sun was blocked from getting through and that was a good
thing. In the sun it was very warm in
the early afternoon and in the shade it was nice and comfortable.
When I stopped at the Iron Creek CG it was blocked by an
iron gate that was just high enough that my bike fit under it. This was a large campground with 98 sites so
the biggest problem was picking one when you had the pick of the litter. There were 4 loops and I picked the last
loop. I discovered that there was still
water in the campground and the only thing missing was the pit toilets which
were locked. A campsite normally cost
$18 so I figured I would gladly give up the pit toilet to save $18.
Since I got in before 4:00 I had plenty of time after
eating. I spent the time reviewing
tomorrow's route. The big issue was
there was a turnoff to the Windy Ridge Viewpoint to give a really good view of
Mt St Helens but the cost was considerable climbing and a 32 mile roundtrip. There was also a Bear Meadow Viewpoint that
was only a 10 mile roundtrip but it still required 1,000 feet of climbing on
top of the climb to Elk
Pass that required about
3,000 feet of climbing from the campground.
After re-reading this route section in my guide book I notice the guide
pointed out a couple of other Mt St Helens views along the regular route. Then there was also the matter of some gravel
road later in the route. When I looked
at my map I noticed that Forest Road 30 was all paved south to the Columbia River and looked like it might be a better route
than the one in the guide book. This
route required riding along the Columbia River on Hwy 14 to Hood River
and the guide book had a note that Hwy 14 was not recommended for cycling,
which is why I assume the guide didn't use the FR30 route to the Columbia River.
However, I cycled that Hwy 14 stretch as part of my Lewis & Clark
route and didn't have a problem with it.
So my inclination was to avoid the gravel road on my way to Hood River
where I planned a rest day.
Later, as I was getting settled in my tent a ranger pulled
up and asked me what part of [campground] closed didn't I understand. When I explained to him that the ranger at
the Randle station said it was okay for me to camp here even though it was
closed he was mollified. And he felt
better when I told him I was just passing through. They were still in the process of shutting
down the campground, which was why the water was still on, and he didn't want
anyone hanging around to interfere with their cleanup activities.
Day 10: Wed, Sep 16, 2009 - Iron Creek CG (Randle), WA to Home Valley, WA
[81.1, 9:37:24, 8.4 mph, 5,124']
I packed up, ate breakfast, and was on the road before
8:00. Immediately I started some serious
climbing, steeper than anything before and I was climbing slower than 4 mph and
even dropped below 3 mph a couple of times.
The good news was it was a little cloudy and the sun didn't shine
through so it was comfortably cool.
Yesterday I noticed several ugly clearcuts on my ride out of Randle and
today a clearcut actually turned out to be useful. As I rode around a bend where there had been
clearcutting I got a clear view of Mt Ranier on my right. I'm pretty sure that without the clearcut the
view would have been hidden.
I climbed steeply for a couple of hours and passed by the
turnoff to Windy Ridge for the best Mt St Helens view. Interestingly, when I reached Elk Pass
at 3,960 feet I didn't even see a sign for the pass. Shortly I started a steep descent for 6 miles
that I could let go pretty well since the road was well paved although I had to
do some braking since it was also curvy.
Then I reached the Clearwater
viewpoint where Mt St Helens was almost totally visible except for some cloud
cover at the peak. Fortunately, for a
few minutes the cloud cover almost completely disappeared for a good view and
then it came back and stayed the rest of the day. There was also a large, scenic valley
immediately to the northwest with new tree growth. When the eruption occurred in 1980 this
entire valley was laid to waste and that would have been something to see. But now after almost 30 years the valley was
The descent continued the rest of the way to the Swift
Reservoir and the junction with FR 90 but it was a modest descent with easy
pedaling. At that point I had covered 37
miles and a sign gave 38 miles to Carson which
was near Hwy 14 and on the way to Hood
River, my eventual
destination. Since it was only 1:00,
that gave me some hope that I could still make Hood River
with a long day.
I rode a few miles on FR 50, passing a small, closed store
at a closed campground and then I turned right on Curly Creek Rd and started another steep
climb that was even steeper than the morning's climb. This one lasted about 4 miles and I could
barely maintain 3 mph and dropped below that for a while. It was a really hard climb and left Hood River
in doubt. Near the top the McClellan
viewpoint provided another really fine view of Mt St Helens, still shrouded in
cloud cover at the top.
Another mile of not quite so difficult climbing brought me
to the intersection of FR 30 and 26 miles to Carson.
Since I was at almost 3,000 feet and needed to get down to the Columbia River I was pretty sure I would be doing a lot
of descending. But first I had to climb
fairly steeply for about another mile and then the descent began. Unfortunately, the road was a little bumpy
and more curvy than the earlier descent so I had to be a little careful. In fact, a couple of times small bumps
dislodged my GPS from its “holder” and I would have lost the GPS except I had a
rubber band around the holder and GPS since I knew the holder really was
After about 5 miles of fairly steep descent the rest of
the way was modest descending with mostly easy pedaling. The only question was whether I would have
enough time to make Hood
River. When I rolled into Carson
at about 5:30 I was told it was still 25 miles to Hood River
although I didn't really believe that.
Still, I knew I would be pushing daylight plus it was clouding up and
looking like it could rain. So I started
looked for alternative lodging possibilities.
I saw some cottages that looked like they might be reasonable but the
asking priced was $80 so I asked about camping.
I was told there was camping on Hwy 14 just a mile down the road. So I rode a little further to Home Valley
and saw the sign for the campground.
There was also a small grocery store where the guy told me it was 16
miles to Hood River.
I was sure I could make Hood
River but I figured I would be
arriving as darkness was settling in and I didn't like the idea of riding
across the Columbia River bridge under those
circumstances nor having to hunt for a motel in an unfamiliar locale. Plus it still looked like it could rain. So I exercised better judgment and went for
the Home Valley County Park CG where I got a site for $15. It was pretty decent since I was on a corner
“lot” right next to the Columbia River. On the other hand, the campground was right
next to Hwy 14 and a railroad track so it promised to be a fairly noisy night.
