Day 29: Fowler CampgroundJournal for 2016-10-10 | Published on 2016-10-10 20:36:24
Breakfast at the hotel was typical hotel food: scrambled eggs, sausage, oatmeal, yogurt, fruit, bagels and cream cheese, hot coffee, juice. We ate all of it. Oh, isn’t that what YOU normally eat at breakfast? J Maybe it’s just us.
Our late start, which is becoming typical, got us out the door around 8:30. We made our way out of Yreka, and took a shortcut to get us back on route, so we only managed to ride 6 extra miles today. Totally worth it. The first 20 or so miles today were flat, which is different for us lately. In fact, it was so different, and apparently when it’s flat you ride with a different posture, so Pam’s knee started bothering her (again). Luckily, it required a small adjustment to the seat, and soon enough we were back to the climbing we’ve grown accustomed to.
All along the Shasta Valley this morning there were dozens of birds of prey, including: hawks, flacons, kestrels. We stopped a half dozen times to watch them flying, sitting on power poles, or just staring at us. One hawk we were watching even got attacked by another hawk. The other intriguing thing were the squirrels. They seemed to love sitting on fence poles, some of them big wooden fence poles, and others tiny metal stakes. So there you have a tiny metal stake with a big fat squirrel sitting on top of it. As soon as they saw us they would run away, so no pictures, only us telling you it is a thing.
We passed through or near many small towns today: Montague, Grenada, Gazelle, Weed, Mt. Shasta, McCloud. Lunch was midway up the climb to Mt. Shasta (the town, not the volcano). By the time we got to Mt. Shasta, we had to figure what our plan for the day was. We weren’t really tired, so we got some snacks at Burger King, and decided to shoot for a Forest Service campground that the website said was open.
At this point, riding out of Mt. Shasta, toward McCloud, we were on highway 89, which apparently is a main thoroughfare, and the speed limit is 65 mph. The shoulder is only 24-30 inches wide. And here’s where I tell you about anecdotes. At the beginning of the climb, we had our taillights flashing the normal blink-off-blink-off that we keep them on for most of our riding. We had several close calls with cars, one coming quite close and raising both our blood pressure. So, we decided to change to the blink-blink-blink-BLINK mode, which seemed to do the trick. Ninety-nine percent of the vehicles that passed us after that slowed down or moved over to the other lane to pass us. It is fascinating to me. I can’t understand the difference, but it seems to work, and I won’t question it. Everyone, please, when you see a bicyclist, give them at least 3 feet when you pass them, and slow down if you can. It doesn’t take anything away from you, but it definitely means a lot when you’re the one riding.
Speaking of amazing things, did I ever tell you the story of Matt the cow whisperer? So, a few days ago, we were riding in open range, which means there might be cows on the road. Sure enough, as we were climbing a hill, there were 3 cows and 2 calves crossing the road ahead of us. The lead cow saw us, and decided to turn around and go back the way she came, and the others followed. The problem was, that was where we were riding. So, we followed these cows up the hill, and it felt like we were chasing them. Finally, they decided to peel off the road, and I thought we were done with them. Well, when we got to the point where we could see where they had gone, we could see the little valley they ran down into, and there was a road that lead, yep, you guessed it, right back up to our road. We could see them on that road, and they were going to beat us to the intersection, and we’d have to deal with them for who knows how long. That’s when Matt worked his magic. He started whistling, and really got those cows’ attention. They stood stock still, cocked their heads at us, and stared as we passed them by. When we finally got around them, they ran the other way, and we were safe. I’m super impressed by Matt’s ability to whistle while pedaling uphill.
So anyway, we made it to this amazing campground, found a campsite, and immediately followed the trail down to the lower falls of the McCloud River, which are really beautiful. This is as far upstream as the salmon historically could make it, and used to be a favorite place for the natives to fish and gather. Tomorrow we’ll visit the middle and upper falls at the beginning of our ride.
We ate our dinner, bothered slightly by a yellow jacket gang, but once the sun went down, apparently they went to sleep. We’ve been trying to plan our next few days. It should take us 2 days to get to Lassen National Park, and then we have just one more day of decent weather before a big system moves in and we have 4 days of heavy rain. So, we have some choices to make, since riding in cold rain is both our favorite. We just need to make sure not to get caught up at 7000 ft when the storm comes, where rain most certainly will be snow.
At this point we are considering our options. We can ride in heavy rain on mountain roads. We can hole up in a hotel for 4 days waiting for the weather to pass. We also may end our tour early and head home. We will wait for the forecast to firm up, along with seeing where we are going to end up. Until then we have more pedaling to do.