Sunday, November 2, 2008

Home is where the bike is - Day 9

A certain someone has been yelling "Day 9, Day 9" at me for too long. I've been rather late in finishing off the ride report.

I'm not sure why, perhaps I didn't want it to stop then. Or perhaps I wanted to keep a bit for myself. Can't hold off forever, so I thought I'd finally write the last chapter. And so without further delay:

Day 9

I had been debating which way to go home as a straight shot on the highways seemed much too boring. There was what looked like a windy gravel road north of Manson and I thought I'd check it out. I was on the road at a reasonable time again and made my way north. The morning was quite chilly and I was glad that I'd worn an extra layer today (note: full length spandex cycling tights may look .. wrong, but worn under a pair of dual-sport pants on a cold day, they rock!).

I cruised along the north side of Lake Chelan and found myself in Manson around 9 am. What I couldn't find was the turn off to the gravel road. It looked easy on the map: Just drive till you hit the gravel. Real life was a bit more of a challenge. I did a number of loops through the orchards.

Eventually I stopped at a Firehouse where the guys and girls were rolling up some hoses. Sure enough, they were able to point me in the right direction. I asked if the road was in good condition and was told it was, just drive along and turn towards Gold Creek. Easy.

Things started extremely washboarded but beautiful. I played tag with a little VW rabbit as I was stopping to talk photos and he'd pass me. As soon as I got back on the road, I'd end up passing him.

The climb was fairly gentle and the road got smaller.

I had a bit of a wobble on the other side of this valley a few minutes earlier. And it had gotten pretty lonely. To the point where I was starting to see how many tire tracks I could see. At this point, there were still a couple of fresh ones, so I wasn't too concerned.

But it got more and more remote. I'd been riding for over an hour and started to make some rough calculations for when I would have to turn around based on the amount of gas I had. I'd estimated about 1 hour off road. This was going to take a lot longer and I wasn't entirely sure that I was going the right way...

And the road got smaller. And steeper.

_This_ was on the state map?! They must not have much to put on the map for this area of WA state...

The views were great though.

I wanted to go and push and keep the speed up, but I kept reminding myself that I was on a loaded KLR soloing ... and that I hadn't seen anyone besides some guys in a pickup about 40 minutes ago, and they didn't look all that friendly. Eventually I saw a 4x4 van, so at least there were people around. Not that I actually saw any.

At this point there was a single vehicle track. It had rained the previous morning, so this wasn't all that well travelled.

But it was nice and remote. And I didn't have to fight for road position.

I'd definitely climbed a bunch. What I mean is, I could pretty much see the summit. And then I saw some hikers. I stopped and they confirmed that I was headed the right way, and where to turn. We chatted for a bit. Their first words where "You came _that_ way?!"

Nice couple, they were getting ready to hike a bit.

The girl even offered to take a photo of me :)

Hey, I said they were nice, not that they were great photographers ;)

I was pretty happy to know I wouldn't have to retrace my tracks all the way back to Manson!

The 'road' ran along the ridgeline for a while longer and I enjoyed the views. If you look careful you can see the road I came from below.

I was headed roughly that-a-way

And there wasn't much around that was higher than I was :)

The descent got a bit sandy and I had one moment. Damn glad I didn't have metal side cases as I had to dab a foot at speed and my leg bounced off my soft bags. Not a big deal, but it would have been if they'd been metal. And then, I was at the bottom. And encountered the first signs of civilization

... such as it was.

From here it was all pretty simple. Hop on the highway. Go through the cascades. Pass a bunch of cars in the corners. Basic stuff.

The border. Canada. Familiar sights.


Well, for what it is.

As I sit here, on a dark November evening and write about the end of the trip, I sure wish I could go back to that deserted mountain trail. But then, there is always next year. Who knows what it will bring :)

I'll leave you with one final image from this trip from a few days previous.

I wish I could find some amazing, inspiring and life affirming insights to end this trip report with. But in the end, you have to have these experiences and find those things for yourself. You can't get them from a computer screen. And you can't let someone else have the adventures for you.

Of course, Mark Twain expressed it in a significantly more elegant way:

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."

Maybe that's all the wrap up this trip really needs.



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