Monday, June 29, 1981

8. Rock Creek, Oregon

Day 8:  Monday, June 29, 1981
Ochoco Lake to Rock Creek:  58 miles

We rolled out of the Ochoco Lake campground while Hermon and his friend were eating breakfast.  Not too many miles later, we went through a stretch of road under construction near the top of Ochoco Pass.  Hot tar does wonders for bicycle tires.  After it coats them, the tires pick up sharp little pebbles.  One of them punctured Jack's rear tire, and after trying three times to patch the inner tube, he finally gave up and put in a new one.  One benefit of the road work is that we stopped at a roadside park with an artesian well that had the best water for miles around.

By this time, Hermon had caught up with us.  But we soon left him behind on the downhill from the pass.  It was warming up quickly, however, and by the time we reached Mitchell, we were dragging.  Mitchell is a hole in the wall at the bottom of a valley with a population of 200 (or so they claim) and it was hot!  We bought provisions and ate lunch with half a dozen other bikers in the town park.  Mitchell's hotel caters to bicyclists, and most of the others decided to stay put in Mitchell overnight, so they could tackle the steep hill out of town in the cool of the day.  But I couldn't talk Jack into sticking around, so we left everyone else behind at three in the afternoon.  The climb was excruciatingly hot, and I had to stop every few minutes for a swig of water.  The air is so dry, we go through water like mad.  My two water bottles carry about a quart, and that lasts 10-20 miles in this country.

Ups and downs
We had a lot of ups and downs today.

Once over the top, though, it was clear sailing down the road that followed winding Rock Creek.  We covered another 12 miles or so before finding a place to set up our tent.  It was on an island in the creek (at least, it would have been an island if the water had been higher) that was just large enough to hold the tent and our bikes.  After supper we bathed in the creek.  That's the first time I've skinny-dipped twenty feet from a U.S. highway!

Camp in the creek
Our camp on the island in the creek

We covered only 58 miles today.  But after the climb out of Mitchell, that was plenty.

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