I took a few days' road trip to explore the eastern Gorge, and test out my hiking ability and stamina. The scenery is stunningly different from western Gorge and for me all the more amazing. Here's a link to Wikipedia about the formation of the Columbia Gorge. The photos here speak for themselves.
I wasn't sure I'd even write about this, so I'll make it short. In mid-August, I fell from my mountain bike and broke my femur, a couple inches south of my hip. It was a very tough and painful ordeal getting rescued and transported to hospital. Even recovery seemed to be slow and frustrating.
Well, it's about 13 weeks in the past now, and I'm about 80% "there". I've resumed some hiking and even thinking about 2021 touring.
Corvallis to Willamette Mission State Park, 49 miles, 1047 elevation
Somewhat cooler today but still too hot. The Willamette Mission SP is way out there, close to the Wheatland Ferry, if you know where that is. Campsites are hot and dry but only hikers, paddlers (from Willamette River), and bikers can camp at this state park. Otherwise, it's day use only. Many miles of hiking trails bordered by hop vines and fruit trees. Apparently a world class, competitive disk course here. Most of the people I encountered were there for the disk throwing. Water faucet at campsite, thankfully. I left at daybreak, heading back to start, for 48 miles more.
Total distance on the tour, about 405 miles. Garmin recorded a high temperature one day at 107. Highlights - camping in the cemetery and the fresh peaches. Lowlight - heat and heavy traffic.
Stay tuned for the next adventure.
Deadwood to Corvallis, 61 HOT miles, 2100 elevation
This was the worst day of the ride. Not only because the temperature peaked at just over 100 degrees, but the traffic was miserable, as I closed in on Corvallis. I had already planned a hotel stay so I was motivated to keep going for the air conditioning, if nothing else. As the day progressed, I had to stop every few miles in any available shade. I had plenty of water and also consumed electrolytes.
Florence to Deadwood, 28 miles
I decided for a shorter day, knowing there is significant climbing and still temperatures pushing 100 degrees. I decided to check out the Deadwood Cemetery as a possible campsite instead of on the highway at the boat ramp. Up a short hill and directly above the highway, I came to the Deadwood Pioneer Cemetery, Est 1853. Beautiful secluded location. A large area that could be used for gatherings, not just funerals. There is a local organization that is attempting to identify all the graves, an generally preserve this historic site. The oldest I found dated back to the Spanish American war. Many WWI and WWII sites, logged, identified, and numbered in case one is looking for someone.
A local man, Mac, is in the process of chiseling a stone marker within the cemetery. He had interesting stories to tell, not only about the land surrounding Deadwood, but about his time as a historian on the Lady Washington Tallship. Check out the link above to their website. Mac told me the elk come through every evening on their way to the river. I waited and waited but they must have decided to keep away from me.
Ranger kicked me out of the campground so I found a cheap hotel in town. I informed the ranger that there needs to be more clarity on their website about coastal hiker biker sites being closed. I did a little walking around Florence, finding the best burger and beer in town, in my opinion, at the Beachcomber Pub. That's it. That's all I did except wash some socks.
Fern Lake/Richardson to Honeyman State Park, 65 miles, 1900 elevation
Well I decided to ride the whole way to Florence (Honeyman SP). This involved climbing from near sea level over "low pass", about 1100 feet. Yikes, 100 degrees! Thankfully lots of shade today.
The thing about routes in Garmin 830 is that they list out the day's climbs and as you approach them, you get a little countdown to climb notice. I mostly didn't want to know I was riding 8% or 10%. Although knowing I had 30 feet of climbing to go was good. Also a graphic climb profile was helpful.
I stopped at Triangle Lake at the city park for a long break. Set up my Helinox Zero chair and enjoyed the view and a snack. Most of the lake access appears to be private, as the lake is ringed with houses and private docks for water ski boats and fishing boats.
I stopped again, in Deadwood, about 30 miles from Florence and the state park. The nice lady at the market told me where I could camp, across the street, at a boat launch area along Deadwood Creek. I was also informed by a fellow customer that "riding a bicycle on highway 101 is suicide".
As I reeled in the last 14 miles to Florence and the state park, the road became 4 lanes with a shoulder between 5 and 8 feet. I was very glad for that, considering the heavy trailer and motor home traffic on this stretch. It was hot, hot, still, with a headwind, and I was looking forward to the upcoming layover day.
I was unpleasantly surprised to learn, upon arrival at Honeyman SP, that hiker/biker sites were CLOSED. No one around, so I made my own campsite anyway. They would have to carry me out if they thought I was leaving tonight.
Adair to Fern Lake/Richardson County Park, 51 miles, 1000 elevation
Amazing 5 foot shoulder traveling along Hwy 99 going south. Nice buffer with the heavy traffic. Day temperatures are climbing into the miserable range, between 90 and 100.
Silly me, I thought a route called the Apple Trail was a bike trail. Most elevation today was on this 4 or 5 mile stretch. It turned out to be a road with climbs between 7 and 8 percent. Well on a road bike maybe that's not so much but consider that Stanley weighs about 68 pounds fully loaded, plus the heat.
Fern Lake indeed has hiker biker sites, but it's just an area on the edge of the common green space area and adjacent to big tent city. I was able to find an empty site and use the power to charge up my Garmin.
Speaking of Garmin Edge 830, I had pre loaded my daily routes and found this extremely helpful for navigation except for the few times it went crazy and told me to make a U turn, repeatedly. I could still be in Salem making the same U turns if I had not started ignoring Garmin. Eventually it self corrected. If I head straight to the coast tomorrow instead of stopping for the night in Deadwood, I will have two days in one spot.
