July 12, 2001

7/12/01 Dixie Summit

62.4 / 4503 miles

Said good-bye to the guys from Sacramento, and headed back through town. Lots of different styles of architecture. The Baker City Bakery had a nice ring to it, so I stopped. Since today's cinnamon rolls weren't out yet, I got one of yesterdays for 75¢. And it was huge! "I wish I'd done something like your bike trip thirty years ago." the baker said. "But then I should have opened this bakery back then too." He told me that after working in jobs he didn't like all his life, he'd finally turned his hobby into this baker about five months ago.

The plan for the day was to climb over three passes over 5000'. But it seemed we got an early taste climbing as we passed Phillips Lake. I could see Emily's white shirt off in the distance.

At McEwen, I checked out the narrow gauge Sumpter Valley Railroad. It only runs on weekends during the summer but there were quite a few cars and a steam engine on the tracks. After that, it was a steep climb up to Sumpter Summit (5082').

The Sumpter Valley Railroad engine

This scenery is so different than what I'm used to. Trees, lots of trees, plus the smell of pine. Passed the ghost town of Whilney, then on to Tipton Summit (5124').

I guess things come in three's besides summits. As I was starting to enjoy the downhill off Sumpter Summit, I spot three cyclists coming up. Turns out to be Daniel and Ariane, my internet friends from Switzerland. We've been trading emails since before the trip as we each got ready. It's so nice to put faces to the names. The third rider was Bill from Ohio, headed also for Virginia, and one of the few besides me to do this trip on a mountain bike.

My Swiss friends, Ariane & Daniel

As I approached Tipton Summit, nasty thunderclouds were forming at the top. Look's like my friends, the weather gods want to play. At first it just rained a little but they were very cold, big drops. Then I started to feel something solid. Hail, about the size of a chickpea started to pelt me. I parked the bike and rain for the trees, hoping the hail wouldn't get any bigger. It didn't last long and the rain started to lessen. I didn't get down the road a hundred yards before it started again, only this time harder. Again, from the shelter of a tree, I watched the chaotic acrobatics of the hail as it bounced off the gravel shoulder. Before it quit completely, the sun came out to shine upon the melting hail. I know it sounds silly, but I was having fun, laughing with the weather gods.

Started the long descent off the summit. That's what I always hate, working so hard to climb up, only to take minutes to fly down to do it again. Met Emily briefly at the store at Austin Junction.

Now was the biggest of the three, Dixie Summit at 5277'. The road was gradual but continued dark clouds lent an urgency to the seven mile ride to the top. I guess after meeting my friends, then the hail, our third was an easy climb. I was shocked when I rounded the corner and saw the sign for the Dixie Summit Campground.

As busy as some of the campgrounds in Idaho were, we found ourselves in an empty campground. After setting up camp, Emily and I talked a bit. Turns out she was a Peace Corp volunteer in Ethiopia. Now she works at a shelter for battered women. Her partner, Peter, is an acupuncturist. I really enjoyed her stories. She definitely feels like a kindred spirit.