Day 11: Thu, Sep 17, 2009 - Home Valley, WA to Hood River,
OR [16.5, 1:31:43, 10.8 mph,
I slept reasonably well given all the noise. I actually had to sleep through 2 trains
because there was a railroad on each side of the Columbia
River. In the morning I
rode back to the small grocery store for my cereal breakfast and was on the
road before 8:00.
I quickly realized why my guide book didn't recommend
riding on Hwy 14. The railroad was
squeezed in between the highway and the river and with precious little real
estate available the shoulder lost the battle.
In places the shoulder was okay but even then there was usually a guard
rail between the shoulder and the railroad tracks so the nominal shoulder was
effectively less wide than normal since you couldn't ride at the shoulder
edge. Then there were sections where
there was no shoulder and you had to ride inside the white line. Fortunately, there wasn't that much traffic
most of the way until close to Hood
River. In addition to the little or non-existent
shoulder there were 5 tunnels. However,
the tunnels were no big deal. The
longest was about the length of a football field. Each tunnel had a flashing light for a
cyclist to activate to warn motorists that a bicycle was passing through the
tunnel. Even better, it was almost
always possible to check for traffic and wait to proceed after all visible
traffic was gone.
It was a good thing to have decided not to try to make Hood River
last night. First, with the cloudy
conditions visibility was less and that wouldn't have been a good thing with
the lack of shoulder. Second, I would
have been rushing to make Hood
River before darkness and
wouldn't have been able to observe any of the scenery. Today was a planned rest day in Hood River
so there was no hurry to get to town. So
there was time to watch the two fisherman catching fish using a net from a
small boat and to watch the windsurfers near Hood River. Hood
River is known for its
predictable winds and is considered the windsurfing capital. There were several windsurfers out around
8:30, zipping along the river with the fairly strong wind.
Just before the bridge to Hood River
there was an Information Booth that opened just when I got there. Then I learned that bicycles were not allowed
on the bridge and that I would have to hitch a ride. The woman at the booth said it was easy to
get a ride – just wave a dollar bill and someone would stop and pick you up in
no time. That wasn't quite true. I waited at least 20 minutes to get a
ride. Of course, not every vehicle had
room to take my loaded bike so I tried to solicit rides from pickups. A couple of vans stopped and offered a ride
but I would have had to remove my panniers to fit so I waited for a better
vehicle. Despite the vehicle constraint
a number of pickups passed by without stopping.
However, the good thing was that the guy who stopped had a van and was
pulling a trailer. And the best thing
was the trailer was one used for transporting lawn service gear and the rear
gate folded down to create a ramp. This
was a really good thing. My 90 pound
bike is a real pain to lift into a pickup bed with tail gate down but with this
trailer I was able to simply roll my bike onto the trailer. I gave the driver $2 to pay for toll although
he was willing to give me a ride for nothing but the money was well worth it to
Riding across the bridge it was obvious why bicycles were
not allowed. The bridge was extremely
narrow with an iron grate floor. It
would have been impossible to ride a bicycle across without holding everyone up
behind unless the other lane was totally open for passing. There just was no way that 2 vehicles and a
bicycle could exist side-by-side on that bridge so I wouldn't have wanted to
ride across the bridge even if allowed.
Once across the bridge the driver dropped me off on Oak St which was
the main downtown street so that was perfect.
I did some store browsing and then used my PC in a coffee shop to
research motels. It is really nice to be
able to use google maps to find motels and see where the motels are
located. In this case they were located
mostly along Oak St,
a couple hotels right downtown and then the motels further out. I rode out to where 3 motels were closely located. The first one, an ordinary looking motel,
wanted $55 for a room. I quickly learned
that the others were in the $80-90 range so I picked the $55 room.
This room had WiFi but I found I couldn't get
connected. Eventually the proprietress
contacted a help desk for this service and I learned that my Linux system was
not compatible with this particular TP-Link system. Then I remembered I ran into a similar
situation in a motel in Iowa
last fall and the help desk said I had to configure my PC with a static IP
rather than a dynamic IP using DHCP. The
help desk gave me the pertinent DNS and IP addresses. At first I couldn't get that to work but
finally I got connected only to find that the signal was too weak to work. However, that seemed strange since my WiFi
finder on the PC seemed to indicate that the signal was strong enough so I'm
not sure this connection was correctly established.
Eventually I gave up and walked the 10-15 minutes to
downtown. Last night my Thermarest had
developed a bubble in it that suggested it was just a matter of time before it
failed. This was not too surprising
since I've had this Thermarest for many years and it's surprising it lasted
this long. I found another Thermarest of
the same size that was lighter and packed smaller that listed for $75 but was
only $54 because it was an older model so I was probably fortunate to get
that. When I got back to the motel I
went off and did a load of laundry. Then
I walked back downtown again with my PC.
I hadn't eaten since breakfast so I had a mongo wet burrito at a burrito
place that was a mouthful. Then I walked
a couple of blocks to a coffee place where I was able to connect to their WiFi
and check email and what not and then retired to my motel for the night.
Day 12: Fri, Sep 18, 2009 - Hood River, OR to Clear Lake
CG, OR [55.4,
7:38:16, 7.2 mph, 4,846']
There was a Eggceptional Cafe right across the street from
my motel so I ate there – bacon, eggs, and pancakes and the pancakes were very
good. After packing up I rode down the street
and did some grocery shopping. That's
just what I needed – more weight. My
day's route started at 13th
street outside my motel and immediately climbed
steeply. My guide book warned that it
might be necessary to push the bike but that was a strange comment. This part wasn't as steep as Curly Creek Rd and
it was steep only for a couple blocks so it was not a problem.
Street changed into 12th Street and then Tucker Rd or
281. I rode that all the way to Parkdale
to avoid the main highway. Other than
one descent it was mostly climbing as I needed to get from virtually sea level
to 4,600 feet on my way towards Mt Hood.
There were several good views of Mt Hood along the way
and more orchards and some alpacas at a farm.
After close to 20 miles I rode into the small town of Parkdale that had a nice grocery store and I
had my second breakfast around 11:00.
From Parkdale it was a short ride back to the main
highway, 35, and onward towards Mt Hood.
I still had over 2,500 feet of climbing.
