This would be the first real climb of the trip. McKenzie Bridge
sits at about 1800', and the top of McKenzie pass is at 5300'. As
it turns out the climb was not that difficult, just long. During
the climb I was only making around 6 miles per hour, but the scenery
was so incredible I didn't mind. McKenzie pass is an "Oregon
scenic byway"; and it starts out by winding through the Williamette
national forest. Most of the early section is in shade and feels
very magical. As the road became steeper some of the insects
would pace with me, mostly bees and the occasional butterfly. I
think they thought I was a flower, but couldn't quite work out the
details. They kept landing on the bike and lifting off again.
Above about 4000' I began to notice my breath becoming a little
shorter. The trees thinned out and more of the ride was in the
sun and next to the rocks. An occasional view of the Sisters
would peak through the treetops, teasing me with the thought that I was
close to the summit.
Near the top the pass plateaus for a few miles. It was there I
passed this little alpine pond. The mosquitos were thick so I
couldn't stay long.
The Cascade mountain range is still volcanically active, and 400 years
ago this lava was laid down near the summit of the pass.
Also near the summit, a view of the North and Middle Sister. The
South Sister is obscured. Notice the sharp relief between the
lava flow and the forest.
At last the pass, after about three hours of pedaling. This
picture was taken by a nice lady named Kathleen who was interested in
the recumbent. (At least once a day I go into the spiel about why I
like the recumbent, I have become resigned to this).
The descent into Sisters OR was fast and fun. You don't descend
as far as you climb up, but still it is 40 miles per hour for a good 10
minutes. At one point a Harley passed me, with the rider
enthusiastically shouting: "Dude! 40 miles per hour!". He must
not have realized that I had my own speedometer :).
Once in Sisters I saw a group of bicycles heavily loaded for distance
touring. They were parked at a fruit stand, so I stopped and
chatted. It was a family from New Hampshire: Rick, Paula, and
daughter Hannah, were riding cross country following a combination of
the TA and the Lewis and Clark trail. They had started in
Portland and had been on the road for two weeks. Paula was
disappointed that she had missed the famous quilt show in Sisters which
had ended the previous day.
Also at the fruit stand I chatted briefly with a fellow named Michael
who warned me that although you could buy lots of things in Sisters one
thing you emphatically could not get was socks and underwear. The
fruit stand clerk solemnly agreed; although no one had an explantion
for why this would be. I am still flush with socks and underwear
so I didn't sweat it.
Since Helen and I had planned to meet in Sisters we had arranged a
place to stay, the Blue Spruce bed and breakfast. Our host Vanel
made us feel very welcome, and I highly recommend anyone going through
Sisters stay here.
A twilight shot of the Three Sisters from Sisters.