Day 20 – Baker City to Clarkston, WA
Distance: 286.1 miles / 460 kilometres
Riding Time: 9:00-5:30
Temps: Low 18 Celcius (start of day) / High 34 Hells Canyon
Another awesome day of riding.
Showers through the night disippated and left behind cloudless skies for today’s ride.
Today’s ride included Hells Canyon, Wallowa Mountain Road FR39 and the Rattlesnake Grade.
I’d read about the Hells Canyon Rally and the sheer awesomeness of the road to the a Snake River Dam. It’s about 20 miles of turns that lead right up to the dam. It’s a good road but I think there’s a bit of hyperbole about just how great a ride it is. The pavement is marginal, there are lots of rocks and gravel, and it doesn’t have a ‘rhythm’ like some of the roads from the last week of riding. It is scenic and provides stunning views of the River and canyon and is worth it to see the mighty river and the immense amount of water in the Snake.
The highlight of the day was the trip through the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. FR39 didn’t get off to a great start – sign saying 30 minute delays for construction. This followed shortly after by a 1/4 of a mile of rough gravel and potholes. I nearly turned around. I’m glad I didn’t. It’s 60 -70 miles of increasingly fun road to ride. It’s being repaired on the south end and the quality of the road improves the farther you move north. It offers an excellent viewpoint above Hells Canyon. It then continues towards Joseph and is twisty and traffic free.
The last part of the day was a bit of high speed highway riding from Enterprise to the border of Oregon/Washington. The last bits of the highway 3 are the Rattlesnake Grade which is a steep twisty switchback descent and ascent of a canyon on perfect pavement by the Joseph and Grand Ronde river valleys.
I could see the weather beginning to change. I’ve been so lucky and it looked like I’d slip right between two massive storm fronts. I did, sort of. I got to within 10 kilometres of Lewiston when then storm winds picked up. And REALLY picked up. Apparently, there had been storm warnings issued while I blithely road along. Winds were reported at 70mph on the news later on. It literally blew me off the road and I took a few minutes to see if it would settle down – it didn’t. I stopped with a couple other riders who were contemplating waiting it out since they were also close to there destination. The wind was so strong that power lines started waving so violently that I saw it rip one pole out of the ground.
When I arrived there was wind damage, hail damage and power outages in parts of Northeast Oregon and Southeast Washington. Talk about a storm.