Day Eighty One: Four Passes to Eureka
Distance: 77 mi.
Elevation gain: 4,255
Song of the Day: Star Sail — The Verve
Four major passes and one lesser uphill stretch were aided by generous cloud cover lingering over each summit.
Exitng the third basin and cutting down into the final mountain pass brought us into an onslaught of headwinds, nearly stopping us in our tracks. We consumed nearly an hour completing the two-mile approach to the mountain base, hard enough struggling downhill until we reached a slight incline and it got even tougher. Though we expended a good portion of our spare energy, we recovered quickly, a testament to our stamina which must be nearing the peak of our abilities. The wind died down when the steep climbing got underway and we made it OK spurred along with the occasional energy chew.
We’ve now climbed over 10,000 feet in three days. Lizzie keeps mixing up new metaphors to describe her legs: wet noodles, cardboard cut-outs, jelly doughnuts, unfired clay.
Rolled into Eureka by 2PM, a construction worker was gutting a wooden facaded rancher motel on main street and I asked him about a place to pitch a tent that wouldn’t trouble anybody. Hr pointed twenty feet away from the street and told me we’d find “Our Park” there, a public park where all the cyclists camp out. We grabbed food from Urban Cowboy, enchiladas for me and chile relleno for Liz; more expensive than we’d hoped but truly delicious.
The lush green park had clean and pleasant smelling bathrooms and a clean water spigot stuck into the yard. We set up our tent near a town commons BBQ grill somebody dedicated a while back. A few locals took interest in us, strutting up to tell us what brought them into town, mostly cheap real estate and the prospect of extractive industry growth; dimmer hopes now, neighbors keep putting homes on the market and they just sit there for years until the structure rots away. “You don’t stick around this town for the money,” we are told, “you do it for the solitude.”
3AM: Terror as hidden sprinklers spring up everywhere in the park. We knew they were there, but didn’t expect them to strike tonight. In groggy idiocy we fastened the rain fly down, closed the vent, put in earplugs, and suffered through it. Certain I didn’t sleep for the rest of the night.