Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Day 3 Into the Desert; Sisters-Mitchell, OR 92 miles

Today I exited the Cascades and got into the high altitudes of the Oregon desert. A late start cost me more mileage, as did a road for the rest of Oregon (Route 26) that has some serious climbs. My goal after yesterday’s ride was to try to stay hydrated and cool. To some degree I did. A large thunderstorm lay overhead my route for a couple hours. This kept the temps more reasonable than they would have been. I decided to stop short of a mileage goal out of fear that I would bonk on the next nasty hill going east. It will be waiting for me right out of town tomorrow morning. I hope to tackle it in the cool of the day. There will be other hills when it gets hot.

In Prineville I visited a memorial to firefighters who lost their lives fighting a horrible forest fire (picture). It’s written up into a title called ‘Fire on the Mountain’ by John MacClean. I was taken back by the book and moved to visit the memorial in this town where the firefighters had their base. Ironically, the fire danger here in Oregon is extreme. On the last climb of the day up Ochoco Pass, I smelled the smoke of a distant fire.

As I thought, bird life is everywhere in the desert. I saw several species of raptors today, including buteos that the OWLS folks could recognize. I saw my first western bluebird. Typical of a desert night at dusk, the air is now crystal clear. Nighthawks cackle and swoop above the tiny campground, and my neighbor – a veteran of many days on two wheels – plays the Irish flute. I will replay that sound as a source of calm during a long Wednesday pedaling east.

1 comment:

  1. paul - sounds like you're doing well so far! we are all thinking about you and pulling for you. you're awesome -