STATS Day: 6 Day Mileage: 85.1 Total Miles: 315.6
Knowing I had a long day ahead of me, I woke up just before 6am. I began packing up everything I had taken out since two days ago. I haven’t been able to figure out my packing system just yet but I know that that will come and mostly this week. James and I said our goodbyes to Nancy and thanked her for such a great stay. We were heading out of baker City by 8am.
Initially, we knew we had a little climb, followed by a bigger climb later in the day. The ride began cloudy and it was a welcomed respite from pervious days. The first climb out of the city led us to the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center. Unfortunately, it was about 600 ft above the road we had to bypass. Instead we met a cyclist heading west after starting in DC. His name was Shawn and was recently retired from Seattle and was on a 125lb (!!!!) Surly Long Haul Disc Trucker. He must have had everything on his bike. He woke up at 4:30am and began riding. Impressive. We were off once more.
Most of the ride into Richland, 40 miles away, was downhill luckily. We made it the remainder of those miles just before 11:30 where we had fizzy drinks and lunch with a coffee. A couple from Scotland approached us as they were just cruising around the US on bicycles with the end destination being Crater Lake. They were taking a break in Richland and were heading to the bar. There’s a theme in bicycle touring… They wished us luck on the next climb and we knew we still had 45 more miles.
It was 12:30 before we began again and immediately we were going uphill. This is where things got troubling. It was hot. The sun was beating down on me and the incline kept getting greater it seemed. I was able to look to the sky to my left and could see where I was going. That’s when I knew these switchbacks were going to be real. In all, I stopped 3 times on the way up to catch my breath, slow my heart rate and to drink water. It neared 100 degrees in Eastern Oregon in the afternoon. At the summit, though not my greatest elevation to date, I took a picture with James knowing it was by far the hardest climb because of other factors. I’m glad the downhill was coming.
The town(?) of Oxbow was next and we would have completed 70 miles by the time we arrived. Needing water, we stopped at Copperfield Campground and cooked a little snack, ramen noodles. As we filled up our waters and got back on the bikes, I discovered I had my first flat! I blame Shawn as he discussed flat tires when we met him and I wasn’t able to find wood to knock on. Dang it, Shawn. I couldn’t find any puncture on the tire not could I find it on the tube. I kept the tube, changed it out and was able to change it successfully. James made a slight brake adjustment on my bike and we had another 15 miles before the end of the day.
Crossing into Idaho, we climbed along the Snake River. I didn’t know the elevation that remained into camp. It was tough. My legs felt like we had been riding for 82 miles and I was pretty worn out, but we finally arrived to camp after 85.1 miles. We turned into Woodhead Camp, found the camp where he told us it was closed for the week due to maintenance and that no tent areas were available. My heart sank as the next available was 8 miles down the road with a steep climb to get there. We explained our situation and somehow his tune switched and told us we could pitch a tent anywhere and that all the water was potable. Somehow, the campground was closed but the only thing that was wrong was that there was no showers, yet water was just fine and there was a hose. Sprinkler shower number two! We found a spot, pitched the tents and made dinner before heading to bed. Low of 63 tonight but it’s currently still hot as I head to bed.