August 31, 2022 Comments Off on Double whammy
I had started Day 4 in Camp Nelson feeling kind of glum because the situation with the provender promised to be a bit on the harsh side. I had oatmeal on order for breakfast (blagh), peanut butter on English muffins for lunch (blaggh), and dried potatoes with tuna and part of an onion for dinner. It would be enough, but not a lot more than enough.
I left my magical camp around 7:00, and since the store didn’t open until 10:00 I resigned myself to thin rations for a couple of days. On the bright side it was an 8-mile descent to my turnoff, and then a brief 4-mile climb up to the campground on the Tule River.
Imagine my glee when, a mere mile down the highway, I saw a store, and better yet an open store, and wildly better even than that, a store annexed to a cafe! I parked, entered, and sadly saw that the cafe wasn’t open. I was nonetheless glad to be able to buy milk, jerky, and chocolate, and as the lady rang me up I commented on my disappointment at the status of the cafe.
“It opens in an hour but that’s probably too long for you to wait,” she said.
“Only an hour? No problem!”
And there, ninety minutes later, I was seated, staring down a massive plate of eggs, bacon, sausage, toast smothered in real butter, and a heaping side of pan-fried potatoes. This is what I love about bikepacking. One minute you’re wondering what the hell you’ve done, and the next minute you find out.
My legs were coming around too, so with that breakfast whammy out of the way all I had to do was coast downhill to the turnoff and I’d be at my destination well before noon.
That’s when the second whammy showed up, and not the good kind. The downhill coast was indeed amazing and effortless and fast, but the moment I turned right I had a nasty suspicion that the next four miles were going to be hideous. And they were. It was so steep, and my bike and pack so heavy, and my legs so weak, that it took an hour to reach the top, including three or four stops.
Yet the pinnacle was beyond anything I could have imagined. Searingly hot at the bottom of the climb, a mere 1,300 feet higher at just under 4,000 feet, the point where the road crossed the river ushered in one of the most lush, cool, and stunningly beautiful places I have ever seen, though I did have to leave the road and bushwhack a bit to find it.
Giant stones, giant trees, giant coolness, and most incredibly, giant silence of all things human wrapped my little campsite like a magical cocoon.
Sometimes in order to get the jam, you got to take the wham.