Today I turned 53. That didn't matter much out in the middle of nowhere so I was up early and ready to get to the summit of McKenzie Pass. Roughly 5300 feet above sea level, the pass runs through a field of volcanic rock before dropping back down into the forest and into the town of sisters, where I planned to stop for the day. It was only 43 miles, but the 5000 ft climb took most of the day. I'm pretty slow on a regular bike, so adding 50 pounds of gear REALLY slowed me down. Plus I was loving the scenery and hoping to see snow at the top!
I ran into another rider at the store near the camp ground and he suggested we share expenses on a room in SIsters, OR which was about 40-45 miles away on the other side of the pass. I have no problems sharing expenses so I agreed to meet him there. He was a little (lot) slower than me so I ended up getting the room and waiting on him. Things did not work out so I ended up paying for the room myself, but I it was my birthday so just enjoyed to warm bed and hot shower and didn't stress over it.
The climb up the pass was not the highest or hardest of the entire trip, but for me it was going to be my first big challenge. In all actuality, like a lot of things, I'd made it much worse in my head than it actually was. Sure, I walked a few of the steeper parts (not much) but overall it went better than I had expected. (I've learned to like climbing after this month to be honest).
About halfway up the pass I found a small rest stop with bathrooms and a picnic table. A family was using the table, so I sat on the log guardrail and ate lunch. Butterflies began to gather on and around me and the bike. Nice and peaceful.
At the top of the climb I did seem snow still piles along the sides of the road. Not a deep as the pictures you see on Google (google McKenzie Pass) but still it was snow. Once I reached the summit and the observatory made of volcanic rock I was pleased to find another public restroom. Thanks Oregon (and Idaho) for having them scattered around seeming in the middle of nowhere but exactly where they are needed! :-)
I had another small meal at the top (cashews and salt-n-vinegar chips) while I waited a little longer on the other rider. I never saw him so I continued on into town.
The downhill was MUCH quicker than the climb and I could feel it get warmer as I descended. Once I arrived in Sisters, OR it didn't take long to find a good meal. Being what seemed to be a tourist town, there were restaurants a plenty. I chose a simple outdoor grill and ate, taking my time to wait for George, the other rider. I kept my phone in airplane mode while riding but turned service back on when in town. No communication from him to let me know, so I went about finding a room.
After eating, showering, and restocking food and water for the next day, I began to plan out tomorrow. I wanted to get to the Spoken-Hostel in Mitchelle, 87 miles away. Easy-peasy.