Saturday, 17 September 2011

Wenatchee, Washington - A braw, bricht, moonlicht nicht

The full moon rose above the topmost branches of the pine trees and cast long shadows on the woodland floor where our little tents were pitched. No need for torches tonight as we could see as if it were daylight. Despite being cosily tucked up in my sleeping bag, something awoke me in the early hours … a sound very close by that set my heart pounding … it was the howling of the pack!

In North America wildness is so very close at hand and there are so many things to scare the living daylights out of you. You’re always on guard in case of an encounter with a grumpy bear and always scanning the rocky outcrops above as you cycle by. These are the preferred launching pads of mountain lions which, we are told, have come to consider mountain bikers as fair game! Then, of course, if you need to pop into the bushes for a pee, mind you don’t step on a rattlesnake!

So it was with some relief that Graham and I turned south out of the wilds to follow the gorge of the Columbia River, a vast waterway swollen by numerous dams that meanders its way across Washington. In one of its huge meanders it cuts off the Columbia Basin, an arid parched plain of sagebrush and wheat fields where we rode in the worst conditions of the trip as fearsome winds whipped up vicious dust storms. So if you’re thinking about treating me to an expensive spa day in Seattle, forget it – I’m fully exfoliated!

Central Washington was a landscape that took us by surprise as we cycled into vast canyons with cliffs of crumbled red rock that looked for all the world like mini versions of the Grand Canyon. Then the landscape switched again as we left the desert and freewheeled into the fruit orchards of the Wenatchee Valley. Here at Wenatchee we are just about to begin the climb over the Cascade Mountains, the final obstacle between us and Seattle where we have declared the original Starbucks on Pike Place as the finish line for our trans-America bike ride. I wonder which of us will cross the finish line first as the loser buys the coffees!

But what of the howling on that moonlit night? Most probably it was a pack of coyotes which we’ve seen in the fields and forest margins. But maybe … just maybe …

No comments:

Post a Comment