Monday, July 11, 2011

Day 14 - Gorge-ous

The intention was too get up early and put in some miles before the wind got the better of us.  We knew we had two huge climbs coming up, and wanted to have as much energy and time as possible to tackle them.  The wind was actually blowing strong when we got up, but died off to a comfortable five miles per hour by the time we were packed up and heading out.

The first big climb began immediately.  We crossed the dam and then headed straight up.  The change in scenery was a welcome surprise.  The rocky cliffs looked like something out of a Wiley Coyote cartoon, and seemed misplaced in Washington.  You would never believe that we weren't in Utah or New Mexico.

We made it up the first four mile, five percent grade in the already hot morning and thought, "Well that wasn't so bad."  We plugged on for awhile and then began the long decent into what we are calling "Sulfur Springs Gorge."  I'm not sure what it is really called, but there was a spot on the map called Sulfur Springs that we never found, and so gave the name to this amazing place.

This was the longest and steepest decent that we had done yet, and it was like the longest roller coaster ride I had ever taken.  It was all at once terrifying and thrilling, as any good adventure should be.  The last sharp 200 feet of the 800 foot drop sent us barreling into a breath taking dry river valley with vertical rock walls on either side with strange green tones shining iridescently in the afternoon sun.

We began to climb the other side, back out of the gorge, and Brenton called out, "Echo!" and, after a significant pause, from around the bends you could hear his voice repeat the word two more times.  We climbed on.

After the windy day from hell  two days ago, Brenton had pulled a lot of weight out of my trailer and packed it onto his bike, even though I protested.  He was paying for it now.  This climb was steeper than the last, and a bit shorter, but we were not as fresh and it was quite significantly harder.

To take our minds off of the grueling effort, we looked for "treasure" on the side of the road.  We had already picked up all kinds of random stuff, from a car charger that fits my phone, (which I needed), to numerous dog toys.  We were nearing the top of our climb and already planning to stop and drink a beer as soon as we reached the summit, when I excitedly jumped off my bike, telling Brenton to hold it, and ran a few feet back up the road.  I came back smiling with an intact fishing pole and reel in my hand to replace the one that we had broken on the first day of the trip.

That fishing pole, along with our beer at the summit, made the day seem pretty successful; but it wasn't over yet.  The wind picked up a little every hour and the hills rolled on and on.  As usual, the last ten miles were the hardest.  They seemed endless, but it was harder on Brenton than it was on me, who said he had a harder time that day than he had on the windy day.  

We made it to Waterville with empty pits for stomachs and grabbed a burger and fish and chips at a little bar.  We found that the only place to camp was at the fairgrounds, where the gravel parking lot was filled with row after row of old RV hookups that seemed abandoned.  The bathroom was locked, but the water fixtures and outlets at the hookups worked.  We wandered up to the big building up the hill where we heard a mariachi band playing and chatted with the sheriff outside, who told us it was a wedding.  He was a super friendly guy who told us all about our next stop, Wenatchee, where he was from.

We went back downtown to check out "Waterville Days," a one day festival, but the festivities were over before we got there.  We went back into the bar where we had eaten dinner and had a couple of beers.  We chatted with the friendly staff and the owner/bartender told us a story of one of the town locals who got a DUI recently by driving home with his lights off to avoid being followed by a fat chic.  She said, "wouldn't it have been better to wake up next to a fat chic than with a dewey?"  We laughed, and had a really good time in that bar watching Bill, the big black lab, get scolded for trying to go into the kitchen.        

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