Baker City to Halfway
Day 12: 62 miles. Total: 600
Halfway, Oregon is one of the most beautiful places I have yet seen. It's like a hidden valley, very green, with the Wallowa mountains towering over it. The valley is wide with hay fields and horses, with lots of different trees along the creeks. The hillside to the west and north is pine forest, while the east slopes are mostly bare with trees growing up the draws. Much like Ashland in that respect. But the mountains are like nothing I've seen elsewhere.
I'm staying at a horse ranch, Lone Fir Friesians, that I found through warmshowers.org. Warm showers is a website where people can register to offer a place to stay to bike tourists. Inga, who owns this place, has been doing this for a while. She lives here with her 14 year old son and her boyfriend Dan. She's been here for 16 years raising and working these Friesian horses
They get 10 feet of snow here in the winter between December and March. Temperature between 10 and 20. Way too cold for me. I remember that I enjoyed living in northeastern Washington where it got much colder, -20, but now I can't handle anything much below 50. I wonder if it is a long term effect of a vegitarian diet?
I had a fun ride getting here. Met up with some young people, Kelsey, Rachel, and Dan, from Iowa. They rode the bus west and are riding east to Yellowstone. We parted ways in Richland where they camped, while I pushed on to Halfway. And a push it was with 3 miles of 7% grade over bare hills.
I woke up early to bright sunshine. It was a warm night, the warmest yet. Although this valley gets a huge amount of snow, the winters are relatively short, and it looks like they have a decent growing season. I'm setting on a little deck behind the barn looking out over lush hay fields at the southeastern most peaks of the Wallowa mountains. It's hard for me not to wonder what might have been had I been able to manifest a place like this and succeed at farming. This is ideal horse country here. Inga cuts and rakes hay with her Friesian horses. I did that with my Belgian draft horses years ago. There is nothing more timeless than working horses. Their slow pace just transcends time and space and you feel like you could be in another century, doing what farmers have done forever. I'm under no illusion that I could do that again. It's long hours of hard work. Then again so is bike touring. If I could ride 600 miles to get here who knows what else might be possible.