It was a mixture of hard climbing and some not so hard climbing. The 16 miles to the pass at 4,670 feet took
quite a while at 4-6 mph. After the pass
it was mostly a 7 mile descent to the intersection with Hwy 26, which I rode up
last year. I had thought the
intersection would essentially be the end of the ride but I misjudged how close
Government Camp was, where I camped nearby last year. Eventually I realized it was a few miles in
the wrong direction so I gave up on Government Camp and headed south on Hwy
26. Traffic was a bear on Hwy 26 – very
heavy and noisy. I wasn't sure if this
was typical traffic or Friday evening “get out of town” traffic.
Shortly there was a food mart where I was able to get a
refreshing drink. From there it was a
few miles to Frog
which apparently was closed since I saw no sign for it. By this time it was after 5:00 and I was
getting worried about closed campgrounds and camping availability on a Friday
evening. Clear Lake CG was the next possibility just a few miles
further but I had to turn off on FR 2660.
I immediately started descending which was worrisome because I didn't
want to have to descend for almost a mile just to find a closed campground. But a closed campground was what I found,
except it wasn't really closed. I found
all the signs were covered but there were other folks in the campground. The only problem was that the water was
turned off – the lever on the water pump was removed. Otherwise, it was a nice spot on a small
lake. I got a premium site that would
have cost $18 normally. As it turned out
I had just enough time to set up, eat, clean up, and write my notes before
darkness settled in.
Day 13: Sat, Sep 19, 2009 - Clear Lake CG, OR to Detroit,
OR [65.7, 7:04:28, 9.4 mph,
I ate breakfast and then used my water purifier to fill my
water bottles. I was down to my last
bottle and wasn't sure where I would find good water next so I used the
purifier. I left before 8:00 under
overcast skies. The weather prediction a
few days ago was for some Saturday showers.
I rode uphill back to the main highway, almost 2
miles. It was another couple miles to my
turnoff on FR 42, also known as Skyline
Shortly there was a campground board that gave the status of area
campgrounds. The only ones open were a
cluster of 3 at the far end of Timothy Lake, about 8 miles from Hwy 26 so I
would have had to travel a ways last night to find a truly open campground if I
had not taken the turnoff to Clear Lake CG.
Just before Timothy
Lake there was a sign for
the Pacific Crest Trail. So I rode my
bike a short ways on the trail and then walked back to the road so I could say
I have hiked and biked the PCT, just as I did for the Appalachian Trail a
couple years ago in New Hampshire. I wonder how many can say they have hiked and
biked both of these trails.
There was some kind of event taking place at Clackamas Lake with vehicles parked on both sides
of the road. Before long I had a 3-4
mile steep climb. During this time it
was misting finely. So fine that it was only noticeable when
descending at some speed, but not enough to warrant rain gear. The climb peaked and then started a long
descent to the intersection with FR 46.
For the last 5 miles or so FR 42
narrowed to a single lane but I only saw one vehicle in that stretch.
When I reached FR 46 I turned left towards Detroit, 31 miles away,
after having ridden the same distance to this point. FR 46 was a regular road with some
traffic. There was some initial modest
climbing and then it leveled off. Then
there was a steep 3-4 mile climb at 3 mph.
I don't ever remember climbing so much at 3 mph on all my other trips as
I have already on this trip. After the
steep climb the climbing became more modest to Breitenbush Saddle. This was followed by an initial steep descent
and then about 15 miles of modest descending with some flat sections.
I rode into Detroit
around 3:00 pm. Detroit
is a small resort community built around Detroit Lake
formed by a dam. This was the first
opportunity of the day to stop for any kind of drink or food and I was
starved. However, there was a 50s
drive-in event that had the downtown street shut off as it was lined with 50s
vehicles and a band playing 50s tunes.
This event was just shutting down as I arrived so I only saw a little
part of it.
After casing the small downtown I ate fish and chips at a
restaurant and felt much better. Then I
rode about 3 miles out of town to a campground that was open and got a
reasonable site next to the Santiam
River for $12.
Day 14: Sun, Sep 20, 2009 - Detroit,
OR to Sisters, OR [58.9, 6:52:49,
0.0 mph, 3,457']
I packed up and headed out for breakfast. I had a choice of heading back into Detroit where I knew I
could get breakfast at a cost of 6 miles roundtrip or take my chances and hope
the small town up the road had something.
I chose the latter and was quickly dismayed to see a sign warning that
there was no gasoline for 52 miles. I
figured that didn't bode well for my gamble.
But I lucked out. Idanha, pop
230, had a small store and an attached restaurant/grill. The only problem was the grill wasn't open
until 8:30 on Sunday morning and I had arrived at about 7:40 but I chose to
wait. Since I was sitting outside the
waitress chose to invite me in about 8:20.
She said the pancakes were really huge so I ordered the 2 pancakes and
bacon and eggs. In fact, the pancakes
were average size. Still it was a decent
breakfast and I was glad this worked out.
The other good thing about waiting for breakfast was it
gave the sky a chance to clear up. It
was overcast with a few blue patches when I got up but it was all blue skies
when I left after breakfast. My goal for
the day was Sisters which was a little less than 60 miles. The first 30 miles was a gradual climb of
3,000 feet to Sentiam
Pass at 4,817 feet. Because it was a gradual climb it wasn't the
killer climbs I had done the past couple of days and I rode at a good pace
between 6-8 mph for the most part.
The other good part was the weather was about perfect with
a cloudless sky and comfortably cool temps with my long sleeve shirt and
tights. The road followed the North Sentiam
River on my right with a
steep hill on my left. The only bad
thing was the traffic. I had expected
modest traffic on what I thought was kind of a secondary road but there was a
lot of traffic and it was noisy.
Fortunately, there was a good shoulder for the most part. At Marion Forks there was supposed to be a
restaurant and there was but it was closed.
That would have been about the right location for a second
breakfast. Instead I continued riding
and didn't stop for my granola breakfast until about 12:15, finally pulling
over along the side the road at a suitable spot.
