David: Today was one of those days that will stick in the memory for ever. When I am gaga with memory loss due to one fo the large number of conditions that affect the declining mind, this day will be imprinted so strongly on my consciousness that I will keep returning to it. It was long, tough and brilliant.
We started with a superb breakfast cooked by Doris. There is no end to her wonderfulness! Then 5 of the 6 of us left in convoy. Wayne cycles with an effortless style that is a joy to behold. Tom was doing fine and Bernie and Carolyn joined me in the “chugging along” brigade. We made our way out of Bend past a High School with sports facilities that were better than many universities back home and then out past some houses that indicated more money than taste.
Eventually we joined the 46 which wound its way up to Mount Batcholor and the ski area. The sun came through the early morning mist and the Three Sisters were visible off to our right. The road was not steep but the climbing was steady. Carolyn peeled off after about 10 miles as she had many other calls on her time, and then Wayne left us near the top. We started at 3800 feet and the top was about 6,300, but with the ups and downs to begin with we had climbed 3000 feet by the time we got to the top.
The cafe was open from Friday to Sunday and so – being a Thursday – it was closed. Frankly it did not seem that important. We could have brewed up if we wanted but decided to press on down a glorious descent that led to Sparks Lake. This was a wide flat area, between Mount Batcholor and the Three Sisters mountains, and with many trails heading off into the wilderness. There was a memorial to Oregon’s Photographer Laureate, who said that this was the most beustiful place in the whole state, and you could see why. Vast wild openness, and the majestic beauty of the mountains.
We pressed on along the Cascades Lakes Highway past a series of stunning lakes and reached Lava Lake for lunch.
There was a shop that sold coffee and wolly hats – maybe an unusual combination but something we needed. We met up with Mika and Bjorn there, who had done the climb to Mount Batcholor late yesterday afternoon and then descended in the dark to camp at Todd Lake Campground, just down from the pass.
Camping at 6000 feet was SOOOOOO cold said Mika, that they took all morning to warm up and had only just got going. Talk of water freezing inside the tent did little to impress Bernie – and hence the need for woolly hats. We plan to camp lower down if possible and , of course, are making our way south at the rate of about 300 miles per week. This ought to mean that the temperatures are not too bad (provided we don’t hit unseasonal weather of course).
Lava Lake was lovely as we sat, ate and exchanged jokes and the usual cycling black humour. Then we filled our bottles and were on the way again. The afternoon was quite long with some straight roads through the forests, whihc meant we could see several miles ahead. We got glimpses of lakes but there was a smokey pall over the road which restricted the view.
Then we cam across a sign which explained that this was a “Controlled Burn”. I commented that I wanted to know how they did it because I had been trying for 30 years without successs – and just got a frosty smile from said “Bern” who did not seem to find the pun amusing. Little things please little minds.
We got to Davis Lake at about 4.30 which was our intended stopping point but it was a spooky place even in the beautiful late afternoon sunshine.
There must have been a massive fire here (or possibly this was the result of volcanic activity, but all the trees were dead and the undergrowth was just re-emerging. It was a long way to the campsite down a dirt road, and Carolyn, who had inspected it – did not recommend it. But she said that Crescent Creek was only 5 miles along and was excellent. So we slogged on and she was right about the campsite (even if wrong about the milage as it was 8 and these things matter when one is knackered).
Tom cooked a lovely stir fry and we are about to get slaughtered at Scrabble to make up for the audacity of beating them last time.
Final addition to report on the scrabble game. Bernie and I both picked up (so we thought) blanks and used them. However Tom came up with a series of ingenious words (all legal if possibly at the margin from a UK perspective) and stormed ahead. Then I picked further blanks and then headed to stunning finale with “relocate” which not only would have seen me use all my letters but also ending the game on a triple word score, and stroll into an unassailable winning position. But life is never that good and there had to be a catch – and it waas that both Bernie and I had mistaken the earlier blanks which had letters on the other side – and so my plan was foiled – Tom won as was right and I was left with a feeling of “what might have been”. One back to the Yanks and I fear the first of many.