Monday, August 24, 2009

Day 55: Baker City, OR to Prairie City, OR (69 Miles)

I got a late start this morning. I had to wait around for the local "Flagstaff Sports" shop to open so that I could use their truing stand and purchase some more inner tubes. The guy was a little late to open the shop, but he arrived on a bike followed closely by his faithful dog. The mere presence of a dog can make me forget about trivial issues such as "time." I never caught his name, but the employee seemed like a really nice guy and we chatted it up a bit when looking over my tire. I spent about an hour in the shop and finally got on the road. By the sweat already accumulating on my skin at such an early hour, I could tell it was going to be a hot one...

The day's ride was going to be a challenging one. I had the option of either riding over three mountain passes and conquering the Elkhorn range in one day, or stealth-camping somewhere after the second pass and saving the last climb for tomorrow morning, and cooler temperatures. Suffice it to say, I chose the former option over the latter, in spite of a scary dehydration-situation... but I'll get to that soon enough...

As I rode towards Sumpter Pass, the first climb of the day, I witnessed something straight out of a BBC Planet Earth special. I saw a hawk swoop down to pick up a critter, I'm assuming it was either a fat chipmunk or some sort of prairie dog. As it had it's prey in it's talons, a smaller black bird flew down and began assaulting the hawk. The hawk subsequently dropped it's potential breakfast and it bounced once and ran off to the nearest hiding place. It was the most fascinating display of nature I've seen on the trip thus far, and I imagined the sultry voice of David Attenborough narrating the scenario in my head (which makes things all the more interesting).

Anyways, I rode over Sumpter Pass with relative ease, but I noticed that I was getting low on water. Checking the maps, there was a whole lot of nothing until Austin Junction, which was beyond Tipton Pass. I decided to reserve my energy on the next climb and try to drink more conservatively from then on. In spite of these efforts, I already took down my last drop when about half way up Tipton. The challenging climbs mixed with the 95 degree weather made me sweat enough to make my mouth go dry and coarse in moments. I took my empty water bottle and would shake it out upside down at RV's and cars that passed by, but no one stopped. I actually fulfilled the desert movie cliché and whispered "water" from time to time. I've passed out from dehydration/heat stroke before. Once when I was mountain biking with a friend and another when I rode from Rome to Naples. Thinking the third time might be the charm and finally get me, I kept my mind awake and took breaks to stave off the act of passing out.

Salvation came in the form of a small pipe, spewing forth the sweet nectar of life. Luckily, there were a few farmers at the spring and they told me it was definitely safe to drink. I quickly filled my spare liter bottle and drank it down within seconds, then proceeded to repeat this action. Dehydration was my biggest fear when preparing for this trip and I was relieved to overcome this dire situation I found myself in. I'll have to stop in the next town and purchase another spare liter water bottle, for the purpose of not repeating the same mistakes.

I rode a few more miles to find a gas station/cafe/grocery store at Austin Junction, and not much more. It was only 3:30PM by the time I reached this potential stopping point, so I grabbed my map and thought it over with a milkshake. Feeling that I had enough energy to make it over Dixie Pass, the third and final pass of the day, I pumped myself up and climbed over my last ascent in the Elkhorn Mountains. Before I knew it, I was quickly riding down a thrilling descent into a beautiful valley. Within minutes, I was pulling into Prairie City and quickly found a place to pitch my tent. I'm camping near a defunct railroad depot and will be eating crappy Ramen noodles tonight (for the sake of saving money). Looking over the map, I'll probably have a shorter day and stop in Dayville, where there's a Presbyterian Church that offers "hostel-like" accomodations. I'm getting close now... I can nearly smell the ocean!



2 comments:

Momma said...

Hey Blake!
I am counting the minutes right with you!!! Please stay hydrated and safe and know my continued prayers are with you. I am so proud and happy for you buddy!!! What you are doing is so wonderful and I can't wait to see you!!!!!
Love, Momma

Mary said...

Oh yeah! They're always masked. Anyway this was an interesting entry. I'd probably subscribe. More power to you and to your site! I'd be checking again for more of your entry. Good luck!

WHEELS

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