Crater Lake

Sorry about the delayed post and the "fake out" notifications probably sent to those who are subscribed.  Posterous seemed to go through a day of weird behavior where it was eating pictures and not allowing rich text posts.

We had a heck of a trip yesterday riding from Prospect to Chemult via Crater Lake -- 77 miles with 6300 feet of climbing.    We had a late start and then the climb went much slower than we'd anticipated -- with our legs worn from our previous day's efforts we were only able to manage about 2/3rds of our normal climbing rate.    Other than short rest stops and photo stops we were in the saddle for eleven hours -- but we managed to scrape in to Chemult just as the sun set.

It was a tough day but gosh was it ever worth it.   We were overwhelmed when we made it up to the first overlook.   Whatever we had imagined was was completely dwarfed by the reality of the actual lake and the cliffs around it.   When you stare down at it and across the caldera you know that you are seeing something very very special.    As we rode around the rim we couldn't help but to stop at each viewpoint even though we were pressed for time.    This is one area where the bicycle really excels -- we can (and do) stop almost anywhere there is something interesting to see whether it be a strange piece of bark that looks like a big fat lizard (yes, today) or one of the world's deepest lakes.   :)

Pronouncing today a "recovery day" (we're good at such pronouncements) we rode just 36 miles up Highway 97 towards Bend -- easy riding over flat terrain.   A bit boring too but that just brought back some of our old games like "bungee cord call out" where the goal is to be the first to see them and count them.   I noticed early on in California that the primary forms of litter on the (very clean) roads there were 1) whole and broken bungee cords; 2) bits of tire; 3) broken and whole bolts.   Here in Oregon so far we've found much more outright trash on the roads than in California but still the bungee cords continue.   Quite seriously, you can't bike a mile without finding at least one bungee cord.   The moral for me is don't use bungee cords to fasten loads for transport !!

From here we're pacing ourselves for an arrival at Cascade Locks (~240 miles) this Sunday so that we can fetch Tina's cycling shoes and her old Candy pedals from the post office on Monday morning.   The new larger flat pedals we bought have reduced Tina's foot numbness issue but it's still there.   We're hoping this return to her old setup will eliminate that.    From there we cross the river and enter Washington!


Ralph Bunyan

It turns out that Paul Bunyan had a little brother named Ralph.    Today we ate lunch in charming (but thankfully not tourist-ee) Butte Falls and found Ralph standing in their city park.   :-)

Today we're pretty well whipped -- 75 miles with 6800 feet of climbing.   

BUT we were tremendously lucky tonight!   We thought for sure we were going to be stealth camping at the side of the road somewhere but an online addendum to our maps reported that camping was sometimes available at Buck Mountain Ranch just outside of Prospect.   We called up and as things eventually developed not only are we staying here on their beautiful property but we were given run of their brand new barn apartment!     Thanks so much Anna Maria and Gus!!    :)

Tomorrow is another big day as we climb all the way up to Crater Lake, ride around about a third of the rim, and then ride on another good bit before stopping for the night.


p.s. very nice roads today even if they were super climb-a-rific -- the least traffic we've ever experienced.


It took an 82 mile ride to do it, but we made it into Oregon yesterday!    We didn't care much for the 2500 foot climb at the end of the day but the last 50 miles of California were mighty sweet to behold.   Very pretty countryside.

In any case, we're done with California for now after 1680 miles on the bicycle and about 800 miles hiked.    Monday we'll be leaving Ashland continuing to head towards Canada along the Sierra Cascades Route.   

In the news we had a bit of a scare just as arrived in Ashland.  As we pulled away from a picture stop just outside of town  I noticed a faint thumping noise coming from the front wheel. I thought maybe I'd picked up a bit of mud or that something else was sticking to the tire.  I looked at it as we rolled along but didn't see anything but when we pushed the bike into the motel room we were horrified to see a huge bulge in the sidewall with the tube starting to come out -- about an inch of sidewall had actually torn out away from the bead!     And this was just after we'd descended the twisty Old Siskiyou Highway for over 2000 feet at speed.... yow!   I think the only thing that saved us was that I'd found and installed a super thick inner tube in the tire right before we started the trip.

So today it was "search for an appropriate new tire" day since I thought we'd be unable to get at the two new tires that Bill at Blackbar Bicycles had sent to us via General Delivery.   After visiting all four bike shops in town I settled on what seemed like the least bad match but 8 miles of trial running with that resulted in a "fail".    My first heads up was as I braked while riding on the white line at the side of the road.   The new front tire slid like it was riding on glass.   Later I found out that it was trying to slip out from under me just for the crime of riding over cross walk paint with just the wee slope of road!   Luckily, Tina called the (closed) post office and found that they'd be willing to give me our packages if I walked around to the back door and knocked there.   Score!   I had the tires from Bill and so now we're set again.   I think I'll replace that tire again in 1000 miles whether or not it looks like it needs it.  We've also promised ourselves to take more time in our tire examinations!

