Day 4: September 13. Like a Diamond in the Sky
Well, we had to take breakfast once again at the Ol' Mohawk Cafe'. Only game in town, and I wanted to get at least one photo of the ceramic whiskey bottles with a sample of the stuffed wildlife. Looking at all these incongruous collectibles was enough to make Leigh's eyes swell almost completely shut this morning. But she did make it out and ready to roll with Cheryl long before I ever got on the road. The load out at the Woodsman Inn took place on the gravel lot, making rolling the bikes into the slipstream a risky activity.
But they did make it on up the road, US 97 again, straight and wide, and filled with trucks on a mission, and RVs goin' fishin'. Ken sagged, and caught up with the gang at the pre-agreed-upon rest stop, plusher than any on the interstate, out here in the middle of nowhere, on the road from Bend to Klamath Falls.
I myself took the straight and level road, coupled with the short mileage for the day, as an excuse to break out my tri bike, and try to get the 52 miles done in under 2 hrs 45 min. I took along two power bars, a Camel fanny back ("GoBe") full of water, and my trusty Hammer Gel ("guaranteed to smear all over your face at 22 mph".) John showed me his prowess with Gu. Of course, he was off his bike at the time. I challenge him to do that while stoking downhill on the tandem, and keep the stuff in the packet while he opens it.
The road up to Cascade Crest (5925') appears curveless on the map, and does indeed run "straight as a Ponderosa Pine", just like the Oregon Scenic Byway blurb promised. Only trouble with a road with no curves, going uphill, is that you can see all the way to the top while you're still 13 miles away at the bottom. Nothing like an endpoint which never seems to arrive to totally discourage the speed demon in me. I slowed down from 23 to 19 to 16 in the flats below the pass, then slowed to 12 on the steeper upper section. But the downhill to Diamond Lake more than made up for that. 43 mph max, holding on to the aerobars or, when a truck appeared behind, tucking down beneath the bull horns to get closer to the brakes. Made it to the bottom in *exactly* 2 hours and 45 minutes. Maybe it was U2's "Joshua Tree" we'd played on top that sent me down in such a mellow, stable mood.
Diamond Lake Lodge, at the north end of the eponyomous lake within the Umpqua National Forest, lies in view of Mt. Bailey ("very seismically active" according to Dave) and Mt. Thielsen, an uncharacteristically jagged peak for this neck of the Cascades. This is a full-service, year-round resort. Started in 1922 with tents for accommodations, it now boasts over 100 beds in rooms and cabins, an up-scale dining room, and boats, mountain bikes, and pizza for hire. The big attraction has been trout, so big they're too heavy to land in the boat (according to George Howard in 1921, who first started the resort). But too many chub, used illegally as bait fish, have eaten the trout out of house and home, so that now the lake is pretty sterile. In 1992, the US Fish and Wildlife Service decided to do something about this. Given that three major bureaucratic agencies (USFWS, US Forest Service, and Oregon State Game) are involved, they are still awaiting the draft environmental impact statement for their plan to poison the Chub and restock to trout. Then, USFS has to approve the plan, USFWS has to agree to fund it, and Oregon Game has to agree to implement it. While it seems like an act of Congress would be easier, this process actually WAS determined by an act of Congress. And I imagine some Congressmen elected in 1994 are complaining about excessive governmental regulation. But really, how do you decide to totally sterilize and then re-invigorate a 3 by 1 mile lake which selfish fishermen have ruined?
Meanwhile, the resort, without its base of trout fishermen, sputters on. Improvements seem to be at a standstill - no phones or air blowers in the rooms, few boats on the water, and a quietude only found in a dying backwater (pun intended). Still, for a biker, it's a bit of paradise. Someone managed to finagle state and federal approval and funding for an eleven mile long, paved "bike" path completely circumnavigating the lake. John and Ken rode this today, and pronounced it primo. But then, they did encounter a tree giving them "the moon".
Most of the rest of the crew sacked out with books at water's edge, swinging in the homemade porch chairs. My exercise jones reappeared, and I swam 23 minutes in the 63 F water, enough to stretch out the lats, and thoroughly chill me to the bone.
Tonight, dinner was surprising. Nicole, our waitress, and our unnamed chef combined to make and serve an almost gourmet quality meal with a view from the second floor dining room of the lake, the trees and the mountains at sunset. With *fresh* blackberry pie a-la-mode this evening, we can't wait to motor up to Crater Lake and tour the rim by bicycle, then shoot back down to the lodge once more.
Miles: 52. Elevation gain: 1670 up, 870 down. 50 - 76 F, clear until 2:30, then overcast (rain tomorrow?)