Los Tres Amigos (USA Day 92)
Between Baker City and Prairie city sit three hills. The three little pigs. The three stooges. Three wise men. However you want to characterise them, they’re almost identical in height and gradient, and to traverse them would cost us four and a half thousand feet of effort. Let’s break them down a little:
Hill 1: Forested and bendy, preceded by twenty-five miles of false flats. When we saw the classic ‘CHAIN UP AREA’ sign, we knew the climb had begun for real. We forgot to have any snacks before this one, so felt cavernous and rattly at the top. A quick descent on the other side led us to a sunny lunch spot for an appetising bag of leftover noodles. Noodle bag.
Hill 2: Accompanied by the least Beatles-y of all Beatles albums, Yellow Submarine, this one felt steep and very hot. We longed for cooling breezes, then when they came we longed for them to go away. We never escaped the forest, rather felt the pressure ease, then cannoned into another valley. On the other side, near the Austin junction, we found a pipe gurgling with spring water that our host Judy had told us about. We refilled our bottles and cycled the remaining mile to a shop that sold huckleberry ice cream. Mm.
Hill 3: Just as we left to climb this one, a roadful of touring cyclists arrived into the parking lot. This bunch was on a supported tour, so they had the pleasure of chucking their bags in a van at the start of each day. Furious at this luxury treatment, we vowed to beat them up the hill, and there’s only one strong, beautiful, independent woman who can set a blistering pace such as the one required: Ivan. No, wait. Amy. It wasn’t so steep, but definitely lasted the longest, and its road was much busier than the others. As Amy forged a speed worthy of the most bagless of cyclists, I sweated to keep up, crossing the summit two miles later than we’d planned, which was quite frankly rude.
For the third time, we descended at pace, rolling into Prairie City, whose RV Park was cheap but not free, and so on principle we refused to go there. After a bit of asking around, we gained the trust of a local mum who allowed us the corner of her front yard. As soon as the sun set, we set up the tent and bundled inside, planning to sleep long and hard before another dry day tomorrow.