After 31 miles I reached the intersection with 20/126 and
took 20 towards Sentiam
Pass and Sisters with
continued heavy traffic. The last 5
miles or so of the climb to the pass were pretty steep as I dropped down to 4
mph with a couple of short relatively flat spots. As I approached the final climb to the pass I
saw a bunch of dead pine trees and I assumed these were killed by the pine
beetle disease. A little later I could
tell that some of the trees were burned. When I got on the other side I found a fire
kiosk that explained that all of this was due to a fire in 2003 that burned
As I neared the top of the pass I had a near unfortunate
event. Most RVs have been good about
giving plenty of space when passing me but this bozo in a huge RV pulling a car
managed to ride a little across the white line while I was hemmed in by a guard
rail on a narrow shoulder. I would have
liked to have traded places with him and have him ride the bike and me zooming
right next to him and see how he liked that.
I don't think he could have been much more than a foot from hitting
me. The irritating thing was there was
no excuse for this. The RV was in a
passing lane that was phasing out so he had more than a normal lane of space.
After the pass there was an initial 6 mile steep descent
but I couldn't take full advantage of it.
Normally, when doing 30+ mph I want to use the vehicle lane to give
myself more margin but the traffic was too heavy to do that much of the way and
I had to ride more conservatively on the shoulder.
There was a nice view of Mt Washington
on the descent and then a pretty good view of Suttle Lake,
a long emerald blue-green lake that stretched out below. Interesting thing is I would have seen less
and perhaps none of the lake if it hadn't been for the fire. Without the fire damage the pine trees would
have blocked most/all of the view.
The last 10 miles or so to Sisters were relatively
flat. And speaking of flat, about 7
miles from Sisters I got that sinking feeling when I could tell my rear tire
was going soft. I pedaled on for a while
to see how long it would last. Finally,
I stopped and pumped up the tire and hoped it would hold into town which it
In Sisters, pop 1760, I rode through town checking it out
as best I could, and found the city park on the other end. Then I rode back a couple blocks into town to
a pizza place and had my first pizza of the trip which was pretty good. When I was done eating, my rear tire was
completely flat so I pumped it up to get me back to the city park. In the park I set up camp for $12 and then
removed my rear tire. It was easy to find
the puncture and I found a short piece of wire still stuck in the tire, so I
was confident that I had the fix well in hand.
This turned out to be a nice day for riding with great
weather and some good scenery. The one
disappointment was I never saw Mt Jefferson.
There was supposed to be a view of it yesterday but yesterday was
hopeless with the low hanging clouds. I
think today it was blocked by the high hill on my left most of the day. The other disappointment was that the city
park offered a senior discount on every hook-up in the park except for a tent
site. I decided to sleep on whether I
should sue the city for that oversight – tenters need discounts too...
Day 15: Mon, Sep 21, 2009 - Sisters, OR to Bend, OR
[30.7, 2:58:45, 10.3 mph, 1,123']
It was a cold night and the first night I had to zip up my
sleeping bag. I got up around 6:30 and
hurried to get packed and into a warm breakfast place. I didn't bother putting on my bicycle gloves
since I only had to ride a short distance but my hands got pretty cold in that
time. I stopped at the Ski Inn that the
pizza place had recommended. I had seen
it riding through town and wasn't too impressed since I figured it was a motel
catering to skiers. I was wrong. It was a small cafe unattached to any motel
and turned out to be a good choice since it was the local hangout. There was lively conversation amongst the
locals and the food was good. I had
pancakes and bacon and eggs. I would
have given the whole event a high rating but the pancakes were a little burnt
(but large) and that tempered my rating a bit.
The waitress at the cafe said she noted a 25F reading in the morning
which seemed colder than I had thought but maybe that's why I thought it was
I left town about 8:30 intending to ride only to Bend, some 21 miles
would be the last significant town for 4-5 days before I reach Ashland
near the California
border so I wanted to take advantage of its amenities. It was still a little cold when I left but
not bad and an hour later it was good riding weather. There was a lot of traffic on 20 and that
didn't surprise me today since Bend is a major
city in central Oregon.
The immediate impression on leaving Sisters was that the
area was arid and there were sprinkler systems working. I think this was probably the western edge of
high desert. I passed through this high
desert last year and enjoyed the scenery very much and I enjoyed today's
scenery too. There were several good
views of the Three Sisters
and a little further out of town I was able to look back and see Mt. Jefferson.
After about 15 miles I came to Tumalo Junction and picked
up OB Riley road the rest of the way to Bend. The road went past the Tumalo State Park,
which would probably have been a nice place to camp if I was looking for a
campground, and then started a short, steep climb of a little less than a half
mile with some minor climbing the rest of the way into town. Interestingly, the road had much less traffic
than the main highway but had a better shoulder.
In town it was pretty easy to find my way downtown by
following the traffic signs. I stopped
at a coffee shop with WiFi to get caught up on things, particularly since I
hadn't had Internet access since Hood
River. After checking email I researched motel
locations and found most of them on 3rd
Street which turned out to be Business 97. Then I looked up bicycle shops. I needed new gloves because my right glove
was disintegrating and causing soreness.
I also have a cyclocomputer mount on the side of my aero bars and I was
looking for a replacement because it had seen better days. This mount was not easy to find. I had looked unsuccessfully in all of the
bike shops in Hood
River and was hoping to
find one here. While searching for bike
shops I discovered Bend
had an REI so I went there first and got new gloves. Then I rode to 3rd Street to scout out some
of the motel possibilities. I also
stopped at another bike shop and they suggested trying another bike shop. That bike shop didn't have what I wanted but
they knew what I was talking about and directed me to another bike shop that
they were sure would have it. As luck
would have it this second bike shop was also next to a used book store so I
picked out another book for $0.50 since I would soon need another book. Then the third bike shop had the gizmo I
With my bike needs taken care of I rode back to 3rd Street
and stopped at Motel West. I was pretty
sure it was relatively inexpensive since it was behind a building on 3rd Street
and not an optimal location. There I got
a $38 room that had WiFi. Right across
the street was a Baha Fresh Mexican place where I got a large burrito. After eating I cleaned my bicycle chain which
needed it and then I installed my new aero bar cyclocomputer mount except I
used it for holding my GPS.
Interestingly, so far my GPS had proven more useful in cities whereas I
thought it would be most useful out in the country when following forest roads
and such that might be poorly marked.
