Other than the vicious chipmunk that ate it’s way into my bag of bread while I was setting up my tent yesterday evening, and the abnormally rocky, hard surface where I set up the tent, the stay at Colonial Creek campground was successful.
While packing up my belongings this morning, preparing for what I knew would be a tough day, I spotted another bicycle touring enthusiast passing by on the campground trail. Seeing me as well, he stopped. The man’s name was Earnest. After talking to him for a few minutes, I learned that he has toured Africa, South America, Central America, Australia, now the U.S. and he is waiting for his passport to head to Canada. Just talking to this guy was amazing. It is always nice to see others who live out this passion of touring.
I left the camping area at about 7:20
a.m., and began with a steep climb. Followed by another, and another…
By the time 3:00 p.m. rolled around, I was not nearly half as far as I wanted to be at the end of the day, I was out of water (that I had in bottles and my camelbak), plus I ate the last of my Ramen noodles around 4:30.
I was drained. But I didn’t let it affect me mentally. In all of the research, planning, and talking with other long-tour cyclists, the biggest thing they all stressed was staying mentally clear. So I did what I needed to do. I knew that water wasn’t an issue, for there were mountain streams and creeks from glacial melt almost every mile. So, I grabbed my campstove, boiled a pot of water from Porcupine creek, drank some and filled my water bottles. After resting till about 5:00, I noticed some other cyclists on their way up too. They were from Minnesota as well! I took a quick look at the elevation map they had and noticed that much of the climbing was done until I reached Rainy Pass, which was only a few miles ahead. Then I would only have an 800ft climb to get to Washington Pass, at an elevation of over 5400ft.
This unexpected greeting from the fellow cyclists really gave me more motivation. I pedaled on.
My sunburned arms and face emanated a distinct discomfort that I have learned to accept from days of cycling in the sun. Stiffness in the lower back and hands started to become more pronounced. I buckled down and found more energy than I thought I could muster.
Rainy Pass, elevation 4855ft, was conquered at about 6:15 p.m. Now all I had was 800ft of climbing and about 5 miles before it was time to reap the downhill of all the climbing I worked for all day.
The work and agony of the climb is what I payed to see sunset in Washington Pass as I coasted for 10 miles at speeds up to 34mph.
Riding the decline into the Mazama river valley easy of the mountains, I recalled there were a few free places to stay, one of them being the Bike Barn.
Here, cyclists can stay next to the big trademark barn. There is an outdoor shower (with warm water!), drinking water, an outhouse, and lights to aid in setting up your tent. All of which I utilized and was grateful for.
The bike barn:
One other cyclist was here, none other than Earnest who I had met in the morning! He shared some chilli and we talked some more for a while. Funny how things work!
I fell asleep within 20 minutes after pitching the tent and throwing everything inside.
This may have been the hardest day of the tour.