Champoeg SP to Adair Memorial, 56 miles, 1214 elevation
Riding was so much more pleasant today but temperature is climbing. Traffic, yes, and fast, but not much of it. A stop at Johnson Fruit Company satisfied my craving for a very fresh, juicy peach. Nothing is better on a hot day. I resisted stopping frequently to pick ripe blackberries and was rewarded at having some right in my camp.
Please know that camping is not really allowed at Adair Memorial. However if you give them a call and ask permission, you might be permitted to do so. If you meet Susanna, the pheasant care taker, she'll likely enjoy chatting with you and filling your water bottles. There's no water here.
I needed a bike tour since I had to cancel Missouri until at least next year. I planned for 9 days, riding from a friend's house in Beaverton, sort of southwest, to the coast, looking for some cooler temperatures, which I found little of.
Beaverton to Champoeg State Park, 41 miles, 1148 elevation
Although I had carefully planned my route, thinking I would be traveling low traffic roads, today was disappointing in that I traveled on a very busy highway for miles. Although mostly the shoulder was adequate the traffic was not fun. I did find a nice bikeway along Highway 47, just leaving Beaverton. It didn't last long enough.
The Champoeg State Park in Oregon does much to accommodate we cycle tourers. A bike work station, a nice, large camp area with picnic tables, some of which are covered, some small lockers, and lots of outlets and USB plugs for charging stuff.
Quartz Butte area is sort of between Mt. Adams and Mt St. Helens and close to East Fork of Lewis River. Our adventurous group were seeking out a new to us place to car camp and hike. Traveling on a secondary, amazingly well paved road for about 5 miles, we found our destination, but couldn't quite make it to the end of the road, without a little trail maintenance. We were prepared for that with loppers, choppers, and shovels.
We were able to get our tents set up and a fire built just before the rain started. After dinner, we had the best smores, thanks to Mike and the quality chocolate he provided. He made the sticks for us also!
After a lazy start the next day, we hiked down (and I mean DOWN) to Quartz Creek. Amid lots of blowdown, we slowly made our way down the steep trail to a beautiful spot on the creek, ideal for napping and doing lots of nothing except talking about food and more smores.
Another hike, another trail, the next day, then we were on our way home.
June 21, Rainbow Falls State Park to Kalama, 71 miles, 2200 elevation gain
Why did I decide to ride 71 miles on a fully loaded bike weight total of close to 70 pounds? Well, I don't really know. It was actually less tiring than Day 1 somehow. The weather was good, traffic light on the route I chose. I was dreading a section of the route, a one mile climb just short of the end, named by Kalama Century alumni, That Bitch Carroll. Yeah, it was hard. I survived and began thinking about my next tour.
June 20, Millersylvania to Rainbow Falls State Park, 39 miles
The rain didn't stop in the morning but it wasn't cold and I had rain gear. As I departed, I could see that the campground had filled up overnight. Kids everywhere on their bikes; the smell of bacon and pancakes mixed with the wood smoke, made my mouth and eyes water.
I couldn't resist stopping at Bill & Bea's Burgers on the outskirts of Centralia. I was not disappointed. Although navigating through Centralia wasn't fun, the fun did begin when I got onto a pleasant, hilly country road dotted with horses, cows, sheep, and John Deere tractors. The last 15 miles to Rainbow SP is on the Willapa Trail, which I mentioned having traveled last year.
June 18 Lewis & Clark to Millersylvania State Park, 42 miles, 990 elevation gain
More sun today, but rain's on the way I'm told. Leaving Lewis & Clark, I stopped to check out the Jackson House State Park (first state park in Washington), a historic site just down the road. It became a welcome stop over for people following the Oregon Trail to Puget Sound.
I could not find an alternative to Hwy 99 north, and even though there's adequate shoulder, it's busy with large trucks and fast traffic. On the plus side, I pulled into the Great Wolf Lodge/Waterpark and connected to their wi fi while having a break.
In spite of having a pre departure checklist, I always forget a thing or two. This trip was no exception. I didn't bring a pump. Feeling this is a necessity, I was able to navigate to a retail store and buy a pump for insurance, guaranteeing I wouldn't get a flat.
Millersylvania SP is a very large and very popular destination. I decided to stay two days. There's a small lake where one can rent boats, several miles of trails, lots of day use areas, and if you can believe it, a beer garden! Maybe I'm living a sheltered life, but I never expected a beer garden in a state park.
I spent the next day doing a lot of nothing. I found an empty campsite with electricity, sat in my fantastic Helinox Zero chair with a book, and got stuff all charged up. Anticipating rain on my second night, I scoped out a shelter near my campsite which I moved to so as not to have to pack up wet stuff.
June 17: Kalama to Lewis & Clark State Park, 45 miles, 2000 elevation gain
Today was the start of a short tour, beginning in Kalama, WA, a short drive from home. The Port of Kalama lets you park in the McMenamins lot, which is patrolled 24/7, if you request a permit.
Yeah, you are probably thinking that 45 miles isn't so far. Well I didn't think it was either until I started climbing some hills that I wouldn't want to do on my road bike. I swear I will never ride Bond Road again for anything! I found a paved bike path that runs the length of the town of Kelso, a welcome change from the climbing and the traffic.
By the time I got to the campground, it was late and no one was around, so I found my own spot and tracked down the ranger in the morning as I was leaving. I love hiker/biker sites - no reservations and cheaper than regular tent sites. Washington and Oregon and a few other states have a no turn away policy for hikers/bikers, reducing the stress of where to camp the next night.