Beaver to Wah-Wah - The woman who sat on the toilet too long (and other odd American tales) - CycleBlaze

July 8, 2014

Beaver to Wah-Wah

Boots are made for... lining fences
Heart 1 Comment 0

THERE ARE several things to tell you. First (because you have been sleeping badly since I mentioned it), I found a waterproofing spray and stood in a supermarket car park and emptied it on my jacket. Second, the ride to rejoin the Western Express at Minersville and then on to Milford is a delightful spin down a pretty valley and across a short plain. Third, the long climb out of Milford that marks the start of 125km with neither food nor water would be less unpleasant if Americans stopped seeing the great outdoors as their personal trash can. And fourth, we did find and even revelled in the broken-down bungalow, its lone tree and the running water that Terry had told us were at the foot of Wah-Wah pass.

The day will come when many Americans realise the great outdoors isn't their personal trash can. There were bottles and drink cartons for hour after hour
Heart 0 Comment 0

The boots on the fence that you've seen in the photo were on the way to Milford. Behind them, separated from the road by 50 metres, stooped figures in floppy hats poked at the dust.

"Cool!", Karen gasped, all excited. "An archaeological dig!" We are all different and she gets a bigger thrill out of that sort of thing than I do. I was more interested in the boots.

There's a café as you leave Milford. By then the climb has started and eating gives the sensation that convicts feel before their date with the noose. Beyond there, nothing.

Open, open countryside as we climb through the virtual desert
Heart 0 Comment 0

The road climbed steadily and exposed to the sun, lined by beer bottles every metre between and below the struggling sage bushes. There's little

Heart 0 Comment 0

to say other than that we despaired, pedalled, paused and pushed on again. The hill wasn't steep but it was long, 22km from Milford to the first pass. At 8-10kmh, that's close on three hours, getting through water at a disturbing rate until clouds closed above us.

Frisco, the first summit, is no more than a bench, a shelter and a panel to explain that once this was a mining town of 4 000. So hard to imagine so high up, just as it had been a struggle to imagine the town which had stood on the hill beside the Orient Land Trust, so far back on this ride. For decades, all had gone well. There were banks and saloons and everything else you'd expect of a town six times larger than present-day Milford. And then times changed and in weeks the people went away and the buildings disappeared and all you see now are hints of old roads in the scrub.

Wah-Wah was next, the same length but steeper. Above, clouds that had protected us now threatened instead. It grew cold and menacing. We paused at the summit, checked our notes and the memory of what Terry had told us - was the bungalow at the summit or down in the valley? - and then decided that if it had "the only tree for miles and it's the only thing you can see", we could safely sweep downhill until we spotted it.

"The only tree for miles," Terry told us. And he was right
Heart 0 Comment 0

For a while it was hard to imagine. Half-hearted trees grew at the top of the mountain, then vanished as we descended, the opposite of the way mountains usually behave. And then there was nothing - except for the bungalow and the tree, so near but six kilometres away.

The first sweep of rain caught us just before we reached the abandoned house. But at least it washed the dried sweat salt off my legs
Heart 1 Comment 0

A storm threatened to make our evening uncomfortable but did no more than wash the salt from my legs. The bungalow was what Terry had said - derelict, windowless, crockery still on the shelves, two beds suffering from broken windows. Behind it, the remains of the cattle corral that must only recently have been

You have to know it's there: running water keeps the tree - and cyclists - alive
Heart 0 Comment 0

why it was here. That couldn't have been long ago to judge by the cow pats.

We settled in, enveloped by a desert silence so dominant that our ears rung, and spent the night in the wilderness.

Oh, and the water left running from a well tasted good, by the way.

Today's ride: 130 km (81 miles)
Total: 5,025 km (3,121 miles)

Rate this entry's writing Heart 1
Comment on this entry Comment 0