Road Nervana

July 11

Today was the most amazing windy road riding that I can remember.  I rolled out of camp in Mount Rainier NP and first rode over the Chinook Pass and then back into the park.  The road was great and the views of the mountain were fantastic.  I made my way out the southwest corner of the park to Ashford.  The roads in the park had all manner of great corners and the traffic was light.  Those cars I did encounter quickly allowed me to pass.  Except for the richard cranium that pulled out right in front of me.

Once out of the park I went south on route 7 leading to Mount St. Helens.  This road went over a pass and was intense.  It had all manner of types of corners, sweeper, hairpins, esses and it was punctuated by any pavement irregularity that you can imagine.  The sudden dips mid-corner were sometimes very exciting, so to speak.  Especially when they also happened to be in a shadow from the trees.  That is one of the things with forest roads, you are in and out of shadow constantly and it can play tricks on you.

At Morton I went east to get to route 25 on the east side of Mt. St. Helens.  This road was very similar in terrain to route 7 but the pavement was way better, almost new.  The road to the Spirit Lake viewpoint was closed but the main road lead me to a few really nice views of the mountain which is barren on the east side after it blew its top in 1980.  From the end of 25 I took route 30 to the Columbia River.  This road was much faster in nature and I had a ball on the extra-legal sweepers.  All of these roads had light traffic which makes it way more fun.

I crossed the river into Hood River, Oregon.  Route 14 runs east along the north side of the river and is very scenic but not a thrill ride like the others.  There are a bunch of short tunnels that bore through the volcanic rock that comes right down to the river.  As I approached Hood River the water was a beehive of activity with dozens of wind surfers traveling every which-way.  The breeze from the west was stiff and they were hauling ass.  There were also dozens of kite surfers going at it.  It was very colorful and chaotic at the same time.  I hope the video captures the essence of the scene.  The bridge to Hood River is another steel grate deck affair.  This one is very narrow and the oncoming cars are right there.  The grating was a bit different and did not feel as out of control as the others I had crossed.  The stiff cross wind made up for the more secure deck by trying to blow me into the oncoming traffic, which was constant.  The Columbia River is wide so this was the longest one of these I had crossed.  I even got to pay seventy-five cents to have the shit scared out of me.  I do not like these kind of bridges on two wheels.

Once in Oregon I took route 35 into the Hood National Forest.  This is another great windy road that is mostly fast corners.  The views of Mount Hood are cool as well.  Just past Government Camp I took some forest service roads toward Breitenbush Hot Springs.  These roads were great, narrow, windy as hell and no traffic.  After about ten miles on FS 42 it become one lane with pullouts for opposing traffic.  It retained its twisty nature and I misbehaved to my heart’s content.  It is a good thing no animals sprang out of the forest into my path because there is not much room to maneuver.  I wound my way to Breitenbush and found a great campground next to a river.  It turns out that the hot springs is a private resort and all booked up.

This campground is a real hidden gem, water, toilets, the river and the dense forest.  I went down to the river hoping to swim and call it a bath but I did not dare to go all in; it was cold.  I did get in a ways and dunked my head a few times but I could not see submerging more delicates parts.  Later I tried to catch fish but had no luck.  There was pretty good insect activity on the water and I could imitate the patterns but I saw no fish action.  There were some kids catching stocked trout on worms; not my thing so I had dinner.

The forests in this region continue to enchant me.  They are so lush and dense.  I even found some wild strawberries near the river.  In the middle of the day when the sun is overhead the way the light penetrates the canopy and lights up the floor is, to me, really cool.  I could wander in the forest all afternoon just reveling in its diversity.  I certainly could retire to this area.

Tomorrow I will head for the coast west of Eugene and try and stop at Rose City Archery, the largest manufacturer of wooden arrow shafts that I know of.  They used to give tours of the place and I would like to see it if I can.  I traveled 330 miles today and it was all a gas and hard work concentrating on non-stop corners taken at highly entertaining speed.  Tomorrow probably holds more action judging by the map.

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