Finally, I responded to some more work emails regarding a
server move that is scheduled for Wednesday, when I will most likely be out of
touch since I won't be near any major towns or major roads where I would have
cellular coverage. In addition, I have a
2-way pager that so far has proven useless since I have missed all my
colleague's pages except one. Earlier at
the coffee shop I had spent 20 minutes or so discussing this impending move
with my boss which has real potential for being a mess.
Day 16: Tue, Sep 22, 2009 - Bend, OR to Crescent
Lake, OR [82.7,
8:36:14, 9.6 mph, 3,901']
I got up in the morning and went grocery shopping at a
nearby store. I would be out for 3-4
days in areas with only a couple small towns so it was more important than
normal to have enough food. When I was
done shopping I almost didn't have enough room for the food. Here is where my new panniers helped out with
their extra capacity.
Yesterday I investigated places to eat breakfast and found
there was an Original Pancake House and it was on the way to Mt Bachelor so it
seemed a slam dunk choice. I headed
under 97 on Franklin, turn left on Wall St, and
to the restaurant in an area that was populated with businesses where I
wouldn't have expected to find a restaurant.
I ordered the sour dough pancakes and the waitress asked me if I wanted
all 8 and I said yes. The pancakes were
good but not filling. I estimated that 4
pancakes were about the equivalent of a large pancake so I effectively got 2
large pancakes for $7.25. That wasn't
enough food and it was too expensive.
Fortunately, I had bought a muffin at the grocery store and I consumed
it to augment my limited breakfast.
I didn't get on the road until about 9:15. The restaurant was close to the Cascade Lakes Road
so it was easy to pick up. The first 22
miles were climbing to Mt Bachelor, a climb of about 2,600 feet with a couple
of steep sections at 4 mph but overall not too bad a climb. There were some good views along the way of
mountains shrouded in haze to the east.
This route was obviously a popular bicycle route for the locals. Several cyclists passed me descending and one
passed me on the way up. I stopped about
2/3 of the way up at a sno-park for my second breakfast. It had a warming hut that wasn't open but had
a little porch that offered shade and a concrete cinder block to sit on. Just about perfect except there were some
bees buzzing around who thought they owned the place.
The scenery got better as I went over the Mt Bachelor
summit at about 6,300 feet. This road was an Oregon Scenic Byway and it pretty well lived
up to its name. There were several nice
lakes along the way - Sparks,
Devils, and Elk. It was projected to be
a near record setting temperature day in Bend
and it was getting warm at this altitude.
The biggest problem was my water got warm and I wanted a cold drink but
wasn't sure there was anything along the way, according to my guide. However, I saw a sign for an Elk Lake Resort
& Marina. It wasn’t clear whether it
was on the right or left side of the road and I chose the right side based on
the Elk Lake sign but that was the wrong
choice. If I had been smarter I would
have simply looked at my GPS which showed there was a lake on the left
side. Unfortunately, the resort was closed
on Mondays and Tuesdays so I couldn't get a cold drink but it had an outside
drinking faucet that provided perfectly fine cold water.
Refreshed I took off again. After several miles of steep descent from the
Mt Bachelor Summit, the road mostly leveled off with a little up and down but a
gradual overall descent. After Elk Lake
there weren't any more good lake views and even Elk Lake
wasn't viewable from the road. My goal
was to camp at Davis
Lake. As I neared the lake I saw a huge pile of
rocks along the road, taller than the pine trees. At first I thought some bulldozer had created
this pile but it was much too large.
That's when I realized this was a pile of lava because I remembered my
guide mentioning lava beds. Closer to Davis Lake
was evidence of another forest fire that looked pretty recent. I turned off to the campground at the
southern end of the lake in the midst of burned trees and then had second
thoughts as I would have had to travel a mile or so on a soft graveled road and
wasn't sure what I would find.
So I decided to push on to the next campground near Crescent Lake which meant I would be pushing
daylight since it was already around 5:30 and I had 14-15 miles to go. There was some more modest climbing and some
modest descending as I raced the setting sun.
In the southwest I could see a strange cloud threatening to shut out the
sun that I learned later was smoke from a forest fire. As I rode north on Hwy 58 towards Crescent Lake I found an RV Park but they didn't
have tent sites. I bought a cold drink
and pushed on.
Another 1.5 miles brought me to Crescent Lake
with a motel, a store, and a restaurant.
There was also an RV Park at this location and it apparently had tent
sites although I couldn't find the hosts to confirm tent site availability. So I went back to the store which had some
typical hot food of the burrito/taco variety and bought enough along with a
cold drink to take care of my evening meal.
While I was there a local asked me about my trip and told how he and a
buddy took off after high school on their on a trip some 30 years ago. They rode from Wisconsin
to Portland and
further south. Like many such travelers
he looked for an opportunity to repeat such an adventure some day.
Back at the RV Park the hosts still hadn't showed up so I
picked a site and set up. I went to take
a shower and learned the shower machine took special tokens rather than
quarters. This area was populated with
seasonal mushroom pickers and one of the pickers told me about the special
tokens and offered to get one for me for $5.
I think the token actually cost $3 but he knew where to get it so I gave
him the $5 and got my shower.
After the shower I walked back to the store for another
cold drink. I also discovered that I had
cell coverage here. After I left Bend I remembered another work issue with our new database
server but I couldn't communicate it because I lost cell coverage, as I
expected, when I left Bend. Now I had weak coverage so I left a voice
mail for my boss, who wasn't answering his cell phone at almost 2 hours later
than my current time of almost 9:00.
Then I retired to my tent and wrote my notes.
Day 17: Wed, Sep 23, 2009 - Crescent Lake, OR to Diamond
Lake, OR [49.7,
6:49:05, 7.3 mph, 2,791']
It was fairly chilly in the morning but not as cold as it
was in Sisters. When I was packing up I
chatted a bit with one of the campers.
