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Friday, June 04, 2010

Trans-Oregon Tour: Thursday June 3

Snack break on the climb to Ochoco Summit

Ochoco Mountain scenery

Unwelcome on the up, welcome on the down

Butte in the Bridge Creek Valley

Painted Hills Country


Climbing out of Mitchell on US 26 to Keyes Creek Summit

Some things you see on tour you just can't explain

Box Canyon near John Day River

Sheep Rock on John Day River

Makin' Pancakes at the Dayville Church

Awesome stained glass at Dayville Church

Strawberry Mountains
It's Thursday evening (6/3) as I type this on my ipawd. Since I last left y'all, I biked for 3 days eastward along US26. We left Ochoco Lake Tuesday morning but only 6 miles in Kiran's tendinitis was too much for him to bear (despite mainlining Advil). So Kiran and Sharad had to scrap the bike tour, leaving me to go on solo.

The rest of the day was spent going up a ridiculously gradual and easy climb up to Ochoco Pass, elevation 4800 feet. I was greeted by a Ponderosa Pine forest at the top, and a screaming descent into Bridge Creek Valley, and more desert. I took a 14 mile detour to the fabled Painted Hills, which are indeed beautiful.

The day ended in the tiny town of Mitchell, population 100 (or so), and the place where RevPhil went to high school. Camping in the town park was free, but I opted for the luxury of a $40 room at the Oregon Hotel, where I could spread all my crap all over the room and use the free wifi (this iPod touch thingy is going to be a problem!) I hung out a bit with Tom, the guy from the navy, at the town bar/restaurant/whathaveyou.

Wednesday brought on the 6.5 mile climb to Keyes Creek Summit, elevation 4300 feet. It wasn't a brutal climb, but it was relentless, not leveling out one bit. The descent down to the John Day River was long, gradual, and beautiful, as 26 followed a creek through a canyon most of the way. A quick side trip to the John Day Fossil Beds Interperative Center, and a couple miles through Picture Gorge, and I was in the tiny town of Dayville, population a few, where I ended my day.

In Dayville I stayed at the Presbyterian church that doubles as "hostel" for bicycle travellers on the TransAm. The hostel is byo bed, so I set my sleeping bag and pad on the stage in the sanctuary. But the church provides Internet, shower, washer/dryer, and kitchen, all for free! Also staying at the church was Tom, and Tess and Lauren, both from Portland and on a several week bike tour exploring the far reaches of Eastern Oregon-on a tandem! They've been to even sparser populated areas than I have!

After dark we all headed down to the town park to talk about touring experiences. Wild animals to watch out for came up, and it was noted that this was cougar country. No more than a few minutes go by when we noticed a rather large animal moving fast down the main road. Was it a deer? Too low to the ground, not bouncy enough. Local dog? Coyote? Maybe. Or could it be...Well, it was a bit scary of a walk back.

Today was a fairly easy and uneventful ride to Prairie City. More on that later.

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