Baker City to Sumpter 30miles
Ah, the benefits of being ahead of schedule! I fully intended to get out and do a long ride today, hopefully to Prairie City. But it just didnt happen! It started off fine – I was on the road by 7.30 so no problems there.
Its just that I was going into a bit of a headwind, and it was uphill all the way. I would also have to do three steep passes in quick succession to get to Prairie City. And I just decided that I would save that for tomorrow. So I ended up stopping in the town of Sumpter, which is at the foot of the first of the passes. But because I had set out early, and ended up doing a short ride, I arrived by about 10am!
First point of order was to get some breakfast. Once that was done (and very much enjoyed) I found somewhere to stay and then did a bit of exploring. Quite an interesting little town actually. One of it's main attractions is a dredger! It was used to dredge the whole area to basically pan for gold on a huge scale. The dredger looks like a huge house with giant conveyor belts at either end to suck in all the earth, and then spit out the stuff that isnt wanted. When you look at the whole area on google maps with the satellite view on, you can see the huge area it once ploughed its way through. Click here
There were also some walks through the park, and a nice little creek. So I took a bit of a swim and did a bit of wading around. It was nice to to cool off on another hot day. I read today that this whole area is very much a high desert plateau, and gets less than 1ft of rain a year. No wonder it's so hot. They must get snow as well though, as there are quite a few snow-mobile trails around. I bet thats great fun bombing around on those things in the winter!
I also did a bit of amateur wildlife photography. I have decided that the cricket (the animal, not the sport at which England are now officially the world's best) is the perfect model. I was able to put my lens inches from this little guy, and he never moved. It might well have been asleep to be honest!
As I was leaving the park, I saw a couple of cyclists riding into town, so went and said hello. Suzanne and Don were riding the TransAm from Oregon to Colorado, and then hoping to finish the other half next summer. After having a bit of a chat, we all went and had dinner together. They were great company, and as ever it was good to be able to swap places to stay and what not. Suzanne was quite an experienced cycle tourist, having previously done the Northern Tier route across the States (its one that kind of hugs the Canadian border most of the way) as well as a tour down from Alaska. Don was riding a bike which had an electric motor for extra assistance. Apparently it can quite easily get up to 20mph or more on a flat road – I could have shot across the country on one of those! They also very kindly paid for my dinner. Yet more very generous people.
|Suzanne and Don - great people|
So tomorrow I should finally do those climbs. And I might even try getting a bit further than Prairie City if I can. But it was nice to take a nice relaxed day, and do a little exploring. Sometimes I get a bit wrapped up in the physical challenge part of what I'm doing that I kind of forget there should be more to my trip than just saying I rode my bike across America – I should experience America a bit too.