He said that virtually everybody in the campground was either a mushroom
picker or a mushroom buyer. This
mushroom hunting was big business but it had a limited timeframe before the
mushroom pickers would have to move on to some place else. After I packed up I found the hosts at home
and paid $25 for my site, which apparently was the same cost as if I had an RV. There was no breakfast place so I made
breakfast of 2 sausage & egg biscuits and a bear claw at the store. This was more filling and satisfying than the
breakfast yesterday morning at the Original Pancake House that cost twice as
When I left around 8:30 it was still chilly but it warmed
up over the next hour. I wasn't looking
forward to today's route because most of it was on unpaved roads. Had it all been paved it wouldn't have been a
big deal including the climb to Windigo
Pass at 5,850 feet. I rode along the west end of Crescent Lake on pavement but didn't get to see
the lake until near the southern end.
After I rounded the southern end with more views of the lake
the pavement ended. The gravel road
would have been okay except it had washboarding, small ridges cutting across
the road that made the road very bumpy on a bicycle. It was a continual battle to try to find the
least bumpy part of the road and even when the road was slightly downhill it
was necessary to brake to slow the speed of the bike. This was depressing because I realized that
if the unpaved road was all like this it was going to be an awfully long day.
Fortunately, after about 15 miles, FR 60 turned abruptly
right towards Windigo
Pass and the road
characteristics changed. The road became
almost entirely sandy and the sand was fairly well compacted. That made it possible to move at a faster
speed without the jarring of the washboarding previously. There were still places where the bike tires
would dig in to the sand too much so it was still necessary to continually look
for the most compacted locations on the road, usually where vehicular tires had
As it was, the 10-mile climb to the pass was not that
steep and that helped offset the loss of traction due to the sandy road. About a third of the way I stopped in a shady
place for my second breakfast. When I
resumed the road started getting worse as I neared the pass. However, it was probably worse for vehicles
than a bicycle since the road narrowed and the passage of vehicle tires created
some ruts. That wasn't all that bad for
a bicycle since it wasn't that difficult to navigate around the ruts although
it did take care and energy.
At the top of the pass there was no sign announcing the
pass other than a Windigo Pass Trailhead sign.
However, the road abruptly changed color from the white sand to reddish
sand with some gravel. The road was
still sandy but that didn't matter as much on the descent, although the descent
had to be kept under control or risk a spill if the front tire dug into the
sand at some point. Of course, part of
the reward for climbing a pass is the follow on descent but that pleasure was
mostly lost with the sandy road.
After about 6 miles of descending, I had the option to
continue on the unpaved road to 138 or turn off towards Lemulo Lake
on a paved road but about 3 miles longer.
It didn't take me long to decide that I had had enough of unpaved roads
and I turned right towards Lemulo
Lake. At the same time I could see and smell the
smoke from a forest fire. But it was
easy to fall in love with the paved road.
When I reached 138, I turned south towards Diamond Lake, 7 miles away, and immediately
began climbing at about 5 mph. So the 7
miles took at least an hour on a road with little shoulder but not much
Lake had a resort and was the first
opportunity for food or drink since leaving Crescent Lake. I stopped at the resort restaurant around
4:00 and had fish and chips, which were good but expensive as expected at a
resort area. Then I rode down the road
to the Diamond Lake campground which I could see long
before I reached the turnoff.
The campground was large with A-F loops and it was long as
it was strung along the lake front. I
was fortunate to find a site at the lake edge and I quickly snapped it up in
this campground that had a lot of RVs. I
was a ways from the entrance so I set up camp and rode my bike back to the
entrance to pay my reasonable $12 fee.
There was, surprisingly, a shower facility so I took my clothes along on
my bike to shower. Showers were $1 for 5
minutes on a donation basis so that was a real deal.
Back at camp I dug into my food supply for a second dinner
and I watched boats on the lake and the sun set behind a mountain on the
opposite side that was almost obscured by the smoke. With the unpaved road behind me and no more
unpaved sections planned along the rest of the way my concern was how much the
smoke would affect the Crater Lake views
Day 18: Thu, Sep 24, 2009 - Diamond
Lake, OR to Prospect,
OR [68.3, 6:10:47, 11.0 mph, 2,749']
When I got up in the morning I couldn't see across the
lake because of the smoke. That didn't
sound good for the day. I rode ¾ of a
mile back to the camp entrance and then a mile back to the resort
restaurant. When I walked into the
resort I saw someone using a laptop in the lounge and that suggested WiFi. Yesterday, I had seen someone with a laptop
in the restaurant seating area so I asked the waitress if there was WiFi and
she said “Of course not” as if that didn't fit in with the locale. So this morning I asked the front desk and
was told there was WiFi. So I grabbed my
laptop and checked email while eating breakfast, a disappointingly small and
expensive stack of 3 pancakes. Our new
work database server was supposedly up and running on a new server with a few
questions that I made suggestions about.
It was around 9:00 by the time I left for Crater Lake. It
wasn't that far to the north entrance to the park and I got the bad news before
I got there. I saw several cars stop at the
guard station and then turnaround. I was
sure they were told the view was not good unless you liked smoke. I confirmed that with the guard and bought a Senior Pass
It was 9 miles to the Rim Drive with a fair amount of climbing
although not as bad as I thought it would be.
I stopped along the way for a needed second breakfast after my skimpy
first breakfast. When I reached the Rim Drive
intersection there was a viewing area.
From there I could barely see Wizard
and the water in front of it. Still it
was a better view than I thought I might get since I thought I might see
nothing. There were several scenic
turnouts on the descent to the south entrance with pretty much the same result
– a hazy view of Wizard
Island and not much else. Riding this part of the Rim Drive was also interesting. There were several sections where the edge of
the road simply fell off steeply and a careless moment could end up in a last
bike ride. So I carefully rode in the
middle of my lane to be sure I would get to ride another day. On the descent I met 3 cyclists riding
unloaded and then I met a couple of
touring cyclists. I talked with the guy
while his wife rode on and he said yesterday was a perfect viewing day which I
was really glad to hear. He suggested
that tomorrow was supposed to be pretty good so I started thinking about
whether I would want to lay over a day in the hopes of a good viewing day.
