44 miles (71 km) – Total so far: 3,483 miles (5,605 km)
The mounting heat is becoming enough of a challenge that I’m continuing yesterday’s split ride again today. I plan on riding 40ish miles each morning and then another 20 in the early evening each day as I pass through the high desert of Eastern Orgeon. Name like Hells Canyon on my map have intimidated me enough to think it might be nice to enjoy this part of the trip in the shade. As such, I’m just over halfway through my trip today as I write the first part of this post. Not one to sit idly, I’ve decided to take advantage of a laundromat here in town. The next couple hundred miles look to be strung together between towns of less than 100 people, and the sweat in my clothes from these hot days is… well… let’s just say I’m no Camas flower.
Speaking of Camas flowers, these violet beauties have accompanied me since the latter half of the Big Hole valley. The flowers figure prominently in the Native American tribes histories of the area. They were used for various purposes, but I think mostly they are just very pretty. Apparently, I’ve hit the area at just the right time to see them flowering. Usually most of them have lost their vibrancy by late June, but there are some stragglers staying with us into July.
The ride up to this are from this morning was one of the steepest and longest hills of the trip, peppered with plenty of switchbacks. Our plan to get going this morning was a success, and I was able to reach the plateau on which Grangeville is situated before the sun reached its zenith. Since the climb was a little cooler I was able to enjoy the rich and fertile land around me as I climbed out of the 120 mile canyon I’ve been in for the last couple of days.
Part 2 Terry, Paul, and I planted our butts in the comfy chairs at Cafe Crema for five wonderful hours of caffeine fueled, pastry nibbling bliss. I finished a book. The boys got all their interwebs stuff done. About halfway through our afternoon Tuan made an appearance. He had been putting on some serious miles to catch up to us… and then subsequently shot off to the North to visit a friend. The cafe staff sweeping up was the kick in the butt to get us back on the trail. As predicted, we enjoyed 20 miles in the blessedly cool weather. The first half of this was what I now think of as a gentle 4-5 percent incline for about 1,000 feet. We got to the top with no problem and then began a massive and steep descent towards the North entrance to Hell’s Canyon during which I rarely dropped below 40 MPH. I noticed the air getting warmer and warmer and wondered if I’d left the heaven of the cafe for the hell of the canyon. I did get chased by a dog at the bottom, but he was of just the one head variety. Since Cerberus hasn’t made an appearance yet, I figure worst case scenario I’m just in purgatory.