Goose Lake – 7/13/08

Destination: Goose Lake for some float tube flyfishing for trout with 1HotTraumaMama from Ifish.

The alarm clock went off at 5am and I lurched out of bed thinking, “I’m in no kind of shape to get on my bike.”  I had a couple cups of coffee, smoked a few cigarettes and made preparations to ride out and the head settled in just fine.  By 6am I was loaded up with gear, lunch, water and ready to roll.  I put the dogs out in the garage and gave them a couple of bowls of food to hold them in case I didn’t return for some reason.

I topped the tank off before hitting the highway.  The sun had already risen but was low on the horizon making for some spectacular scenery and I was glad that I’d chosen to wear jeans under my riding pants as it was rather brisk still.  I soon crossed over the Sandy River, my home river, and thought to myself, “I hope to see you again soon.”  It’s been too long since I’ve fished the Sandy as I’ve been waiting for the snowmelt to subside and the river levels to drop.  A half hour later I was passing Multnomah Falls.  I was  mesmerized by the sprinklers spraying the lawn of the parking area in the middle of Hwy 84 lit by the rising sun.  It was like a performance art piece repeated daily with the rising sun.  I didn’t even look to the falls.  Another half an hour of my thoughts bouncing around inside the padded cell of my helmet found me in Hood River.

The weather was forecasting winds 10-20 out of the northwest that day and the Hood River bridge is rather exposed.  Unbeknownst to me, it’s also a large span of steel grating.  If you’ve ever driven a car over a steel grating bridge, you probably noted that a car has a tendency to wander back and forth a bit.  The effect is the same on a bike and it can be rather unsettling.  I paid the toll and headed out across the bridge.  The wee handled it pretty well actually, not wandering too badly but I had it in my head to be careful.  In fact, I was beginning to hyperventilate halfway across when I finally got a grip on myself.  As I neared the end of the bridge on the Washington side I noted a left turn and hoped that it would be pavement.  It was and I completed the bridge without incident.  Instead of turning left toward my destination, I hung a right to the nearby store and inquired about ear plugs, which once again I’d forgotten to bring with me.  All they had were swimmers ear plugs to I stepped outside for a smoke and a chance for the adrenaline to settle out.

I saddled back up and headed west, backtracking to Hwy 141 headed north.  As I gained elevation, I enjoyed the twisties and settled back comfortably into the saddle. There were farms and ranches along the road and I contemplated what all these people do for a living, how they live their lives and what they think of all the vehicles that flock into the woods on Friday and Saturday and flock back out of the woods come Sunday.

In order to fish I needed a license and I’d looked up on the Washington Fish and Wildlife site for retailers so the next stop was “bz Corner” (I shit you not, look it up on Google maps).  As I pulled off the highway into the small store, I noted two bikes at the pumps and one of them was a blue Wee.  I chuckled to myself as I swung around and parked.  I talked to the guy a bit and he had come down from Olympia, about 200 miles north and was headed back up that day.  I bid him a safe ride and went inside only to find out that the guy at the counter didn’t know how to work the machine to make me a license but said I could get one up in Trout Lake.

So I saddled up and headed north some more.  As I passed some open pasture land I saw Mt Adams clearly for the first time.  Near the base I noted what I thought to be mountain fog but thought it wasn’t the right season for it.  In the early springtime, as the sun warms the ground, fog will rise from pockets below the timberline.  We’ve still got lots of snow tucked in around the bases of the trees in the forest so I didn’t think much of it as I pulled into Trout Lake and bought my license at the local general store.  Back in the saddle I followed 141 as it bent west and soon the pavement ended and the adventure part of adventure touring began.

Not having spent any time on a dirt bike, I really didn’t know what to expect.  I constantly had to remind myself to ease up my tension and let the bike do its job.  Though the ride into the lake was uneventful, I still have plenty to learn about riding on ‘the loose stuff’. I circled up through the camp area and found where I needed to be.

I parked the bike at campsite #20 and walked down into camp wondering whether I was late and they were already out fishing or I was early and they were still sleeping.  As I made the last few steps into camp Destinee, Sonia’s daughter stumbled gracefully from the tent.  I was early.  People emerged from tents here and there, stretching and shaking off the sleep, breakfast was made and soon we were off to go fishing.

The fishing: Goose Lake is what one would generally term a ‘high mountain’ lake, fed by snowmelt runoff.  It’s crystal clear and pretty darned cold considering my waders had a few leaks in them and I wasn’t really well insulated.  I’d been in a float tube once before so I sort of knew the drill.  Sonia’s brother-in-law was playing a nice little trout within fifty yards of the put in.  We worked our way to the far end of the lake (because the fishing is always better ‘over there’) where Sonia proceeded to put the hurt on me.  Despite having a bum wrist in a brace, she managed to limit out while I dropped the only fish I landed back into the lake.  It was fine with me though since I still had a blast bobbing around, missing bites and making note of the converted bomber airplane that was making laps over the valley and because I rarely eat trout anyway.

We finally got off the water around 2pm and I helped Sonia break camp and pack up.  As they set off, I found that it was getting late and I hadn’t eaten the lunch I’d packed but I didn’t want to take the extra time to eat (I really should have) because that would just put the sun that much farther down toward the horizon and into my eyes as I headed west back to Portland.

I put them ahead of me by a bit so I wouldn’t have to ‘eat dust’ on the way out.  The usual amount of squirrely-ness from riding the gravel out quickly gave way to pavement and I cycled up through the gears and leaned into the turns.  About five miles of pavement yielded a small herd of elk, which I managed to honk off of the road.  I passed Sonia and crew at Trout Lake where they’d stopped for a pit stop and washup, but met them again at an opening farther down 141 with a clear view of Mt Adams.

What I’d assumed to be a bit of fog rising in the morning was actually the beginnings of the Cold Springs Wildfire.  Apparently started by a lightning strike about a week earlier, it smoldered all week before erupting into a much larger fire. This is what the converted bomber was flying back and forth about all day.

I continued riding south and went west on Hwy 14 along the Washington side of the Columbia River.  It’s a nice stretch of road with some nice curves and a little elevation gain and loss here and there.  If it weren’t for the rapidly setting sun, it would have been a little more pleasant.  Worse than that, the northwest winds were gusting at least twenty mph through the gorge; anytime there were openings to the north of me, the wind would gust and buffet.  It wasn’t dangerous but it wasn’t really pleasant either.

By the time I’d gotten to Cape Horn, a little bit west of Vista House on the Oregon side, I had to stop.  I’d heard before about problems with the footpeg to seat arrangement and hadn’t had a problem with previously.  But having spent more than a few hours kicking around in the float tube, I was fatigued enough to become susceptible to it and my knees were killing me.  A minute or two later, a nice older gentleman on a Harley stopped to stretch his legs and snap a few pics.  We talked for a bit while I finished my smoke, then he took off and I got back into my gear.  I passed him on the side of the road just a few curves down but by the time I hit the offramp for Hwy 205 back across the river he’d caught up with me and gave me a wave.  I crossed the river and came home on Hwy 84.

Rolling up into the driveway, I discovered I had left the hose running watering the cherry tree in the front yard.  Guess I won’t have to water it for another month or so.

Total distance: just under 200 miles.