June 26 Baker City to Ontario, Oregon

Oh, what a difference a downhill day makes!  We left Baker City — elevation 3,450 feet — early this morning and arrived in Ontario — elevation 2,150 feet — by mid-afternoon.  We also climbed 2,100 feet.  Work the math and we must have descended 3,400 feet, making for a very nice day.  This is truly the country where the skies are not cloudy all day. Today, they were not windy either, making everything easier.

A variety of minor maladies are affecting us.  Three guys sat out the day because of blistered bums.  Another had to drop out because of a sharp pain in his knee.  The Locomotive had to fly home to recover from the viral infection in his chest; he’ll rejoin us in Idaho Falls.  Come to think of it — it’s only the guys who are dropping like flies.  The women are doing fine.  Is this yet more evidence that women are stronger than we are?

The Snake is snaky

We’re getting a real education in the riverine West.  So far, we’ve followed the Columbia and Deschutes Rivers, Crooked Creek, the Powder River and the Burnt River (did the Powder River explode and burn the Burnt River?), the Malheur, the Payette, and today, the Snake River.  (You can see in the image at the left why they call it the Snake). Without exception, the rivers were filled to the verge of overflowing.  And there’s still plenty of snow left in the mountains.  It’s going to be an interesting flood season.

We’re now leaving the pine forests and entering potato country.  Orgeon’s pine forests look pristine and healthy.  In other words,  just like Colorado’s pine forests looked before the bark beetle got the upper hand in Mother Nature’s arms race. Bark beetles burrow in to a mature lodge pole pine, suck the life out of it, and then swarm to another tree to repeat the process.  Roughly 3.5 million acres are affected — that’s the size of Delaware. Forestry experts say 100,000 pine tress are falling in Colorado every day.  To control beetle colonies, you need temperature of minus 40 or so for a week or two. Colorado got such cold spells regularly in the past but no more. So the beetle colonies never die — they just come back every spring, more numerous and hungrier. And they’re moving west.  They’ve already crossed the continental divide.  They haven’t reached Oregon yet but I expect they will in the next five to seven years.  Memo to Oregon: enjoy the pine forests while you can.

Day’s distance: 84.7 miles (136.3km)
Average speed: 17.9 mph (28.8kph)
Day’s climb: 2,150 feet (655 meters)
Total distance: 583 miles (938.2km)

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5 Responses to June 26 Baker City to Ontario, Oregon

  1. "Loco" says:

    Great Snake River pic. Tell everybody I miss ’em. Bummer about all the SAG folks, just glad none of them are coughs! I built a sign-in sheet for the house so I could keep the habit. Just booked a return flight for next Sun. Will try to start on the trainer Wed or Thu as a “Rehab Assignment”.

  2. Ulf Casten says:

    Go Travis go! Still in the first state, what an exciting story!! You are the man!

  3. Cathey M Finlon says:

    Trav, am amazed that you have the energy end of day to write something cool. You sound like you are proceeding with gusto and having such a great time with the group. Vicariously, we are experiencing your wonderful ride. Maybe next year!

  4. chuck bartholomew says:

    I can sense an article for National Geographic coming out of this. Just got back from a Cherry Creek Reservoir trip and am ready for a nap. Can’t imagine the miles and uphill you all are doing. Sorry about Steve, but you can tell him to ride ahead and come back to meet you like he did in Austria to make up the miles. I much more enjoy reading than doing. Keep it up.

  5. Elena says:

    Wow!!! You are the man! Go for it!!
    Long days on your bike and you still have time to write? How do you manage?
    We are thinking about you here and following every mile you go!

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