Down and Out in Baker City

For the rest of this week, Steve Rothwell will be giving his take on our daily progress. Take it away Steve! 

John Day OR to Baker City OR- 82 miles


All in the family: The Rushtons bail us out in Baker City

All in the family: The Rushtons bail us out in Baker City


The incredible kindness of strangers...

Monday's route was John Day to Baker City, three mountain passes then 30 miles down hill into Baker City.

We tried to get on the road early but didn't quite pull it off. Awake at 5:15 and rolling by 7:15. We are trying to get used to early starts so we can finish before the heat of the day. Today was in the 80s but later in the week we can expect 100s.

We left John Day with a modest uphill climb to Prairie City, a one stop sign town with a block long Main Street. Along the way we saw pronghorn antelope and mule deer. After a quick snack in town we started the 6 mile, 4% climb to Dixie Pass.


Wagons ho! The crew on Dixie Pass

Wagons ho! The crew on Dixie Pass


Everybody did great on the climb and equally as well on the 7 mile drop into Austin Junction. By 10am we were eating pancakes, eggs, and bacon at the Austin House Cafe, our last opportunity for the next 50 miles.

A mile down the road we filled out water bottles from a local spring. For many of the guys, that was a first!

Ahead of us were a seven mile and a four mile climb over Tipton and Sumpter Passes, respectively. The valleys between are long meadows with the occasional cattle. Fir tree covered mountains surround the meadows.

Our hard work on the climbs was rewarded with a 30 mile descent along the Powder River into Baker City. The river was fast and clear and shared its energy with us and we pressed hard at over 20+ mph for more than an hour.

Once in Baker City we had to set about the task of finding a place to stay. We tried the doors at a couple of churches with no luck. A bike shop recommended a field near the YMCA pool. We got there to learn that it was city property and camping was not allowed.

When we initially arrived, a lady in a van who was picking up her kids asked our story and responded with a loud "AWESOME"! Next she offered to buy us all dinner. When she found out that we had no luck getting access to the park, she offered us the field at her LDS church a few miles away. The church sits in the heart of the valley. It's surrounded by wheat fields. In the distance is a 360 degree view of the mountains.

Kristen and Michael Rushton and 6 of their 10 kids took us to Pizza Hut and bought us dinner. Kristen was wonderful. She offered us everything from baby wipes, to blankets and pillows. She was genuinely thrilled by the scouts' adventure and accomplishments. Similarly, Michael  was impressed by the kids. He is an IronMan (3 Kona and multiple others) so we got a cyclist perspective of the road ahead.

A well earned bedtime view... 

A well earned bedtime view... 

Sleep came easy on a 4 inch bed of grass. Hell's Canyon lies ahead.