Sixty-Five: 86’d in 84 (Richland to Bates)

by davidharries

Miles: 97
Total: 4,281

A riding lawnmower roared into life and woke me up before my alarm today. The miracle of irrigation. Pleasant and cool this morning, I spent the first couple miles with a jacket on.

In 1984, heavy rain precipitated a landslide, damming the Powder River and burying a segment of Highway 86 — the main thoroughfare. You still see stretches of the old road from the bypass.

The Oregon Trail ran through here, and there’s a history center outside Baker City. It’s also on top of a mammoth hill, so I didn’t make the trip. I doubt any settlers would, either.

Baker City (pop. 9,828) is the terminus of section 3. The next map will take me to Eugene, and then it’s off to Astoria. Big-city libraries are nice because they keep regular hours. I spent some time here researching ways home. It’s likely I’ll buy a ticket out of Portland in the next day or two.

From Baker, the route takes you up over three 5,000′ passes, each about a 1,000′ climb, and 10 miles apart. I climbed Sumpter and Tipton today — Dixie tomorrow. The names give you a hint that southern sympathizers settled the area.

Just before cresting Sumpter Pass, I ran into two Asian tourists. They’re 15 days in and said I’m the first cyclist they’ve seen. Handshakes and photos all around. They’re on a 5,000-mile odyssey from Vancouver to NYC.

Home tonight is Bates State Park. It’s just a couple of years old, on the site of an old logging camp. It’s Friday night, and I’m the only soul here. Hiker/biker sites are $5, and that gets you electricity and potable water. Without a sink, I washed clothes inside an empty Ortlieb pannier.