Monday, July 30, 2007

Day 5: Burns to Frenchglen, OR

We went into today expecting an easy refresh day after yesterday’s 90 miles only to find that each day presents its own challenges. Although the road from Burns to Frenchglen is only 60 miles and mostly flat it became one of our most grueling rides. With long stretches of open prairie land, cross winds and a clear view of exactly what lay ahead today’s ride was a tough one.

As the miles slipped past us we entered the wildlife refuge that surrounds Frenchglen and prairie turned into marsh grass and rock banded hills. In the end we were rewarded for the days efforts with dip in a deep, fresh swimming hole (3 sandwiches), a home cooked meal at the Frenchglen Hotel, and air conditioned rooms and a grassy lawn to camp on. Much to our glee the bugs that we had been warned about seemed to be taking the night off.

After a brief nap we headed off to Steens Mountain Wilderness Area, which we had been watching on the horizon all day. I don’t think any of us were prepared for the take-your-breath-a-way beauty of this amazing place. The Steens is one of the places Conservation Alliance Grants helped to preserve. Standing atop this 9,000 ft. mountain overlooking geographic features unlike anything I have ever seen before, watching the sunset, then the moon rise was a moment of a lifetime and the kind of experience that makes the importance of the work of conservation groups across the world come into sharp perspective. I am so grateful the Steens will be available for future generations to experience.

As we turn in tonight we are all looking forward to a great rest day tomorrow as we head off to Idaho.

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