Anyway, while we were doing bike stuff we replaced Tina's pedals with some that should help her with a foot numbness issue she's been suffering through and we also talked a local bike shop into tearing down and cleaning up the eccentric bottom bracket with the hope that's been the source of a clicking noise we've been hearing a couple times with each downstroke under load.

Tomorrow we're going to attempt to create a day-by-day plan that'll get us to the border so that we're not faced with as much daily research.

Until later, David

Burney Falls & Mount Shasta

It was a long but uneventful day as we rolled into the town of Mount Shasta (at the foot of the actual Mount Shasta).   Even though Mount Shasta is a bit shorter than Mount Whitney at 14,179 vs 14,505 feet it strikes us as more impressive since it stands alone -- Mount Whitney mostly blends in to the massive wall that is the eastern face of the Sierras.     In any case, it's a tremendous sight from all angles.

Earlier in the day we had a bit of good fortune.   Yesterday, we'd elected to take the 10 mile (net) detour into the town of Burney to spend the night since the next campground along our route, Burney Falls State Park, was listed as being reservation only and we were also unsure what sort of resupply options it had.   Well, we should have researched a bit more.    As we rolled by the park entrance about 10 miles into our ride this morning we'd planned to just roll on by but instead decided to duck in to use their restrooms.   

As we rolled in we noticed that it seemed to be a beautiful spot generally but then as we headed back out we saw a sign saying that the falls overlook was just a few feet away.    We stopped the bike and walked over.   Wow!   We were witnessing the most movingly beautiful falls we'd ever seen.   Our pictures do it no justice of course -- for a bit of scale perspective when you look at the one I've included here know that it's 129 feet from the top of the falls to the bottom.    That's not what makes them what they are .. I don't know how to describe them really .. just know that if you're headed up Highway 89 between Mount Lassen and Mount Shasta, stopping in to see Burney Falls is an absolute "must do".  

Tomorrow we hope to make it all the way to Ashland, OR -- and by 5pm when the P.O. closes.   That'll be a record distance for us at 77 miles -- if we make it!

All the best, David

p.s. Jay, our bird man bicyclist from Bishop reports that our last mystery bird was a Blue Grouse.   More specifically, my mother adds that it is most likely a Sooty Grouse, one of two species that once shared the label "Blue Grouse".

Visiting Hat Creek Radio Observatory

Today we did an easy 35 mile ride up to Burney with Mount Shasta, over 50 miles distant, looming large on the horizon. 

Along the way we detoured a few miles and visited the Hat Creek Radio Observatory where we scored a fantastic and detailed tour from the site's sole remaining employee, UCB software engineer Colby Krabill.  See, the observatory's funding has been declining for some while now back but back in April it ceased astronomical operations.   It's being kept in preservation mode with the equipment running, cooled, and monitored.  

Anyway, Colby has been involved with the observatory for about 10 years now and has lived on site with his family since 2008.  With that and the fact that he authored a significant fraction of the complex software running the whole ship he's *the* authority on the site and the Allen Telescope Array (ATA).

Two hours after arriving we reluctantly headed out (incidentally, you can only get into the place on foot or via bicycle presently).   The good news is that it looks like the Air Force is about to step in and get the place back up and productively running -- retasked with an orientation towards work with artificial satellites but nevertheless running.   We're hoping that works out and that the place is allowed to eventually expand to its originally-envisioned size.

Okay .. non-techie people will want to stop reading this post here.   :)   

This is a picture staring directly at one of the log periodic receiving antennae housed at the focal point of the dishes.   From front to rear you're looking at about four feet.   The things have an incredible10 GHZ bandwidth -- all of it usable at once and with fairly simple fine tuning available via physical adjustments if additional gain is needed.   They've got a new design prepared that increases the bandwidth to 20 GHZ by sacrificing the lowest gig -- a proposition that's looking good since that's where the bulk of their terrestrial noise is anyway.   

Another fascinating aspect for me was the air cooling system they have for the electronics housed out in the antennas.   The antennas are arranged in physical clusters.   In each cluster there is a small building with an air intake, filters, and a pump.    From there the air then heads out through buried lines to the individual telescopes and into the actual electronics enclosures.   The nifty aspect of this is that they're using the geothermal cooling aspect of the buried lines to regulate the temperature of the air!    Grand.   They've had some problems with the shorter runs due to the volcanic sand, tho.   The sand it very thermally conductive but only if it's wet -- which it almost never is.    If the place ever gets to get fully running again or expand they plan to run the lines deeper and fill the trenches with potting soil.

