Posted by: bikedave | June 25, 2010

June 23, Baker City, OR to Halfway, OR

We left the RV park and went east on Highway 86.  About 5 miles outside of town the highway crosses over the old Oregon Trail. We met nearby, at the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center.  There were many different displays, including a life sized wagon train, with stuffed animals and figures of emigrants, that visitors walk through as they enter the display area.  The detail on the animals was impressive, down to the beads of moisture on the oxen’s whiskers near their wet noses, and the flies which were on their faces.  We learned that 1 in ten people that started the trip to The Oregon Territory died en route.  They died mostly from Cholera and accidents.

Vicki found a friend

Yesterday, I followed the powder rive rnorth into Baker City.  The river continues generally north for about 23 miles before turning southeast.  It empties into the Snake river east of Richland, OR.  Highway 86 heads east from baker City, goes over Flagstaff Hill then drops down to re-join the Powder River for it’s run into Richland.

Hwy 86 looking east from the Oregon Trail Interperative Center towards Flagstaff Hill

After re-joining the powder river, I noticed a big buck bedded down under one of the few trees in the area.  He was only a few feet from the road.  I don’t know why he didn’t jump up and run when I passed by.

Big buck

Later in the day I would see an adult deer with two youngsters on the oposite bank of the river, and a single adult  that came crashing out of some bushes about 20 feet from the side of the road as I passed.

When I first re-joined the Powder River, the terrain was rolling hills, but soon the river entered a canyon.  I took my time and watched the wild life near the river.  I saw deer, ospreys, a blue Hereon, doves, and the ubiquitous red wing blackbirds.  The road was narrow with no shoulder, so sometimes it was necessary for me to slow down and ride in the gravel to allow cars to pass.  This can be a little dicey if the gravel is thick and loose.  I was passed in this manner by a lady in a small pickup.  She stopped in a wide spot ahead of me and offered me some iced water when I reached her.  It was very refreshing, and we had a nice conversation.  She was nice enough to later stop in Richland where Vicki was waiting for me, and tell Vicki of my progress.  She and Vicki also had a nice conversation.

Rolling Hills

Powder River Canyon

I met up with Vicki in Richland where we purchased some groceries, then I left for Halfway, OR.  There is a long climb up over a pass before descending  towards Halfway where Vicki and I spent the night.

Just before cresting the hill between Richland and Halfway, the wind picked up quite a bit and became gusty.  On most downhills the highest speed I’ll see is around 36 mph.  I can control the speed by changing my riding position.  If I sit up straight there is more wind resistance and the bike goes downhill slower.  If I want to speed up I can lean forward with my head just above the handlebars to decrease wind resistance.  When I started down this hill the wind was in my face.  The bike was only going 20 something, but the wind in my face felt like I was going 40.  I went around a switchback and my headwind changed to a tailwind.  I was suddenly moving as fast as the wind so it felt like there was no wind at all.   As the bike sped up I could start to feel wind in my face.  I crouched down to let the bike accelerate to its top speed. The wind in my face felt like 30 mph but my actual speed was 48Mph.  48 mph on a bicycle feels really fast!  I sat up straight to slow the bike for the next turn, used a little braking, then cruised around the curve. The road ahead flattened out, and up ahead I could see Vicki parked in a nice pull out where we could spend the night.

Miles today: 48   Total miles: 485

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