Ross Dam Overlook to Okanogan
Pre day-2 discussion; Bob email to Joe and I:
“Surprise, our total elevation gain is over 8,000 feet, our estimated elevation gain was 1,600 feet off! 2,500 feet in 10 miles between miles 70-80. Super steep! Oh, and FYI, Wednesday is close to 9,000 elevation gain, not the 7,000 we had charted …” Joe’s response, “Good to know Bob.”
105 miles; over 8,000 feet of elevation gain! Tough, tough day in the saddle; this was one of the top 20 hardest centuries we have ridden and among the top 10 most beautiful. Stunning vistas, truly a magnificent highway (Hwy. 20; which closes for about 4-5 months a year due to 20(+) foot snowfalls! We encountered some smoke from long away forest fires and we saw tremendous damage from recent forest fires in the Okanogan National Forest. Very sad, this forest will not likely come back in our lifetime.
We had beautiful, well-maintained roads, with little shoulder but for the most part very courteous drivers. Except those two logging trucks when we were going down one of the steepest descents of the day. At speeds close to 40 mph, we got a good look at the sheer drop off to our right! White knuckles for Joe and I. Bob, from years of motorcycle riding, is a very good bike handler.
Two quick stories from today and a thank you to Scuba Steve for a fantastic day in the support van.
#1 Pacific Crest Trail Gnomes – while we were taking a bottle fill-up break, two dusty male travelers came from the trail out of the woods … the Pacific Crest Trail (Mexico border to Canadian border) crosses our bike route and these two timed it well for them. As soon as they came out of the woods from the trail Bob and Joe chatted them up. “How long have you been on the trail? Since March. Well, can we get you any snacks? Water, Gatorade, Coca Cola, Trail Mix? Yes, that would be nice. We will take whatever you are willing to part with --- would you like towelettes? Nope, we are good.” Obviously, they haven’t been around other hikers for a few days …
#2 “Joe / Bob, black bear, black bear!” Bob, “Carl that’s not real …” “Yes Bob, I think she is!” Going up one of today’s many hills I noticed a huge black bear (trophy size from my days in Alaska) that bear was about 120 – 150 feet off the road in someone’s open backyard – when we got to the other side of the backyard where we first saw the bear it was very interested in us – when we got to the other side of the house the bear was much more at ease. This was a magnificent bear, dark shiny black coat, big head and very inquisitive. Just think, it took us three weeks to see a large gator on our last trek and we got to see this magnificent bear on day 2! Oh, before you say, you guys aren’t well prepared … we had bear spray but it was in the Sprinter Van – we were going to begin carrying in Montana … we may begin carrying tomorrow.
Final shout-out: to our wives who saw us off from Joe and Gwen’s on Lake Cavanaugh very early this morning – thank you for indulging us for this time on RAA II. We remain very “over-chicked and blessed.” And to Scuba Steve: thanks for a fantastic second day. This was a tough day, but your humor and support made it that much easier.