Biologist on a Bike

Day 8: Ochoco Lake County Park, OR to Mitchell, OR

Distance: 40.2 mi
Average Speed 10.9 mph; Max Speed: 32.2 mph
Elevation Gain: 2,283 ft
Average Temp: 70.0 F; Temp Range: 46.4-89.6 F


Today was a very short day. At 40 miles, it included one mountain pass. The next town on is another 38 miles, and over a second mountain pass.

I closed the last entry saying that it was going to be a good night…I was wrong.

For the first time in this tour, exhaustion didn’t win. I woke up a number of times, tossing and turning. It was so bad at one point that I woke up with my headphone cord wrapped (loosely) around my neck. I had my favorite podcast to sleep to going all night (Sleep With Me) and that helped some, but I woke feeling like I had barely slept. It wasn’t the fault of noise or, as far as I could tell, physical discomfort. Just one of those nights, I guess. Possibly the fatigue I feel now because of that will make tonight a solid night.

Where I woke up, Day 8

Last night I made an attempt to pre-pack as much of my gear as possible. I measured out my breakfast into a small Ziploc and put it on top in one of the two panniers I carry food in. I packed and sealed the other pannier, and did my best to organize the rest of my gear for easy packing. It worked out pretty well, actually. I was all but packed before the water had finished heating for breakfast.

This campsite didn’t have any electricity at the sites, but there were a few sockets in the bathroom. In the evening, I plugged my batteries in for a few hours, and I did the same for an hour or so this morning. That was enough to charge up my phone, GPS, iPod, and headphones, but my tablet was all but out of power. Still, I had enough to get me through the pass and to Mitchell with a functioning GPS, which was all I needed.

Lake Ochoco in the morning

Today was a lonesome day. There were no towns to pass through, just 40 miles of open road, including the Ochoco Pass, between me and my destination. Not that the scenery wasn’t stunning.

I’m not sure what’s up with this tree

On the slow ride up the pass, I turned on some podcasts. On a recommendation, I had downloaded a bunch of episodes of “The Truth.” The first one was a dramatization of the conversation Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin might have had if they had crashed and been stranded on the moon, followed by a reading of the speech written for Pres. Nixon for that contingency. It was riveting. I don’t want to put down any of the following episodes, they were also good (with one notable exception that I did not care for), but that was a hard act to follow.

Thank you to the person who wanted to remind me to be happy as I rode

As expected from looking at the elevation profile, Ochoco Pass wasn’t nearly as challenging as McKenzie Pass. I reached the summit in good time and had a fun, speedy descent down the other side.

Ochoco Pass Summit

A view from near the top.

Long roads through tree-studded hills

It wasn’t even 1PM when I arrived at Spoke’n Hostel, a church run by a couple, Pat and Jalét, who adhere to the philosophy of Courageous Hospitality. Outside is a water station with Gatorade powder, a post of bike tools, and other signs of welcome.

Spoke’n Hostel and Praise

Welcome sign

Water sitting out by the roadside.

The bike theme is strong.

Inside, what would be the sanctuary is filled with bunk beds and comfortable seating, since they believe that if they want to truly live Courageous Hospitality, they have to make hospitality the priority. The congregation meets in the basement area, where there are pews (currently set up around tables for conversation and/or work) and a full kitchen.

The main room.

There are games and other activities all around, from board games to puzzles, to a bowl of conversation starting questions such as “Have you ever thrown up in public? Tell about it.” And “What superpowers would you like to have?”

A few games upstairs. There are more elsewhere.

Out in the back is a shower, a place to do laundry (using a clever combination of two buckets and a plunger, and more seating, including hammocks. There is currently only one other guest, who started his TransAm ride from Seattle two weeks ago. He’s travelling light, only two panniers and a backpack, and is the first fellow TransAm rider I’ve met so far.

Pat and Jalét took us both out to the Painted Hills around sunset in the church van. Sunset, they said, was the time to see them. Photos can’t quite capture the spectacular play of light and shadow, but they can convey it better than words.

Me in front of the painted hills

Painted hills at sunset

Painted hills at sunset 2

Painted hills at sunset 3

This is the material the painted hills are made of. It’s very crumbly when dry.

I’m glad I had a short day so that I could enjoy this to the fullest. A+ and I highly recommend this stop to anyone thinking of staying in Mitchell. If you are spiritual, I don’t think you could fail to be moved by this couple’s devotion to living their faith. You don’t need to be spiritual to appreciate the cozy atmosphere and warm welcome offered to all.

I plan for tomorrow to be a long day, starting with a mountain pass, ending with a long, slow climb into Prairie City, a good jumping off point for the three passes that will be left between me and Baker City.

More flowers

Roadkill count: 1 goat, 1 deer, 1 unknown mammal.

Map Day 8


10 thoughts on “Day 8: Ochoco Lake County Park, OR to Mitchell, OR

  1. EDW

    The painted hills are lovely. May have to drive out there. Now that you’ve met another TransAm cyclist, will you be riding together?

  2. Marian Smith

    Now I am doubly sorry we never got to Oregon. Beautiful sights. This is one of the 3 states out of 50 we didn’t visit. So jealous. We are so glad you are sharing this adventure.

  3. gailw

    OMG – those pictures of the painted hills are amazing! Must go see those! I continue to love your pictures (and video) and live vicariously through these. What an amazing trip and it seems like you are meeting wonderful people all along the way – I hope it continues.

    1. Spin Doctor Post author

      According to Pat and Jalet, it doesn’t count unless you go at sunset. I would definitely recommend it.

  4. Rhoda Freeman

    I’m catching up on reading these again and this episode is wonderful, going from a downer of a night to euphoria of this wonderful couple’s hospitality and gorgeous scenery throughout! Keep on keeping on!

  5. Suzan Lauder

    You look pretty in that picture, and the painted hills are wonderful! It looks and sounds like a really nice place to stay.

  6. Leslie Diamond

    The painted hills are gorgeous. Love seeing the picture of you, too. 🙂 Goat for roadkill? Even in the UK, I haven’t seen a goat as roadkill and there are pastures of them around. Stay safe!

    1. Spin Doctor Post author

      There were some goats in the area. Perhaps one got out? Or maybe it died on its own and was left there. It’s hard to tell sometimes.

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