Boulder Creek Ranch to Baker City
Day 11: 66 miles. Total: 538
It rained all night and was quite cold. In the morning you could see fresh snow on some of the ridges. I got up early enough to see Scotta before she left for work, and thank her for their hospitality. It was great to have a dry place to sleep and friendly people to visit. I hope I get back to Boulder Creek Ranch again someday.
It was cold and gray as I headed back up the middle fork of the John Day river, with occasional drizzle. I was able to warm up okay as the grade was slightly uphill. When I got back to hwy. 7 it started raining a little harder, but by the time I got my rain covers, and jacket on and got going again it stopped and didn't rain again all day.
I got warmed up just fine climbing Tripton pass. As has been the case for the last 4 climbs, it was a steady 4 - 6 percent, perfect for bike touring. At the top was a interpretive sign about the old railway that used to come trough here but eventually had to give up due to the amount of snow in the winter. The downhill was chilly but at least it wasn't raining. It was still well forested with ponderosa pine, and I had crossed over to the Wallowa-Whitman national forest.
The next climb came pretty quick and this one was different. Instead of one long steady grade there were shorter steeper climbs with easier sections in between. You could see Huckleberry Mountain to the south but I did not get a picture. Sumpter Pass was also over 5000 feet but had no sign. The downhill was fast and pretty soon I was cruising by the town of Sumpter. It was 3 miles off the road so I didn't stop. There was now a large and foreboding mountain range to the north with lots of fresh snow.
I stopped at Union Creek campground to see if any bike tourists were there and to have lunch. At $18 a spot they weren't going to get any bike tourists unless they were in a group. I had already made up my mind to continue to Baker City as it was too cold to camp.
After the reservoir the road started going downhill again following the Powder River. This of course was very confusing because the Powder River is in Montana and Wyoming. This Powder River feeds the Snake, while the better known one feeds the Yellowstone.
The road followed the river most of the way to Baker City. The river got wider and the valley opened up to ranches. Soon the pines gave way and the hillsides were mostly bare. Occasionally I caught sight of some very big, and very white mountains to the northeast. I'm pretty sure these were the Elkhorn range. The mountains I had been riding through, together with the Elkhorn and the Willowas are collectively known as the Blue Mountains of Oregon.
I got to Baker City at about 4:00 after a nice 66 mile ride. It was warmer and I was considering camping at one of the private campgrounds in town, but I found a nice enough motel and the lady even gave a discount to bike tourists because they are listed on the ACA Trans-Am map. I found a bench to sit down and call the motels when I saw this sign on a bench. Too much to think about.
Baker City is full of road racers here for the Elkhorn Classic Stage Race. The first stage is tomorrow. Do you think they'd let me ride along with the peleton?