Having experienced the mosquito attack at dusk last night there was no way I was getting up before sunrise so I just laid in my sleeping bag, waking up, waiting for the sun to rise over the horizon. Even then, there were plenty of mosquitos around – what a PITA. We fought them all morning while getting ready, watching each other to see if they landed on either of us. Killed a bunch but one or two got through :-(.
Today was going to be a challenging ride on OR 82 and then 3 (known as Hells Canyon Scenic Byway). The ride into Enterprise wasn’t too bad. The ‘good stuff’ was still ahead of us. Leaving Enterprise after having lunch at a Safeway we once again go through the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest where they had recently ‘resurfaced’ the road way….on the cheap. They basically spray liquid tar on the road, throw on some fresh gravel and call it a day.
That’s OK for cars but on a motorcycle that’s not so good since the gravel has a tendency to accumulate in the middle of the lane which you tend to cross when picking a line through a corner. In fact, about 20 miles north of Enterprise we passed a sweeper crew that was cleaning off excess gravel and gravel that had come loose :-(. Needless to say, this was a gentle ride, staying mostly in the gravel free lanes left by the car tires. No pucker moments but definitely higher stress.
Once we left the Joseph Canyon scenic overlook the really challenging riding started. Miles and miles of 25mph max signs with the road literally hugging the mountain side, following every contour. First, down from the national forest and then back up on the Washington side (route 129)- 15 miles of twisties getting back up on the plateau. Mostly 2nd and 3rd gear material. Here’s a map of that stretch of road, zoomed in to the max in terrain view. I encourage you to move along the route to get a feeling for how twisty this road really is. Especially route 129 that starts at 1600ft (487m) and winds along the mountain up to 3600ft (1097m). Simply amazing.
Diane did great during all of it! She went at her own pace, focusing on the turns and riding them properly. There was probably more turning in that short stretch of road than what she did all of last year ;-). Sorry, no pictures … we were too busy riding and enjoying ourselves. The plateau above Clarkston/Lewiston is one huge grain field after another, golden brown surrounded by mountains. Often times it’s not opportune to stop (narrow or no shoulder at all) so we have far fewer pictures than we would like.
Our campground for the night is Hells Gate State Park on the Idaho side (Lewiston, ID) of the Snake River. Not as luxurious as last night but (so far) mosquito free – which counts for a lot.
Here’s todays route.