On day three, we knew we were going uphill, but we were pretty unprepared for the intensity of this particular uphill.
As soon as we left the campground it was uphill. This part was pretty steep until we got to an overlook that was out of this world. It gave you an almost 360 degree view of Diablo/Ross Lake and the surrounding mountains and we really didn’t want to leave. We knew we had a long day ahead though we didn’t stay long.
The hill became more gradual, which is nice, but it’s just constant pedaling with no breaks. It felt like we were just inching along. We had left before Gina and Dan, but they caught up to us fairly quickly. I chatted with Gina as she rode by and we weren’t sure if we’d see them again. We were stopping a lot and Ethan was walking and they were moving fairly steadily. So far we’d had nothing but sunny skies, which was fine when the riding was easy, but really obnoxious going up these mountains. Since we were in the mountains though, we had a pretty cool breeze that I would stop for every now and then to let it cool me down and dry my sweat.
After a few hours of chugging along, we realized we were running low on water. This was, by far, the hardest day of biking we’d ever had in all of our trips. We also had never riden that many miles without a place to stop for water. We decided that if the situation got dire, we’d stop and flag people down to see if they had water. We probably could have drank straight from the streams up there, but didn’t want to risk it. We also didn’t have food for lunch, but we did have left over oatmeal so we decided we’d eat that. I was getting a little nervous given our unpreparedness and my morale was getting prett low. I wanted to make sure we were being safe and smart.
We biked a bit longer and when we came around a bend we noticed Gina and Dave were stopped at a pull off. When we finally reached them they told us they had a water purifier and food to share! We were saved!! Ethan and Dan got water from the stream and Gina made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The mountain water was amazing and so refreshing and now we can say that we have literally drank glacier water. We both downed a full bottle and went back for more. The sandwiches were also amazing and gave us enough energy to get back on the road. We can never thank Gina and Dave enough for sharing with us that day.
While the day was excruciatingly difficult and slow, it was also beautiful beyond words. Every time we stopped we just kept looking around at all the snow capped peaks. There were also lots of little water falls coming down from the snow above that were very distracting. It was all I could do not to stop and put my head under them. We trucked along slowly but surely and made our way up, up, up toward Rainy Pass. We continued to stop and eat granola bars and take in the views.
As we neared the top of the pass we saw our first pile of snow. Again, wanted to stick my head in it, but resisted that temptation in the interest of time. Ethan had been walking faster than I was biking and at one point I noticed he had stopped by a guard rail. I rolled up to him and he said “do you notice anything different about my bag?” I looked and noticed he had gotten the bear spray out. I said “what for?” He said “what do you think?” It was all I could not to freak out as he told me he had seen a black bear just a few hundred yards ahead, crossing the road. Of course, Ethan had taken pictures before getting the spray out, but apparently a car had driven by and scared the bear up into the woods. Ethan showed me how to use the spray and we biked close together for the remainder of the hill. We weren’t super scared, just a little nervous.
We finally made it to Rainy Pass at 4855 ft after about 7 hours of biking. We stopped and took a picture, but had to continue because we had another pass to get to through. The road went downhill for a mile or so then went right back uphill. It was a short lived victory. It was another 4 miles up to Washington pass at 5477 ft. It took us almost 2 more hours to get there, but we made it. Dan and Gina had been there for a while and were just leaving. We took a picture by the sign (which we were almost too tired to smile for), but we’re running low on water and engery so we didn’t stay long.
It was 20 miles downhill and we couldn’t have been happier about it. The first part was kind of steep at times and a little scary. I pumped my brakes as best as I could, but then my hands started to cramp. The hill became more gradual and literally took us right into Mazama. As we came down the pass we were greeted with some seriously pretty views, but also hot and dry air. It was hot on the mountain, but this was way worse. We ended up riding down with Gina and Dan into Mazama and we all went straight to the only store in the “town” (it wasn’t much of a town). We got water and sat outside while we tried to figure out where to stay. Ethan had messaged some Warm Showers (like Coach Surfing) hosts, but the only ones in town were gone for the night. As we sat, two older gentlemen starting chatting with us about our trips and biking. They left and we went inside to buy some dinner food. We thought we were going to head out of town a little bit to a biker campground for the night, but while were inside the guys had come back and offered to let us camp in their yard that was only like 1/2 mile away. There wasn’t much debate and we packed our food and headed there.
The house wasn’t actually even done being built and the guys were there working on it. It was on the river and it was a really great spot. We made dinner and tried to rehydrate. We were all waking around like zombies and it was hard to put full sentences together. The house wasn’t finished, but they did have a barn type thing, with a full bathroom, so we took our first shower of the trip. Let me tell you, it felt amazing. It was short, but one of the best showers I’ve ever had.
We spent the rest of night in the hammock, relaxing. We had another long day with a big hill ahead.