Tour Day 29: Prineville, OR to Warm Springs, OR

September 15th, 2007

75.74 mi / 4:57:20 time / 15.2 mph avg. / 32.0 mph max. / 1113 ft. climbing
Staying at Mecca Flat BLM Campground

Largest Roadkill SeenToday would be an easy day, so I started slow in the morning, reading the copy of Outside magazine that was given to me by a fellow traveler in Stanley, and then doing a short hike through the pines. There had actually been a tiny bit of drizzle in the night, which sent me scrambling out of the tent to cover my bike seat and grab my shoes, but it stopped before anything actually got wet.

The ride started with some LSD (Long Steady Downhill), which got me quickly into Prineville (pop. 9990, big city!) Did library’n’lunch there, where I suddenly discovered a campground just off US 26 near Warm Springs. I had been planning on a state park a good way off US 26 that would have given me a 60 mile day, but I quickly scrapped that and went for a somewhat longer day in trade for less mileage over two days.

Mt. Jefferson (not Mt. Hood!)Halfway between Prineville and Madras, as I came over a hill, I saw a small mountain and thought, “hmm, that mountain has that low, wide, volcanic slope to it, almost like Mt. Hood. I must be getting close to those Cascades.” Then I looked a little to the left, and lurking behind it, a good eight times larger, “Holy shit, that’s Mt. Hood!” It was difficult to see through the haze and distance, but seeing those bright glaciers shining through was quite an overwhelming feeling. I think I rode the next three miles with a huge goofy-ass grin on my face.

Only thing is, it turns out that it wasn’t Mt. Hood. It was Mt. Jefferson. D’oh! I discovered that fact as I passed to the north of it without ending up in the Columbia River. Well they look pretty darn similar, how am I supposed to know? It’ll be interesting to see if I feel the same way when I see the real Mt. Hood tomorrow.

Mecca Flat CampgroundMadras is big enough for a Safeway, so I did my final good grocery stock-up, including a big sub and a beer that I would take to camp for dinner. The last five miles of the day (except for the two miles of gravel to camp) were down into the deep Deschutes River gorge, sending me to less than 1500 feet! I’ve shrunken down to 5-foot-8 here because the tremendous air pressure is squeezing me down! So I spent last night at the very top of a mountain, and tonight at the very bottom of one.

The campground is also the complete opposite of last night’s: a field of burning dust being blown around by a hellish wind, and right next door is some kind of private party house with lots of barking dogs, so we’ll see how the night goes!

Day 29

3 Responses to “Tour Day 29: Prineville, OR to Warm Springs, OR”

  1. jan Says:

    “but seeing those bright glaciers shining through was quite an overwhelming feeling. I think I rode the next three miles with a huge goofy-ass grin on my face.”
    That still gets to me after so many years and even looking at a photo makes me smile!

  2. Monte Crippen Says:

    FYI, my notes from earlier about how one old man tours. From 8/29

    I had been telling myself for the last year or more that I really needed to get out for an over night, multi day tour. But, since I had been “everywhere” I just could not get enthused, so put off and put off, etc. It has been nearly three years since my last tour so I finally talked myself into climbing Cabbage Hill even if the miles to and from would be a little boring. Ah, Finally!

    General Log
    Sunday, 19 Aug, 2007 Kennewick to Hermiston via Clodfelter Road. Left about noon since it rained in the AM but only needed 3 hours for the short distance. But with the rain over, the wind was also up to about 20 mph in the face for most of the climb up and the decent back down. Stopped at Plymouth, to check the WA State campground for a future trailer outing. Crossed over to Umatilla and continued up the River Road to Hermiston. Stayed at the old Economy Inn, but it has changed hands and like many other places in this area has deteriorated. So will have to spend more to be comfortable.

