Woke up in Mt Vernon's Blue Mountain Lodge and made the decision to never go this low again! It was clean and safe and i am so grateful for that, but really .. .we just have to be a bit more prepared to go that extra mile (literally in this case!) when looking for our night's rest! We did have a good meal and a good rest, I don't know, it just didn't feel right!
We did put our time here to good use. First order of the day was to once again to make a quick stop at the post office as we downsized yet again! I am sure it was the comment from someone "didn't you learn from the first trip"? That made us re-think it all and believe it or not we sent home another 13 pounds between the two of us! Wow!
We had to wait til 9:00am for the post office to open so it was a later start than normal. We really didn't know where we would end up for the evening. Our plans were to take it as we find it. I had made arrangements for a WarmShowers host in Prarie City, but that was only 20 miles down the road. Prarie City was the best place to start the crossing of all 3 passes ahead if we thought it possible to cross all 3 in one day. That would have made for a really long days ride as we would have to go all the way to Baker City! There are 3 Passes . . . Dixie, Tipton and Sumpter all 5,000 plus feet high and all within probably 30 miles!
We enjoyed the ride to Prarie City in beautiful sunshine and perfect temperatures. Everything was closed up on a Monday in this cute little town except for the Roan Coffee shop and it could not have been a more perfect place to stop! A fun place with all the adorable things you love to buy! Books, niknaks for shelves, adorable little words of wisdom printed on everything from suitcase tags to framed pictures to dish towels and then of course my favorite, wool for knitting! And the best ready to made sandwiches! So friendly and welcoming, its always just so darn hard to leave these places! Lots of locals offering their best advice and telling us about the Bates State Park in between the first two passes. So that is what we decided to do, thinking wisely that we would never make all three passes in one day . . .well we would make it if we had to but after talking to the host at the state park, we just didn't need to, they had a place for us and even willing to let us sleep in the day use shelter in the event of the inevitable rain! Great! We said out thanks and set off!
It was a solid climb with amazing views behind us. It was hot, but we just took our time, stopped frequently and kept going! Stopped at a viewpoint for a little photo opportunity! How perfect that a car pulled in just in time so he could help us with the photo! Great timing! Enjoyed the chat, the view and the rest. I can't imagine coming up that incline with horses pulling those awkward bulky covered wagons with all that heavy load! But they did and you have to stop and take a moment to marvel at the drive and motivation and endurance of those that came before us!
Up and up we went and soon were aware of this big black threatening cloud hanging over our heads! The thunder was rumbling, we kept climbing, it kept rumbling! Mike had a plan if it did start to rain! We weren't going to soak ourselves like last time, we would stop and make a cover out of a waterproof cover we use for our bikes! When the few spits of rain started we found a small road, leaned our bikes agains the fence and made a small bivouac and crawled in! Nothing like a little Boy Scout ingenuity to save the day! It was good practice at setting up in a hurry, but it never did really rain! And that's ok with me! Got some fun selfies inside, it was rather cool!
Feeling safe we set back off and up! Maybe it didn't rain on us but it obviously did rain ahead of us so we were bettter off having stopped while the downpour happened up ahead! Good One Mike! We were lucky there was hardly any traffic to contend with and those that did pass were extremely courteous and generously moved over to the other lane! Just before the top there was a historical site providing information about the railroad that passed over the top for logging! Again a reminder of the fortitude of the early settlers to keep those logs moving!
We peaked Dixie Pass at 5,277 ft, stopped for the mandatory photo . . . Yes you ARE going to have to put up with a photo at every pass! And then down we went! Lots of water on the road, but easy not too fast descent with no cars to pass and splash us! Ponderosa Pine Forrest all the way down and the fragrance of rain and wet pine! Gorgeous!
At Austin Junction there is a little store. We did have a heads up that it closes on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and when I called this morning to verify it, Christy said yes its true but if I see you in the parking lot i will sell you some ice cream! Mike's favorite words! And there was Christy, almost on cue in the parking lot, so guess what we did!! They were doing publicity photos and we got to be the stars of the photos! They are a welcome reprieve right on the road of the Adventure Cycling maps so they like to appeal to the cyclists! Well we will lend our positive comments! Christy you are wonderful and your welcoming smile and hospitality are fantastic! Sorry we didn't have the cobbler!! This is how sweet she is, she offered to deliver it to the campground for us!! Really? Why did we turn it down, it was even homemade! But we did have ice cream, gigantic cinnamon rolls for breakfast, nibbles and snacks for the road so we are set! Thanks for opening up for us!
We turned left to head to Bates State Park and my heart sank, it was . . . Gasp . . . DOWNHILL! You know what that means, we were going to have to climb an extra mile to get back to the route! How did that happen? I actually stopped and said to Mike I am not going! Let's ask Christy if we can camp at the store! Of course Mike said, keep going! I think I rode my brakes all the way down, i did NOT want to go downhill!! But we did, of course and it was a beautiful campground despite the fact there were no showers! The hosts were kind enough to have already agreed to let us use the day use shelter to camp in because there was so much rain in the area! It was a welcome offer and we promply set up! Cooked up a nice hot meal, had a walk to see the pond and just relaxed!
A rather early but welcome bedtime!
We were woken in the middle of the night by footsteps in our shelter area! It always takes a minute to collect yourself when you are woken up! It was a bit nerve wracking, now i could see there were headlights shining in, at first I was thinking it just wasn't dark yet! We stayed quiet and listened, couldn't see anything without standing up and we were about to do that if we didn't have to! It sounded like someone was just washing out an ice chest or something at the hose. After all it was a public area and we weren't supposed to be there! So no harm done, just a little scare for us because we were sound asleep. I think it was not even 10pm and within the quiet time hours of the park . . .so we did what any good camper would do when they left, we fell back asleep!
So that catches me up for our trip over Dixie Pass! More passes to come! Enjoy the photos!