Sunday, September 08, 2013

Day 2 August 17th Middle of Rock Lake

Hot and Slow


Day 2 started at 6AM. The trail bed was fast, we were still going down slightly, and we had passed most of the rock debris. By mid-morning we had reached the town of Revere. We really only know the names of these long forgotten towns because they are still listed in the gazetteer. However, they are now mostly only grain silos next to the old railroad bed. Some of the grain silos are still in use but with trucks and some are abandoned. Revere had an active silo. We stopped to fill our water as all active silos have water. We talked to the guy working. It is harvest season as we knew from all the combines and trucks we had seen in the fields. The guy showed us how they unloaded and tested the grain for moisture content. Anything over 17% is rejected. He showed us his rattlesnake rattle collection which was about 30 and a skin. He said he had already collected two this year near the silo. And he talked about watching trains pass on the trail we now rode when he was a child.

When we left Revere the day became hard. The temperature was quickly rising, the grade was climbing, the rail bed was deteriorating, the wind was now steady in our face and against our trailers, and there would be very little shade for the next few days. I suspected the rail grade would become worse as it passed through a nature area and would be receiving little use. These conditions lasted until Marengo. This was one of the toughest parts of the trip. I was suffering but Mathew was doing fairly good. We passed through and area where we had done an orienteering event called the Rock Creek Ramble. I had seen this section before in April and knew it would be tough in August. During this section, I had a flat and a replacement slime tube stem broke when filling. That means our two replacement slime tubes were now used and from inspection of the tubes it was pretty clear that the slime in these old tubes would not be adequate in the coming days.
We rolled into Marengo around 2PM in pretty bad shape. There is now only one farm house and we headed toward it. I asked the very nice lady if we could have some water from her hose and a piece of her shady grass for a while. I never got her name but once again she was one of those kind persons who are always willing to help. After we ate, drank, and hosed ourselves down, cool clarity came back to us. She joined us on the lawn.

She was 84 years old and spent most of her life there. At this location the active Union Pacific crosses the Milwaukee and back in the day this was an active hub. There were many families and railroad workers. There was a depot and she traveled by train. Now it is just her and her son and I think a whole section of wheat fields. She quickly cut to the next issue facing us. “How are you going to cross Cow Creek” she asked. I hedged. I had heard that the bridge was out but after looking at detailed topo maps, Google earth and some early scouting, I thought we could make the 5 mile crossing easy with some bike whacking. The alternative was a very hilly 18 mile ride around on road that I really didn’t want to do. So I answered what would you suggest? To which she replied, “I wouldn’t try going that way unless you want to get shot”. She went on to explain that the adjacent land owner was a piece of work that we should avoid at all costs. So we took it to heart and girded ourselves for a long road ride.

In the end we made it to Ralston on the other end at just past 6PM and I gave Mathew three choices. First, camp in Ralston at the Park, second just get on the paved road to Lind which was about 15 miles and paralleled the trail, or third, try the trail but if it was bad surface move back to the road. Since my goal was to be able to get up early the next day and ride, riding the trail late into the night was not a feasible option. He chose option three and after a quarter of a mile, we were on the road which we knocked out in about 2 hours. Arriving in Lind at 8:30, we grabbed a burger in a tavern and set up out tent in the park next to the active UP line. This mistake came back to haunt us every 30 minutes throughout the night.

Stats for the day
66.5 miles At goal for second night
1,100ft ascent/1500ft descent
13hr 57min total time

1 comment:

Nick Thomas said...

enjoying your travelogue. I am planning to ride the trail west to east this summer. the crab creek detour is a hassle, i've heard before and now you confirm it. But its hard to know who to trust! The old lady who doesnt like her neighboor, or what. But i suppose the remote risk of getting shot is enough to avoid. I've encountered bitter, violent redneck landowners before, and its no joke. Also Goathead vines are no joke either, i hear!
Good to learn that grain silos have potable water. How did your mountain bikes hold up? Reasonably well, or would you recommend riding a Fatbike? Thanks for your great blog.