    Monday, 20 Aug, 2007 Hermiston to Pendleton. The morning weather was cool, cloudy, and dull. But the limited rain radar pictures I could get showed that it would not be better before the end of the day so took off toward Echo. The few spits of rain continued to increase. In the 20 mile transit from Echo to Rieth along the Umatilla River I saw 13 cars, 5 deer and 3.5 trains. Well, three full trains plus a couple of large, special vehicles doing track repair work. Was very wet when I arrived but otherwise a good trip.

    Tuesday, 21 Aug, 2007 Climbed Cabbage Hill. Steep, as expected, but very nice day. They have repaved the road from Mission for a few miles until it gets to a new gravel pit, then back to how it was 50 years ago. The old Boiling Point is gone, replaced with a nice new brick farm house and modern barn and equipment shed, but the “level” ground makes it look familiar. The old Poverty Flats area has been cleaned of all the old junk trailers and sheds and now looks like respectable rural land. On to Emigrant Springs and the entry to shoot down the freeway at 40 mph. Very tired from the climb and stress but very satisfied.

    Wednesday, 22 Aug, 2007 Pendleton to Walla Walla. A very nice day for a ride but misread the map at Adams so had to do an extra 5 miles and several hills to get back on track at Athena. But it was all very scenic and quiet. Got off the main highway at Milton-Freewater and retraced part of the 4,000-In-40 route toward Walla Walla through the orchards and fields. Stopped at Park Manor to see Mom, and then goofed off the rest of the day.

    Thursday, 23 Aug, 2007 Walla Walla to Kennewick, a pleasant day with mild to favorable winds. Took the river route around Nine Mile Hill and made good time. Arrived tired but satisfied.

    General Notes
    I admit to getting more dehydrated than I should have. All of these short, easy breakfast rides I do most of the time got me out of the habit of paying attention to the water intake. So that needs to be a priority on any longer ride.

    I need to recalibrate myself about motels. In the last couple decades all of the newer motels have been of “Marriott Design”. Meaning a large box where the only room access is via interior hall ways through the lobby, etc. This system is a real pain to get bicycles in and out of, so have tended toward the older design of room access directly to the parking lot which makes bike roll-in and roll-out a cinch. However, all of these older ones have now changed hands several times, with deterioration at each transition. It is now more usual to find the ice machine out of order, the pop machine dead or poorly stocked, and no plans to fix them anytime soon.

    I dead giveaway in this regard is to see Oriental or Indian managers or desk clerks. They seem to see changing the sheets as the only necessary and sufficient condition to the operation of the motel. The fact that faucets drip, lights are out, ice is not available; etc is of no issue to them.

    Some good news is that Pendleton has and is improving their image. The downtown area seems more active and they are advertising several restaurants that are now open 7 days a week! A very nice step from “everything closed on Sunday” of past years.

    Mileage Log
    19AugSun 1235 ft Cr-Br 1790 ft max elev 2590 ft elev gain* 2.82% ave slope 35.5 miles 3 hr-54 min net time

    20AugMon 550 ft Cr-Br 875 ft max elev 1610 ft elev gain* 1.47% ave slope 34.5 miles 3 hr-14 min net time

    21AugTue 2560 ft Cr-Br 3465 ft max elev 3010 ft elev gain 2.89% ave slope 39.4 miles 4 hr-07 min net time

    22AugWed 795 ft Cr-Br 1695 ft max elev 2000 ft elev gain* 1.58% ave slope 47.6 miles 4 hr-35 min net time

    23AugThu 0 ft Cr-Br 970 ft max elev 890 ft elev gain 0.75% ave slope 54.2 miles 4 hr-40 min net time

    RideTotals n/a ft Cr-Br n/a ft max elev 10100 ft elev gain n/a% ave slope 211.2 miles 20 hr-30 min net time

    Cr-Br = crest – barrier which is max elevation height minus the initial base.

    * continue to be impressed with how much extra gross elevation gain there is on routs that seem like they should be relatively flat and easy.

  3. Swati Says:

    Oooh, oooh! You’re almost there! I’m very excited for you! Don’t die on the last couple of days, OK? (Though that *would* make an extra poignant story, but still).