Awesome adventurous day today! I got a later start out of Baker City than I would have liked because I passed out last night around 8. That meant lots of packing this morning. After packing I went and got breakfast provided by the motel. It was really good! Bagels, cream stuffed waffles, jimmy dean sausages, and tea were all on the menu so I loaded up. That got me started around 8. I rolled out of Baker along a northern road out into the desert.
It was clear that we were leaving behind the forests of the last few days and entering a new biome. The route started off with a climb up the highland, passing by a monument to the Oregon Trail. In another mile I passed by an entire interpretive center dedicated to the trail, but it was closed (and at the top of a 300 foot climb so I probably wouldn’t have gone anyways). There was a beautiful view of the valley I’d just climbed out of, though. After some long straightaways with fantastic views of the mountains to come, I began descending.
These descents were fast and awesome, and seemed to go on forever. Eventually I reached the other side of the hills I’d been descending and joined back up with the Powder River, the same river I’d followed yesterday into Baker City. I would follow it for almost 20 miles through remote canyons with tall buttes and hills on both sides.
I passed am interpretive center dedicated to a landslide in the 1980s which had destroyed the road that used to run through this valley. It was called the hole in the wall slide, and had cut off many people living in the area. A few years later they rebuilt the road on the other side of the canyon. The former road is still visible in areas though.
Eventually I emerged from the valley into hilly farmland around Richland. I wound for several miles around the hills surrounding the town before arriving in the town proper. It was around 11 and I stopped for lunch at a little cafe. I got a burger with jalapeno and whiskey mustard and a wild berry shake. It was super good. They refilled my bottles with ice water and I was off. I spotted the couple I’ve been riding with the for the last few days in town. We talked for a second and they told me they were trying to make it to Oxbow that night. I said I was planning for the town of Halfway (before Oxbow), then took off.
Time to climb in the heat. I had about 1000 feet of climbing to do in the midday heat on a shadeless hill. I settled in for it. It was rough going, and about halfway through I became convinced my rear tire was leaking air. It wasn’t but I became paranoid. I went through a lot of water, and generally was feeling pretty bummed. Eventually I crested what turned out to be a false summit. And got plenty of rest. I prepared to do the downhill, but then realized I had another short steep climb, then I was at the real summit. Interestingly this hill had no name. The road sign just called it ‘Summit’. Note to self: the summit usually has a sign warning trucks of a downhill. Keep that in mind.
I descended the backside of the summit and it was crazy steep and long. Super fun, minus the cars. I rounded a long bend at the base and saw a truck that had seemingly broken it’s front axle. I came to a crossroads and had a decision to make. I could turn left for a 1 mile detour into the town of Halfway or continue straight on the route to try and make it to Oxbow. I elected to go to Halfway and check out the campsite and stock up on drinks. It was a charming little town and I got some snacks there. I ran into one of the tourers from the hostel in Mitchell a few nights ago who was trying to do all of Hells Canyon today. Good luck to him, that sounds brutal.
It was the hottest part of the day so I decided to wait it out and plan my next move. I went to the library and found it just opening. It was air conditioned and had wifi. Perfect. I’d checked out the campsite in Halfway and it was just an RV park so I decided to try for Oxbow after the heat died down, another 20 or so miles. I tried to reserve a site at the campground online but they didn’t allow same day reservations for some reason. The library lady let me refill my bottles then I set off. The afternoon heat was still oppressive but rapidly cooling. For the first time on the trip it was slightly humid. I rode across a long straight flat road into the canyon that would take me to Oxbow. It got warmer as I descended with small streams off to my right.
I came across the couple after a few miles and let them know what I’d found out about camping (not much tbh). We rode together for a bit. I stopped and asked a man on his porch about camping and he said there was free camping up the canyon. We stopped at a small store that the couple had heard about the previous day called Scotty’s and got some ice cream. It was delicious. Just a few more miles and we reached the campsite. They offered to split a campsite and I said heck yes. We sat around and are for a bit then went over to the massive snake river and went swimming. I took a shower, made some dinner, then headed to bed, where I’m writing this. Overall it was really fun sharing a campsite with other tourers. They were super nice and even shared dinner with me. I hope we keep riding together for a bit.
Anyways I’m exhausted. Goodnight!
- Waffle with cream filling
- Everything bagel
- Jimmy Dean breakfast sausage
- Milk carton
- Wild berry smoothie
- Pint of ice cream
- Mashed potatoes
- Vege and bean stew (not mine, the couple offered)