I stopped at the gift center and was hit with sticker
shock at the prices of sandwiches - $8 for a pretty basic ham sandwich. I had a small cup of chili and a soda to tide
me over. From there I descended steeply
with some switchback curves to the Information
Center. The ranger there seemed only mildly
optimistic that tomorrow would be much better since it really depended on
whether the wind would blow hard enough and in the right direction to move the
smoke out of the area. That made it an
easy decision for me to move on and forget about Crater
I descended to 62 and then turned west. After just a short, modest climb the road
descended fairly steeply to its intersection with 230 for 18 miles. This was a great descent in the 25-30 mph
range on a good road where I never had to worry about the bike getting out of
control. At the 230 junction I turned
south towards Prospect, another 11 miles.
This section was a more gradual descent but easy pedaling kept my speed
at about 18 mph. All of this was through
thick forests of tall pine trees.
In Prospect I stopped at the cafe for a bite of chicken
tenders just before 5:00. It wasn't a
great dinner but it was enough to tide me over till camp time. To follow up on work issues I was interested
in WiFi access. There was a hotel/motel
next door but it was a historic one according to its sign and the cheapest room
was $90. There was an RV Park up the
street that I figured probably had WiFi if they allowed tenting. The small restaurant/store was pretty busy so
I opened my laptop to test for WiFi and found it existed but I couldn't
connect. So I went back to the main road
and found another RV Park just south.
They didn't take tenters either but the proprietor allowed me to use
their WiFi to check email where I made some more work suggestions related to
the new server.
The proprietor said there was a NF campground just up the
road a half mile although I didn't recall one that close to town. So I rode up the road a couple of miles and
didn't see anything. With darkness
looming, I pulled off into the national forest on an off-track route and found
an okay spot to set up for the night.
Day 19: Fri, Sep 25, 2009 - Prospect, OR to Ashland, OR
[84.8, 8:54:55, 9.5 mph, 4,955']
I packed up as quickly as I could and rode back to the
same cafe in town, only about a mile away.
I had bacon, eggs, and pancakes and it was very good. The 2 pancakes alone were better than the 3
pancakes at Diamond
Lake. I also got to read the area paper and the
front page news was the smoke that was settled in the Rogue Valley. Turns out there were two separate fires that
were started by lightning on September 12 and 13 and both burned slowly before
taking off recently. For a while the
smoke was drifting north and had reached all the way to Vancouver
Island and then the wind shifted the other day. I'm pretty sure I know right around when it
shifted because I didn't notice any smoke while climbing to Windigo Pass. It wasn't until around mid-afternoon when I
had completed my descent from the pass that I noticed both the smell and sight
of smoke. That evening I could see smoke
in the Diamond Lake area and the next morning I
couldn't even see across the lake because the smoke was so thick. Anyway, the paper said the prediction was
that the smoke would hang around until Sunday when the wind was expected to change. So it was pretty clear that I made the right
decision to not hang around Crater Lake.
I left town by picking up Butte Falls Road which would take me to Butte Falls
some 25 miles away. This was a good road
with virtually no traffic and the scenery was pretty decent despite the smoke. However, it did have a significant climb that
I didn't notice on my elevation profile.
That was probably due to the fact that my elevation profile included the
Crater Lake route so the profile ranged from
2,000 to 8,000 feet. That made the
vertical range more compressed than normal.
Road ended at FR 30 and I turned right, opposite
the direction of my route, to head into Butte Falls
a mile away. I was determined to have
real milk with my granola rather than powdered milk and I got more than I
bargained for. The smallest milk size
the store had was half a gallon, way more than I needed. I was only able to use a little more than
half and had to waste the rest.
FR 30 took me past Willow Lake
CG and a few miles later
turned south and became FR 37. By this
time it was quite warm and I was sweating quite a bit. The best part of the road was where the pine
trees next to the road were really tall and they provided a little shade on the
road which made a big difference in temperature and comfort.
There was a pretty steep 3-4 mile climb in this stretch
and then FR 37 stopped at the intersection with 140. However a very short distance on 140 led to a
left and a continuation for FR 37 except FR 37 was somewhat different than
before. Now it was rougher due to chip
seal but better because it was mostly shaded by trees. I gladly traded the little rougher pavement
in exchange for the shade. I also was
looking to exchange my fairly warm water in my water bottles for something
cooler and I hoped that one of the campgrounds along the way would have
drinking water but I passed 3 campgrounds that all had no drinking water, and
also only charged $5 for a camp site.
FR 37 dead ended at Dead Indian Road and I turned on that to
take me the remaining 22 miles to Ashland. Then I finally found a campground with
drinking water and I traded in my lukewarm water for cool drinking water. This stretch was through a valley of ranch
land with yellow grassland. Then the
road climbed fairly steeply for 3-4 miles to leave the valley and begin the
descent to Ashland
on the other side. The descent was
fairly steep, losing 3,000 feet over 13 miles.
My guide book warned about checking the bike brakes but, although the
road was steep in a few sections, it was mainly very curvy and braking was
needed to work through various tight curves.
But it was a great descent and scenic
but it was disappointing that the smoke, which was much greater on this side of
the descent, obscured the distant scenery.
I rolled into Ashland
around 5:00 and started wandering around to gauge the city of 20,000 and find a
motel. I had to ride a pretty fair
distance once I got into Ashland
to get to the main downtown area. After
riding all the way through downtown I made my way back to the Ashland Motel
that looked like it might be the cheapest.
Perhaps it was but it nicked my pocketbook for $85.
I really needed a shower after the warm day and then I
headed out for something to eat. As luck
would have it there was a Subway next door but as luck would have it I wasn't
too happy with it. Subway has been
advertising $5 foot long subs for some time but some of these places only
include a few sandwiches under the $5 price.
I understand excluding a few sandwiches from the $5 but I consider it
deceptive advertising when most sandwiches don't fall under this pricing. So I skipped Subway and went to a teriyaki
grill next door where I ordered a chicken dinner for almost $10. Then I sat around and nothing seemed to be
happening for what I figured should have been an easy order to fill. It turns out the order got lost somehow so
the place refunded me my money to make up for the error. I was actually pretty happy with that outcome
and figured I would gladly wait as long as I did to get a $10 meal for nothing.
After food I went back to my motel to connect to their
WiFi. First, I discovered their WiFi was
password protected and had to get the password.
