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RAINING IN THE RAIN FOREST

I checked the weather forecast this morning. The 100% chance of rain predicted yesterday for today had been updated to an 80% chance – which was all the encouragement I needed to make a run for Cascade Locks. The thought of sitting around a motel room for an entire day was even less appealing than riding in the rain.

A light drizzle was falling when I left the motel, which was encouraging. “They call this rain?” I thought. “Hah! I can handle this.” Five minutes later the deluge began. I was soaked to the bone before I got to Packwood. That’s how it went much of the day. Thankfully, the deluges were of short duration even though there were many of them.

Since there was about 6000′ of climbing on today’s route, the clouds and showers were really a blessing. They kept me cool and perspiration to a minimum which reduced the amount of water I needed. With no towns or services along the route after the first twenty miles, I would have been hard pressed to hydrate myself had the day been hot.

Forest Service Road 25 climbed swiftly and steeply out of Randle. The pavement was good and the traffic barely merited the term. While I wouldn’t call it exactly scenic (much of the time I was walled in by thick forest) the absence of cars was a welcome change from yesterday. The road passed just to the west of Mt St Helens and had several designated vista points for viewing that decapitated volcano. Unfortunately, the clouds and mist obscured any views today.

The only two options with dry beds were Randle at mile 20 and Cascade Locks at miles 115. Randle hardly justified leaving my hotel near Packwood but Cascade Locks seemed painfully distant. With no towns in between I expected I would have to camp along the way. The recent rain and the natural rain forest vegetation (see photo above) along the route made camping decidedly distasteful. This is prime slug country after all so I was powerfully motivated to go all out for Cascade Locks. I crossed the Bridge of the Gods over the Columbia River just as darkness fell – tired but happy to have made it.

Tomorrow I’ll ride west along the Columbia for about twenty miles and then turn south toward Crater Lake. Bend is the only town of any size along the route so I may be out of cell phone and Internet territory for several days.

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