Part 2: Bicycling Coast to Coast Across America 2012

Adventure Blog

Tombstone  Pass, cold nights, camping out in deep wilderness

After Tombstone Pass and its world of white, we rolled down the other side.  Of course, we "rugged up" with all the cold weather gear we could muster. Gore-tex jackets, gloves,sweaters, foot covers, tights, bacalava, zipped up neck gators and wool socks.  We rolled down hill for six miles knowing that we would be pounding the pedals back up another long pass.  Around us, deep woods filled with massive pine trees of every size. Some looked over two hundred years old while others were just starting out.  The woods beckoned in its beauty, mystery and grandeur.  I relish camping in the woods. It gives me a sense of peace, quiet, tranquility and spiritual bliss.

"We're not going to make the next pass before nightfall," said Wayne.

"Let's find the perfect spot," I said.

"In all this snow?" said Wayne.

"Let's  find a clearing in the  woods," I said.

We pedaled slowly with the temperatures dropping quickly from 55 to 50 to 45. It would be a cold night.  We could be freezing our butts off at 20 degrees this night.  This is when nature let's you know you're alive.

We found a clearing along the highway where the snow had melted enough to show some ground.  We  cracked out the tents and puffed up the sleeping bags before cooking up a hot dinner of beans and rice.

I crawled into my tent with these last words as the temperatures dropped toward the 30s and 20s, "Slap on everything you can to keep warm tonight Wayne.  I think it's going to really drop into the 20s."

"Way ahead of you," Wayne said. "I'm ready to sleep like a baby wrapped in layers."

That night, my temperature stick read 21 degrees. Fortunately, I carried a 20 degree bag and stayed warm.

Next morning, we awoke to frozen water on the tents.  We packed  them up, loaded the bikes and began our ride to the top of Santiam Pass.  We passed a huge burn area with gray skeleton trunks of once formerly majestic pines.  The road continue its 5 percent incline through forest beauty. We saw 10,000 foot peaks in the distance. We climbed toward a 6,000 foot pass, which kept our immediate attention.

What's it like climbing a mountain pass?  I've climbed them from  5,000 to 10,000 to a lot of them at 11,000 in Colorado to 15,500 foot passes in the Andes.  I've climbed them in heat and sweating like a pig all the way to the top. I've climbed passes in rain which  is miserable.  I have climbed them in snow and on gravel.  Each presents a specific challenge. Whether I like them or not, there is only one way over a mountain pass and that's with guts, gumption and endless determination.  At the top, the grind melts away until the pedaling becomes easier and then, gravity takes over. Once that happens, my mind flies with delight, bliss, euphoria and freedom of flight.

We reached the top of Santiam Pass at noon.  At the top, it proved flat for a mile, and we saw the trail sign for the Pacific Coast Trail.  That path runs from Canada to Mexico for backpackers.  My friend Doug Armstrong has hiked it.  He's also cycled and hiked seven continents.  He loved his journey on the Pacific Coast Trail.

At the top, from sweating, we packed on the jackets to get ready for a chilly descend.  We rolled  down a long, winding and dry road into Sisters at the bottom.  Looking back as I sped down the long road, I saw Mount Hood rise out of the woods behind me and before me the Three Sisters rose to 10,000 feet into the grand blue sky.  Really imposing!

We met Howard at the Subway and gobbled down some footlongs!

We headed toward Redmond, Oregon and an amazing meeting at One Street Down.

Laugh, love, pedal and live it up,

Frosty Wooldridge