Kind of looks like a bit of old style computer room here but what's going on in this picture is unsual.   The analog radio signals are converted to *analog* light on fiber at the antennae and are then run into here for conversion to digital, beam forming, further processing and recording.   If I heard Colby correctly, they can process an entire 600MHZ (800?) window at once.    The combined system is very flexible and very fast.   Hopefully the new tasking and funding will become a reality and the system can be developed further.   

Thanks again to Colby for taking the time to give us such a wonderfully complete tour.   It made our day.


Through Lassen Volcanic National Park

We're another 113 miles up the road in Old Station, CA.    Today we had a mile of climbing to get up to the top of Lassen Volcanic National Park and out on the other side but what a beautiful ride it was!    Lassen is a wonderful place that is so much more than we ever imagined -- we'll definitely come back to for some serious back country backpacking and hiking.    Highly recommended but make sure you come late enough in the year -- the main road through the park was only just cleared of snow about a week ago!

Yesterday's ride was also scenic but was fairly nerve racking due to the intense logging traffic.   Just as we found in Maine last year, the logging truck drivers act as if they own the roads and blow down them at tremendous speeds.   We had to maintain a constant vigil listening and looking.  By the time we rolled into Childs Meadow (at the start of the climb into Lassen) we were completely beat.   On the bright side, we slept like logs!

Tomorrow we're doing short miles to Burney but we're going to stop by Hat Creek Radio Observatory a few miles off the path and see if we can't roust somebody up to give us a bit of a tour.   We've heard that it's closed due to funding problems but also hear there may be a skeleton crew still there keeping things preserved while they seek additional funding.  

From there it's two long days to Ashland, OR.   We're hoping to make it there on Friday before the PO closes -- we have stuff waiting for us there!

All the best, David

p.s. As we rolled into Old Station we found a gathering of about 8 thru hikers there.   Some SOBO, some NOBO, etc .. anyway, it was good catching up with them and reconnecting with the trail.

Building steam

We saw Harry Potter in 3D (2D might have been a better pick), washed clothes, sent things, received things, etc as planned but were ever so glad to escape the Lake Tahoe area afterwards.   While its natural beauty is great there's been too much development around the lake and there are just entirely too many people running around traveling the single road that rings the thing.   Allegedly conditions were worse than usual due to a celebrity golf tournament coming into town but we're not so sure .. ick!  Not our cup of tea!

We're now 115 trail/route miles north of there in Quincy and the biking is pleasant.   Tomorrow we plan to get very close to Lassen Volcanic National Park and then we'll spend almost the entire next day cycling all around the park looking at toxic bubbling puddles and other grand wonderfulness .. :-}   I think then too we will have officially left the Sierras and will have entered the Cascade Mountain Range.

Afterwards, we plan to scramble for the Oregon border.   We think can be there before the end of this coming weekend.    It's finally starting to feel like we're moving!    ... which is good because Tina is itching to hike!

All the best .. /David :)

South Lake Tahoe

We just arrived in South Lake Tahoe a few hours ago.   We'd hoped to make it all the way here yesterday but on the climb up to Monitor Pass yesterday morning we had a bit of an "unplanned departure" from the bike which caused me to jam my bad knee.   Everything's fine now but by the time we'd made it down the mountain to Markleeville, the knee was swollen, stiffening up, and yelling stop!  

Nevertheless, the ride over Monitor Pass on Highway 89 was stunningly beautiful and we found that (tiny) Markleeville was a very pleasant place to spend an afternoon and night as well.   Then today we met three southbound Sierra Cascades riders.   In the morning I met a young Japanese cyclist who'd come in late with stories (and pictures) of how he'd been accosted by a bear while he had is bike apart trying to straighten out a bent front wheel!    Then later today on the climb up to Luther Pass we met a couple experienced cycle tourists from Sacramento on their way south as well (pic above and their journals can be found under "PB&J" (Peggy Blair & Jerry :) on    We've met other cycle tourists but those three were the first Sierra Cascades riders.

Today we suffered yet another flat on the rear tire -- this time from some unknown assailant.   So after 1200+ miles on the bike with no flats, we've now had three in the last week.   I guess it's just the additional load on the rear tire now that we're riding together.  Anyway, we stopped by a cycle shop on the way into town today and found a heavier weight tube to put in the thing.   It's not as heavy as the incredible monster I have in the front tire, but maybe it'll do a better job for a bit.   I think ultimately I need to switch to a tougher tire although the one's I'd like don't seem to come in the particular size I need.

