Tour without a goal – 21 July 2014


I have all the vestment I will ever need,
not gauzy silk nor twill,
and if you ask about the color,
neither red, nor purple . . .
In the summer it’s light as wings;
in the winter it’s my quilt.
Winter or summer, of use in both . . .
Year upon year,
just this.
-Han Shan

the grey mountain
It had been a peaceful night in my little spot in the woods and while I had to filter my water from Iron Creek I really appreciate being able to camp in the woods. I was very close to the junction with FR25 and was soon back on the climb to Elk Pass. Four miles in the woods on this chilly yet clear morning. The pass itself is unmarked, demarcated only be a sign warning of miles of steep grades ahead. This was a fun descent, without much traffic I was able to take advantage of the full winding road and ride it down. Distractions from the pure descent was the mountains that began to reveal themselves, first Mt. Adams and then finally Mt. St. Helens.


St. Helens dominates the landscape in a similar, if in a less dramatic fashion than Mt. Rainier a bit further north. The the fresh snows melted off In the summer warmth only the old glaciers remain, which are all grey with impacted ash. There was a succession of viewpoints throughout the day each revealing more of the mountain and the surrounding landscape. Em long descent finally concluded and I was in the usual river valley you find below these passes. This time though the route turned and began the climb toward another pass.


The climb to Oldman Pass was among the most unforgiving of the passes I’ve done. Not an epically high pass at only 3050′, but it does all of its climbing in just over four miles. It’s initial section was the steepest grade yet on any of these passes. Around three quarters of the way up there was an overlook with a final view of St. Helens, perhaps the most volcanic looking view. Once Oldman Pass was surmounted it was a steep, toasty descent down to the Wind River. The Wind River valley gently descending for many miles through moss strewn trees along the rocky river. Eventually I left the Gifford Pinchot National Forest which I left feeling there was a lot more to explore here. I will be back. I ended up,in Carson and after days in the mountains felt odd to be back into civilization (as it were). A few miles off route is the Home Valley County Campground where I stayed for the night. A pretty beat down ‘ground right on the Columbia River I was rewarded with a shrinking sunset that evening.


coming down from the mountains
among ordinary people again
I can’t seem to see what they see
or say what they expect to hear
my eyes have been rinsed by mountain streams
my tongue thick from lack of use
they ask me where I’ve been
and I don’t know what to say
vaguely flapping my hands northwards
I point toward high peaks.

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