August 14, 2017
Day 68, Whistle Punk Trailhead to Bonneville Trailhead, miles; 2147-2177
Miles ridden 30.1, trail time; 10:29, average speed; 2.9, minimum elevation; 136, maximum elevation; 3473, total ascent; 6273, total descent; 7183
A Whistle Punk was, in the day of steam donkey logging, the young man, often times not much more than a boy, whose job it was to blow the whistle signaling to the other loggers what the steam donkey was going to do, when it was clear to work, when a log was being pulled to the landing, etc. It was important work as all the loggers depended upon the Whistle Punk for their safety. The kiosk at the trailhead promised views of “huge and priceless artifacts” for those who ventured out on the interpretive walk. Janis and I ventured, but were sorely disappointed as the only artifacts to be found were the two at the trailhead, neither of which was huge or priceless. It was a nice walk never the less.
This is a long ride, 30 miles, with a lot of elevation change that came in big bites. The elevation graph looks like twin peaks with a big drop, 3500 feet down to the Columbia, at the end. The footing on that big drop was rocky making slow going, unlike the rest of the day that was really nice. The trail remained mostly in the trees though we would occasionally pop out for a quick view of the surrounding landscape. The biggest clearing was a clear cut through some active logging. Fortunately I was late enough in the day I missed the loggers and avoided a three mile logging road detour. I did hear the equipment and log trucks running earlier, sometimes they seemed very close but I never did see any.
I rode from Whistle Punk south to the Columbia River because of the misunderstanding of where to park Eric and Tammy’s shuttle truck yesterday. You wouldn’t think it would make much difference but it just feels wrong to be going south. Going south has one big advantage; you pass a lot more people when you are going against the flow. Familiar faces were the Ramblers, last seen at Windigo Pass in Central Oregon, Oliver, last seen at Seiad Valley in Northern California and Veggie from Castella.
August 13, 2017
Day 67, Whistle Punk to Crest Horse Camp or the Day of Torrential Rains, miles; 2177-2198
Miles ridden; 20, trail time; 5:17, average speed 3.8, minimum elevation; 932, maximum elevation; 4085, total ascent; 4463, total descent; 2129
Today I rode with Eric again and more importantly this time we were joined by his lovely bride, Tammy. It was our intention to ride from the Columbia River to Whistle Punk, but due to a small snafu in the placement of shuttle vehicles we modified our plan and rode form Whistle Punk to Crest Horse Camp. I’ll do the river to Whistle Punk leg tomorrow.
The weather forecast I saw before leaving home gave us an 80% chance of rain, Eric’s forecast was for 10%. During the night I was awoken by the sound of heavy rain on the camper roof, and when we got up this morning the mist was still hanging in the tree tops but I thought to myself perhaps that was Eric’s 10% last night and now we can expect some sunshine. Out on the trail it was cool, especially after the heat of recent weeks. The leaves on trailside brush and over hanging limbs were very wet and showered us at every opportunity. It was so warm when we left the trailhead that I dressed lightly, just a tee shirt and light hoody. At one point the mist was thick enough and the temperature continued to drop so I opted to put on my rain gear, more heat retention than a moisture prevention measure.
Eric thought that the forecast called for clear, sunny skies by 1:00 to go along with the 10% chance of rain, though he did confess the prediction was for Hood River which is well on the dry side of the Pacific Crest not the borderline wet side area we were at. Suddenly, in my mind, it seemed we were in a serious rain squall; Tammy, who like me isn’t all about riding in the rain, kept her own counsel. At any rate we rode the twenty miles under mostly overcast skies, through the trees, on perfect footing dirt trails, mostly gradually climbing, over the hills that gave the impression of being in soft focus, a typical Pacific Northwest Day.
August 15, 2017
Day 69 Crest Horse Camp to the 23 Road, miles: mileposts 2198 – 2230
Miles ridden; 32.2, trail time 9:39, average speed; 3.2, minimum elevation; 3400, maximum elevation; 5178, total ascent; 4970, total descent; 4484
I don’t know why they call it Crest Horse Camp. It isn’t on the crest, there are absolutely no horse related facilities, there is a dirt road – but it isn’t big enough to turn a truck and trailer around, there are a couple of picnic tables near parking spots barely large enough for a compact car. Years ago it was just a wide spot alongside the Carson-Guler road, now it is a wide spot along the Carson-Guler road with a vault toilet. There was a flat spot large enough for our truck, trailer and horses just outside the camp and that suited us just fine.
There was nice trail today through Indian Heaven. I did not make the one mile round trip to see the Indian Race Track, the meadow of 30 years ago was grown in with small trees ten years ago and I suppose pretty much gone today, another piece of history lost, I’d rather remember it as it was than know for sure it is gone.
I’ve been through Indian Heaven a few times in the past, however today was the first time it wasn’t cold, wet, foggy or raining. In fact it was a beautiful day just right for riding. Like the trail in Oregon and since the Columbia mostly we were in the trees. Occasionally there will be a place, a rock slide, old clear cut or some other reason that there is at least a partial view, enough to let you get your bearings and give you a taste of things to come. There are always hills to go up and down, but they aren’t steep and haven’t been long.
The trail crews have already been over the past 75 miles of trail this year. I didn’t count but in the last three days I have passed hundreds of freshly cut logs, a condition I greatly appreciate. I was surprised by the number of hikers passed today that I have passed previously, some more than once. Even more surprising is how many I remember. They don’t always remember my name, but they do remember Mercedes, Janis and Rose. Quite a few NOBOs skipped ahead enough that are now Southbound timing their arrival at Cascade Locks for this weekend and the PCT Days festival. I think between that crowd and the Eclipse crowd Oregon would be a good place to avoid for the next week.