No swimming today. I drove to Patterson Lake, got out of my car, and just felt too tired to get in the water.
So, with the extra time, I elected to return to Twisp via Elbow Coulee. We run on a section of this road for the Sun Flower Relay, but I didn't realize that the road goes through the hills from the Patterson Lake area to the Twisp River valley. Always good to know these things.
My plan for the day was more off-road, cyclocross riding, this time with gears.
Returning from Wolf Creek the previous day, I'd made a car foray up the Bear Creek Road. Right at pavement's end I saw Lester Road heading off into the hills. I looked very tempting so I consulted my maps and decided that this would be my next CX ride.
Turned out to be a good choice.
My maps showed a nice loop heading up Lester, then past Campbell Lake and returning via Davis Lake where I'd pick up the paved road and ride back uphill to my car. Sounded like a winner.
So, after my non-swim morning I did my usual work/eat/get ready thing then loaded up my bike and drove up to the end of the Bear Creek pavement. Boy was I glad to have some gears; the road really kicked up in a few place, but before I knew it I was up in a high valley with gentle terrain.
None of the intersections were signed so I stopped at each one to consult my map and figure out which way to go. I cruised down past Campbell Lake, noticing that there were 3 cars parked there. Where the people were I had no idea because I couldn't see them out on the lake and it didn't look like hiking country to me.
Just past the lake I rode through a herd of grazing Black Angus cattle. I'm always a bit wary around these animals because they're BIG and I certainly didn't want one kicking up its heels too near me. They seemed just as wary about me, however. As I pedaled by they lifted their heads from grazing to give me a stare.
Just past the cattle the road came to an end in a big turnaround! There was a gate with a posting about no authorized access beyond here. I could see a little path heading around the gate and through the bushes but it looked kind of gnarly and I'm a real CX weenie. Later I talked to a couple of people about it and was told that there's only a very short bad section where I was and then it turns into an unmaintained road. I was also told that there could be a lot of snakes there. The snake story left me with few regrets.
So, back through the cattle herd, past the lake and a return to my last intersection. At that point I elected to go more uphill to see what was ahead. Up, up, up until I got a great view downward to Campbell Lake. A little farther and I reached a high point and more map consulting.
At this point I could continue down, not knowing exactly where I'd end up and knowing I'd certainly have a long uphill to return, no matter what, when a kind soul showed up and helped me to decide.
A truck came up the hill and stopped just beyond me.
I walked over, introduced myself, and asked for some help. This was a local person, up to walk and glass for animals. He helped me to find myself on the map and also helped me to decide what to do next.
In the end I took his suggestion to go back down the hill I'd just come up then ride up to Cougar Lake and return down Bear Creek Road.
What a great suggestion!
After a short climb up from Lester Road I came out into a classic Eastern Washington high pine forested valley. A short side road took me over to Cougar Lake, a little gem tucked away in the dry hills of the Methow.
Then it was just a matter of controlling my speed and pucker factor as I pretty much was able to coast the rest of my route back to the car. Even though these roads were in good shape they still had plenty of pointy little rocks and chuck holes both of which I wanted to avoid with my wimpy tires and no-suspension bike.