Sunday, September 27, 2009

Day 12! The Big Climb

We got up around 6:00, before dawn, and started packing up, making breakfast and pumping water. The whole routine took a little over and hour and a half and we rolled out of camp at 7:40. We had to make a quick stop for a picture.

It turns out that Anthony had ulterior motives for choosing the route he did. This is the first of two bridges where we had to stop to take pictures. See, this bridge is one he is drafting for it's remodel at work.

The pictures were quickly dispatched and we were on our way, up, up, up. I quickly decided that I would take a break once an hour. More would impede my progress too much. Less and I wouldn't have enough to look forward to. Anthony and Davan stopped more often, though, as they rode faster and would stop to wait for me. That worked well because Davan got to get off the bike more often, which, this day, she really needed. Plus, they got to take pictures of me grinding up the mountain:

We went three miles in the first hour. Three. It was sobering. 17 miles of climbing. Three miles an hour. That'd be six hours of climbing, plus breaks. If that pace kept up, we we at the top of the climb around 1:40, after starting the climb at 7:40. That's a long time to climb.

Things improved, though, and we hit some stretches that weren't at quite such a steep grade. Our speed picked up. We started the day under cover of clouds, which was good for working so hard. Even with the rather high, mind you, cloud cover, we were sweating. We reached the clouds, rode through them, got above them:

and were still only about half way done climbing.

Early in the day, for maybe the first two hours, the only cars we saw were a caravan of vehicles obviously going to pick up some river rafters with passenger vans and trucks pulling flat trailers. Then the traffic started to pick up some as the day went on, with maybe an average of 10 cars an hour.

We got to the summit of Bear Camp Road shortly after high noon and stopped for lunch:

I'll tell you what, Triscits, peanut butter and fruit spread never tasted so good. Even though we'd eaten on the way up at breaks, we were very hungry. It was beautiful at the top and we were pleased to find a picnic table and vault toilets. Before this trip, we'd probably never have been happy to see a questionable outhouse, but anyplace more or less clean to sit with tp available was a welcome sight most days.

Anthony was pretty whipped by the top. Davan was happy to be done with the hill and had been really dragging the last hour or so of the climb. Me? Once again, by the top, I was in the lead. My endorphins totally kicked in and I was a happy rider. I felt so awesome and empowered by the time we got to the top. I was really proud of having done it. Not that I would have been happy to see more climbing ahead...

Then it was time for the decent. Well, first, there was just a little decent, then some going along a ridge with ups and downs, then the decent. We descended for at least a half an hour and it would have been great fun except...our hands got crampy from holding onto the breaks! The road was too steep and curvy to just let the bikes go, so we had to keep the breaks on pretty much the whole time. Still, it was fun and so nice to have all those miles go so quickly after the slow, slow miles of the morning.

Speaking of breaks, I don't think I've explained yet about the drag break on the tandem. Anthony, a few years back, once we started doing bike camping trips, installed a drag break on the tandem so he could set it on hills and save the breaks. One camping trip, in particular, had stripped off pretty much all the rubber on some pretty new breaks, so it was obvious that he needed more breaking power. On this trip, he would just set the drag break at the top of most hills and it worked pretty well to modulate the speed on the tandem. Still, there were hills, especially this one, where the drag break wasn't enough and he had to use the hand breaks, as well.

Near the end of Bear Camp Road, we came across this sign:

We'd hopped to find a summit sign at the top of the pass, but there wasn't one. Still, this sign told how high we'd climbed. Agness's elevation is about 250 ft.

At the very end of Bear Camp Road, after 37 miles of climb and decent, we came to Galice, which, although it's technically a town, really doesn't seem like it should be. It was just a little store, smaller than a convenience store, really, and river rafting guide center. I went in to see about getting food for dinner, but the only item I was even half interested in buying was raisins and it was $5 for the smallish box. No thanks. We planned instead to eat dinner out of our stock supplies - a soup of bulgar wheat, red lentils and freeze dried veggies.

We were back along the Rouge and looking for a place to camp. Even though we'd only done 37 miles that day, people were done, done, done. After a total of 41.2 miles of riding, we found Indian Mary Campground. I'd wanted to look for free camping again, but Anthony was inclined toward developed camping and we were pretty tired and it looked like a nice place. So, we camped.

First order of business, more food. We had a bag of Sunchips I'd been carrying about and we first ate all of those. Then Davan and I splashed a little in the Rouge while Anthony went to shower. We skipped washing clothes because we were planning on stopping at a laundromat the next day in Grant's Pass. Then we were hungry again and ate our soup. Anthony hadn't seen the river yet, so we walked back down. Davan played at the playground, making friends with a little boy of about four. Then we were hungry again and Anthony made the last of our pancakes.

When the sun started going down, I was more than ready for bed and we let Davan know she could stay up and play some more if she wanted, but we were getting into bed. Davan opted to say goodnight to her friend and join us. The 11 year old going to bed well before the 4 year old was a little funny, but thus was our schedule on the trip.

Before I leave you for the day, I need to share a little about Indian Mary, as she was known in the area. There were signs up telling her story. Several signs talked about her good works with the Salvation Army. However, she had a little history, Indian Mary did. Her first husband and her father shot and killed each other in an argument about one shooting the other's dog. After this, Indian Mary applied for homestead rights on the land where her father had been squatting. This is the land that became the campground later.

She remarried and was, apparently, rather subjugated by this next husband, who was run off, eventually, by a "hunting buddy" who became her next husband. This third husband eventually "disappeared." Now her land is this campground - touted as the most family friendly campground in Oregon. I find this to be a bit ironic.

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