Then I discovered their WiFi was one my Linux PC wouldn't connect to
automatically. I had that same problem at
the Prospect cafe in the morning. I just
tried my laptop there and found an open WiFi but couldn't connect to it. This was getting to be more and more of a
hassle. I tried to engage the motel
folks with contacting their WiFi support team because I knew exactly what I
needed the support team to provide for me to connect up manually. Not surprisingly, the motel folks were
totally clueless about WiFi technology and it was virtually impossible for me
to talk to them intelligently since they thought they knew what the problem
was. Eventually, I was allowed the use
of the motel's PC to address some work email which I hadn't been able to do for
a couple of days because I didn't have cell coverage. So that turned out fairly well but it meant I
would have to move to another motel tomorrow to where I could get WiFi access.
Day 20: Sat, Sep 26, 2009 - Ashland,
OR - rest day
My plan was to head to the nearby coffee shop to use the
Internet and research where to stay for the day but I discovered the coffee
shop was only open during the week. So I
bit the bullet and started walking downtown, about a mile away. I didn't have to go quite that far since I
found a coffee shop at a Stratford Inn where I was able to do my research and
handle some more work issues. I found
the Timbers Motel that was close to my current motel and the same price with a
WiFi that worked with my PC.
is a city of about 22,000 and is the home of Southern Oregon University and the
internationally renowned Oregon Shakespeare Festival. After settling in my new motel I walked
downtown to check out the town and to see the Shakespeare Festival area. It was another hot, smoky day with the nearby
hills to the east barely visible. This
heat wave was expected to last another day and then cool off.
In the evening I relented on my Subway boycott and ate
there because I discovered they had a hot wings $5 footlong special. I spent the rest of the evening with
administrative and trip planning issues.
Day 21: Sun, Sep 27, 2009 - Ashland,
OR to Weed, CA [74.7, 7:45:40,
9.6 mph, 3,956']
I was slow getting started for some reason. I packed up and rode down Ashland St which was the same street I
came in on and stopped at a restaurant just before the Interstate for
breakfast. I had their Montana special which was bacon, eggs, and 2
pancakes. I noted the menu only had an
option for 1 or 2 pancakes and I saw why when mine came. They were almost as big as the 10” plate so
there wouldn't be many folks who would want three although these pancakes were
a bit on the thin side. As I left the
restaurant I got hailed by a guy who asked about my trip. When I mentioned riding through Death Valley he said he had done that a couple times in
January when temps were in the 70s.
I rode next door to the grocery store to do some shopping
and then finally got going just before 9:30.
I rode Hwy 66 for a few miles and then took Old Siskiyou Road, also known as Old Hwy
99. In a few miles the road started
climbing steeply to the Siskiyou
Pass. It was a nice road with almost no traffic and
good shade from trees as the road wound its way along side of a hill. It was just too bad that the smoke was still
around to hide the scenery.
After about 14 miles the road passed a lodge/restaurant by
I5 and I stopped for a second breakfast.
I asked in the lodge whether they could sell milk and they said yes in a
takeout cup. I wasn't sure one cup was
enough so I ordered two cups which was just right, one cup for my granola and
one cup for drinking. What wasn't right
was the price - $6. For that price I
could normally buy a gallon of milk and get change back.
When I left I picked up Old Hwy 99 on the right side of I5
for a bit and then it passed under I5 and continued the climb to Siskiyou Pass
on the left side, ending up much higher than the Interstate. After the pass, the road deteriorated
somewhat on the descent and then it ended and I was forced on I5. I descended a couple miles on I5, entered California, and exited
at Hilt for a cold drink. Resuming on I5
it was a continued descent for a few more miles until I took the Hornbrook Road
I rode a few miles and rode through Hornbrook and picked
up Copco Road
a few miles east and then Ager
Road south to Montague. That led to the start of a gradual 1,000 foot
climb toward Montague. All along there
was some nice scenery that was really messed up by the still lingering
smoke. My guide noted that near Montague
the view of Mt Shasta would dominate the scenery but I wouldn't have been able
to pick out Mt Shasta if it hadn't had some snow on the top.
It was another very warm day, the last warm day before
projected cooler weather moved in and cold drink stop opportunities were the
order of the day. I stopped in Montague
for a cold drink and then again in Grenada just another 6 miles down
the road. My goal at the start of the day
was Mt Shasta because that was the first campground along the way and I held
Weed as a fall back. However, I
miscalculated the distance and realized I would be doing well to make Weed.
it was a straight shot to Gazelle on a flat 9 miles and I made good time. I debated whether to stop for another cold
drink in Grenada but I
didn't see anything in Grenada
so the decision was easy. The rest of
the way to Weed was a little less flat.
Both these sections were through a wide valley that was prime hay and
cattle country. Views of Mt Shasta
finally started to get clear as I got closer and closer.
A few miles before Weed the road crossed over I5 where I
planned to pick up a side road. However,
there was construction going on and the I5 southbound entrance was closed as
well as the side road. Motorists were
directed to follow the detour route which sent them north on I5, apparently to
the next exit where they could turn around.
There wasn't any way I was going to do that on a bike so I rode up the
southbound exit ramp onto I5. Then the 2
southbound lanes were closed and the northbound lane was divided into a
northbound and a southbound lane by concrete dividers. Since I wasn't feeling suicidal, there was no
way I was riding into a squeezed one lane bounded by concreate dividers amidst
high speed traffic and considerable truck traffic. Fortunately, a cyclist has more options and I
weaved around the construction, which was dormant on a Sunday. The reason for the construction was the
rebuilding a bridge for the southbound lanes.
The bridge concrete was already poured and the truck that was used to
barricade the bridge was no match for a cyclist. This was actually a case where being on the
Interstate was probably a good thing. My
guide mentioned that the other road had some ups and downs whereas I5 was just
gradual and I'm sure saved me some climbing.
When I took the exit to Weed, there was a Motel 6 sign
advertising $44 rooms so I had an immediate gauge that the motel situation was going
to be much better than Ashland. I stopped at the first motel in town and got
a room for $35, $50 cheaper than Ashland. The motel was also next door to a Pizza
Factory so the meal choice was also easy.
After eating I was able to find a WiFi signal I could use even though
the motel itself didn't have WiFi.
Denis Kertz, 2009. All rights reserved.