Ah, before I go, a bird update. Jay from Bishop wrote to say that the birds that were so put off with us were Brewer's Blackbirds defending their nests.   Apparently they love the open wet flats of that countryside and during this time of year they bedevil him on his rides as well.   Thanks for the info, Jay!

We'll be here in South Lake Tahoe through tomorrow.   It seems we need to see Harry Potter or something like that ;-)


125 miles and 9500 feet

We're in Walker, CA (population 558) tonight after a long, short, and a long day.   The first day out of Bishop we had over 4500' feet of climbing, another flat on the rear, and then had the pleasure of fighting 30 mph headwinds uphill for the last 15 miles.   It was a good day filled with wonderful sights but was very tiring.   

Yesterday we took the shorter ride up to Lee Vining, CA -- a pleasant little town on the shore of Mono Lake and the eastern gateway to Yosemite via Tioga Pass.  There we enjoyed perhaps the best room ever outside of Hawaii or the Turks and Caicos (at Murphy's Motel) -- very light, good air flow through the room (windows in back and front), ceiling fan, full kitchen (with an actual oven -- super rare), and lots of room.

Today's ride into Walker was again a longer one with plenty of climbing but it was relatively smooth sailing.  We seem to have worked through Tina's saddle issues (which was forcing frequent breaks) and we were very lucky that the daily high winds did not strike until we were headed down mountain from our last summit of the day.   That said, we did have a bit of a scare on the first descent -- we were quite sweaty from the climb but the temps were still very cool and the shock freezing that came with our 45mph descent literally took Tina's breath away!   Due to the wind noise it was some while before Tina managed to communicate to me that she was having problems.   Anyway, we've now instituted a few new protocols for descents that should avoid this situation in the future.

After a 9 mile warm up tomorrow morning, we head directly into the steep 3000' climb over Monitor Pass -- that'll be the steepest climb Tina's yet experienced and so she's a bit nervous about that but I've got two lower gears yet to deploy (which I use alot when solo) and so I'm sure we'll do fine.   I'm hopeful that we can pull off another 3000' of climbing before we're done but we may well need to settle for less and just stealth camp somewhere.

It's past biker/hiker midnight here (9pm) but before I sign off, I've got to talk about a mystery bird.   Ever since Bishop we've been followed nearly continuously by these black birds -- squawking at us and flying along just to our right.   After a couple hundred yards one of the birds will peel away (apparently having reached the end of its territory) only to be immediately be replaced by another who follows along for the next bit .. and so on and so forth.  I've included a picture of one of the things above in case anyone might be able to identify it for us!



After a day of "primary bicycle interface" recovery in Independence we had an easy time with the ride up to Bishop.   There we found a town filled to the brim tourists.   As usual in the southwest, about a third of the tourists are European.   We'd found that to be true through all our extended winter visits and so its at least mildly interesting to see that it's also the case in the summer.

Independence was a pleasant place to spend a rest day.   It's the county seat but is much smaller (population 669) than Bishop.  The 6-10 thru-hikers plus a sprinkling of JMT hikers in town were the dominant transient life forms -- hikers often come out to Independence via Kearsarge Pass to resupply or recover.    The new malady we heard about was snow blindness.   One was a case of fully-developed snow blindness in a JMT hiker who had lost his sunglasses -- he had to be led out.    Others were less severe -- like Tina's face burn only with a feeling of "gritty" burning eyes thrown in.    I'd always read about snow blindness but somehow it never clicked about just how dramatic it is and how quickly it can develop with high altitudes, a blazing sun, and a 3D snow-covered terrain.

Incidentally, if you do someday find yourself traveling up 395, a very worthwhile stop is the Eastern California Museum in Independence.   We walked down (about a 1/4 mile off the highway) expecting the usual county museum scene but found something several cuts above.   We wound up spending several hours there and didn't even get into many of the exhibits outside.   The museum was founded in 1928 and so it covers Indian history, Manzanar, LA vs Owens Valley water politics and development, Sierra mountaineering, and so on in detail.    Fascinating stuff and also a very pleasant shaded creekside picnic spot.

Tomorrow we have several thousand feet of climbing before we get very far down the road and so it's likely to be a long day!


p.s.  A quick shout out to Brian at Aerohead Cycles here in Bishop.   We rolled up looking for gloves and a handlebar bag.   When we walked out we found we had a rear flat (first of the trip!).   Brian found the problem (a small wire) and replaced our tube for free!    Thanks!!