July 14, 2001

7/14/01 Ochoco Divide

55.6 / 4616 miles

Kind of hard getting a good nights sleep on the floor, even with an air matress. Emily tented outside next to the church, probably got better sleep than the rest of us. So, it didn't take much to get us all up and going early.

Had a nice view of the valley in the early morning sun. Traffic was very light. Saw one guy on a motorcycle pulling a trailer with a Plexiglas bubble windows at the front so his two dogs could see. Up ahead was a narrow gorge but I thought we would turn before that. I was fortunately wrong.

Painted Gorge

The Painted Gorge is by far the narrowest canyon I've been through. The morning sun on the high cliff-tops was awesome. The view didn't diminish at all when it split off toward the John Day Fossil Beds Visitor Center. Our route followed Mountain Creek up out of the gorge.

After so much beauty, it was disappointing to chug uphill for the next twenty miles. It seemed to go on forever. At one point, I thought my odometer was broken because the numbers weren't changing. They were, but it was painfully slow.

The downhill from Keyes Summit (4357') went all the way into the town of Mitchell. No kidding, I didn't have to pedal once for the whole seven miles.

Another downhill, this time into Mitchell, OR

I was hungry, so I stopped in a greasy-spoon called the Sidewalk Cafe. While eating my burger, the waitress/cook was questioning the regular customers about Bush's tax refund. "I know the big spenders will get their cut first and if there is any left over, we should get some." she said. "I wish the government realized that it's the little guy that makes this country what it is."

I wandered about town to visit Henry, Mitchell's black bear. He was given a home here when it was found out he was going to be destroyed back in Iowa. I have to say he was the healthiest black bear I've ever seen in captivity. Signs hanging up on the fence try to educate the public about bears and how to coexist with them in the wild.

Mysterious tree of shoes!
In the middle of nowhere!

Again, it was getting hot. Had a bit of downhill until we started following the West Branch Bridge Creek. Although this climb was shorter than Keyes Summit, it was higher (thus steeper). It was slow going and I stopped frequently. Near the top, I almost caught up with Emily. So even though this was only a 50-mile day, we climbed over 5000'. Once I sat down at the Ochoco Divide campsite, I was exhausted.