In theory, today should have been easier than the last time I did this route in 2011. I had less miles due to going further yesterday. I knew the route (last time, I was unsure if I was on the correct road for part of the route--I was). I'm in better shape. This time, not only am I riding a lighter bike, but I also was not carrying extra water (although, that was a mistake). All in all, it should have been easier. Then, why didn't it seem easier? Why did it, in fact, seem harder?
I left Humbug Campground at 8:20--later than usual. Anticipating a hot day with lots of climbing, I even put some chamois cream on! The day started out as expected; continuing yesterday's climb following the Breitenbush River for several more miles on FS 46. After passing the turnoff for the hot springs and Retreat Center, I was no longer beside the river.
As I was chugging along, I saw this sign.
Now, I assume that means helicopters land here. However, look what is above the sign. Yes, that would be power lines--and there was another set just to the left. Seems like not the best place to land a helicopter. Also, I would see those power lines again, but from a much higher elevation!
I continued along in Super Granny Gear. I did not turn on my music. I was saving that for the second big climb of the day. There were very few cars, so I took the liberty of following the grade when I came to curves in the road as I did climbing McKenzie Pass.
I didn't remember the hairpin turn, but after I came around it, I remembered taking a photo of the next section. It was continuing up, but with a squiggle to it. I remembered that I thought it looked interesting. I also remembered that after the squiggly part, I would be near the end of the first climb. Yay!!!
Then, I had a whole bunch of downhill. Woo Hoo!
Two years ago, I now know that I misread my map. The map read, "Continue on unsigned FS 46." The following narrative said, "After the bridge, turn right on FS 42". I thought the right turn after the bridge was unsigned. I assumed I was on the correct road, but when it was just a one-lane road, I got a little nervous. Because I thought it was unsigned, I never looked for the sign at the turn. It wasn't until later in the climb that I finally saw a sign that said I was, indeed, on FS 42.
Today, I knew it was the correct road, and when I made the turn, there was the 42 sign. Granted, it was small, but had I been looking for it, I probably would have seen it (and saved myself a lot of self-doubt).
From the turn, it was about 8 1/2 miles of climbing--much of it pretty steep climbing. There was a lot more traffic this time (which is to say, not that much, because last time there was hardly any--which also contributed to my self-doubt). There had been a sign telling log truck drivers what CB channel to tune into. Sure enough, there were three log trucks that passed me. Coincidently, I happened to be pulled off the road each time. That was good because, as I said, it is primarily a one-lane road with the occasional pull-out.
This time, I was not carrying extra water. That was not the best choice. I knew I wouldn't have any opportunity to refill water until the campground, but I didn't think it would be that long. Afterall, I had less miles than last time. It was clear about halfway through the climb that I was going to run short on water. That, alone, makes the ride seem more difficult. I try to ration my water, and that's just no fun.
As I was slogging along, I saw three cyclists coming toward me. I stopped, and so did they. I told them I was ready for the climbing to be done. I also told them they had a heck of a downhill. They told me I was almost to the top, and that I too, would have a good downhill. Sure enough, as I got to the top of the hill I was climbing, I saw the sign for Summit Lake CG. Last time I had planned to stay there, but it was closed, and I had gone on to, what I thought, was Clackamas Lake CG.
I knew Clackamas Lake had water (even though the ACA map said it didn't), so I planned to stay there again. As I came down, I saw the sign for the campground, only it was to the right. I was pretty sure where I had stayed before was to the left. Then I was concerned that, maybe, I hadn't stayed at Clackamas Lake, and, maybe, the real Clackamas Lake CG didn't have water! So, I continued on.
Just a few hundred feet more down the road, I came to the Historic Clackamas Lake Ranger Station. What did I spy that, I swear, had a halo of light around it? A DRINKING FOUNTAIN!!! As I parked Betsy and took my water bottle up to the fountain, I said this little mantra--"Please be working! Please be working!" Lo and behold, IT WAS WORKING!!! I guzzled down nearly a full 24 ounces! Water never tasted so good!!! I refilled both my bottles. Now I was good no matter where the campground was! By the way, I also have no memory of this ranger station. Since it is Historic and all, I'm sure it was there last time!
There was a sign at the ranger station telling where there were public restrooms (apparently, what looked like a restroom, was not--I sure didn't need one anyway!). One of the places mentioned was Joe Graham Horse Camp. Ahhhh...that's where I stayed before! However, as I made my way down the road, thoroughly refreshed with water, I saw the sign for Timothy Lake--2 miles. SHEESH! Now that I had water, 2 more miles was nothing!
I turned into the first campground on Timothy Lake. It's called Oak Fork. I found a site and set up my camp. Since there were no pay envelopes in the kiosk, I figured someone would come around. In the meantime, I went for a swim (yep, third night with no shower).
Panorama of Timothy Lake
Post swim selfie.
Nice biker tan!
When I got back to my site and changed, I sat down to compose this blog post. A gentleman named Ron pulled up in his campground tractor. He asked if his wife had registered me. I told him no and he said he had a deal for me. He would not charge me because I was on a bike and only staying one night (and the campground is far from full). Ron and his wife Dee are the camp hosts for Oak Fork. Their boss, Paul, tells them to not charge the cyclists because he, himself, is a cyclist and thinks the cyclists should be treated well and not have to pay! How awesome is that? So, if you happen to be cycling near Timothy Lake, stay at Oak Fork. Ron and Dee will treat you right!
Later, as I continued to write this, a guy named Everett and his Australian Blue Heeler/Black Lab dog, Avalanche, stopped by to ask where I was biking from. He is on a motorcycle pulling a canoe. Avalanche rides in the canoe! He is criss-crossing the Cascades and Coastal Range, bouncing from the Coast to the Mountains and back again. That is definitely a trip best done on a motorcycle!
So, here is my theory about last time versus this time. I think it's like childbirth. After awhile, you don't remember the pain being all that bad (I think that is why people have more than one kid). I'm sure it was just as difficult last time. I just don't remember...