September 13, 2016 – Jim and Gayle’s house, Eagle, ID to Juntura Hot Springs, Juntura, OR

I had a pretty awesome 10 days or so off in Boise. My whole purpose of coming at this particular time was to go to my friend Brandon’s wedding. In doing so I ended up hanging out with some old friends there and then spent the week doing different things with them and others. Activities included bike riding, bowling, frisbee, football, soccer, and drinking beer. I was able to spend some time my parents and see some family friends. I went back to visit Bishop Kelly during the daytime and saw a number of teachers I hadn’t seen since graduating 11 years ago. Pretty awesome time off of the road and it always has me debating moving back here when I have a visit like this. My upcoming plans are to make it over to Silverton, OR on Friday night in order to go to Oktoberfest on Saturday. It’s about 450 miles, so I’m giving myself 4 days to do it. This puts me as leaving Tuesday morning.

I was hoping to get a 7 AM start and get to Juntura well before sunset. My decisions on Monday night to have some beers and watch the football game made it so when 6 AM rolled around I wanted nothing to do with getting up. So I try (unsuccessfully) to go back to sleep until about 8 when I get up to shower, hoping that will help. It does and then I get packed up, fed, and say goodbye to my parents shortly after 9 AM. At least, in theory, there won’t be as many cars on the road at this time. I make my way along the back streets of Eagle before heading north a little ways to SR 44. Traffic is pretty heavy along here until the junction with I-84 (about 20 miles into my day). I briefly think about taking I-84 but decide against it because I really like the camping spot I have planned for tonight.

So I make my way to US 20/26 and take this through farmland and a couple of small towns before crossing the Snake River and getting back into Oregon. Vale is about 20 miles from here and about 63 on the day. I think about grabbing a quick bite in Nyssa, but decide against it to make my campsite with daylight still happening. I’m in the thick of onion country out here and it must be harvesting time because no less than a dozen trucks full of onions pass by me. There a number of onions in the shoulder as well. Would be a good move if I was heading into Boise to pick up some of these since I’d be able to cook with them.

Anyway, I get to Vale a little after 1:30 and stop at a place called Miracle to grab a burger. I end up chatting with the owner for a little while before getting on my way to bust out the remaining 55 miles or so. I try to maintain a 15 MPH average pace but encounter a 2.5 mile climb about 10 miles up the road that takes me out of the running to maintain the pace. Doesn’t matter that there was an equally long downhill that followed. This eventually put me into Harper and I stopped off at Coleman’s Service. I chat with owner Brian, who I’ve talked with before a couple times and he says he vaguely remembers me. I grabbed a couple of powerades and some beef jerky before getting back on the road. Maybe 6 miles up the road is a construction zone and I spend about 5 minutes talking with the Flagger while waiting for my directions turn to go. I’m going along the Malheur River now and the canyon that it created however many years ago.

It’s a really scenic stretch with the sun slowly starting to become an issue for cars that would be traveling west as well to see me. But the hills and winding road do help out with this quite a bit and then shortly before 7 I find my turnout just before Juntura and make my way back to the hot springs. There are 2 other cars here, which surprises me, but there is also plenty of room out here. I set up my tent before crossing the river to get to the hot springs on an island. A retired couple and a single guy are already in and we chat for a minute before they all head back. I stay for another 10 minutes maybe before deciding I need to head back in order to make sure I can still dry off without being too cold from the river. I suppose I could very easily use my towel and change my clothes, but I just don’t want to do that. When I get back I make an MRE that I’m thankful my Uncle Gary convinced me to take with back in Billings, MT. After dinner I go over to the retired couple’s (Kathy and Ralph) van to chat with them. We end up talking for the better part of an hour as the sunlight faded and now the moonlight is bright from an approaching full moon. Back in my tent a little before 10 and then I fall asleep just after 11 with the sounds of the flowing river maybe 20 feet away from me.

116.14 miles
7:47:38 in the saddle
14.9 Avg. MPH
2470 feet of elevation gained
2103 feet of elevation lost

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About darrenmodonnell

I've been bike touring each summer for the last 5 years. Summer of 2016 I'll be flying up to Alaska on June 1st and riding my bike back down towards the lower 48.
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