FYI: The Wallowa loop road is currently closed due to washout from flooding! Repair is underway but is not open yet! For updates you can visit the Wallowa/Whitman National Forest web site to track repair progress and possible opening. This message thanks to an anonymous commenter below. Thanks!
(This is a joint post of DartreDame and CurioRando)
It started as a germ of an idea—as many crazy ideas do. Mary B., our friend in Joseph, Oregon, had told us that she biked to Salt Creek Summit for a ride a friend had organized for his birthday. 6100 feet up, it was a beautiful spot, just about 20 miles from Joseph. Our friend Rich told us that he had come at the Summit the other way, from Halfway to Joseph, as Day 5 of Cycle Oregon. The road from Halfway (Wallowa Mountain Loop) is only open from April to October. Running right through Hell’s Canyon Recreation Area, it is known as one of the premier scenic byways in all of America. “It kicked my butt,” said Rich to us with a proud smile, “But I did it! No sag-wagons here.”
And there it was.
The germ of an idea: Bike from Joseph to Halfway and back. We fertilized it by pulling out topo maps, tracing the route through a giant map, a route that seemed to go up, up, up, and then down, down, down…and then the same thing all over again. We added compost by researching good B&B’s in Halfway to stay overnight so we could do it over two days and wouldn’t have to carry gear. And then, the final touch—like adding a heat lamp to a growing garden. We committed. We decided we wouldn’t be too proud to hitch a ride back if we didn’t finish, but we were definitely going to give this a shot.
The details of the trip: 75 miles each way, with three summits. About 4,600+ feet of climbing out to Halfway, elevation: about 2,600 feet. And then 75 miles back, with about 6,000 feet of climbing, back into Joseph, elevation: about 4,100 feet. Here's a great link that shows the topography and the elevation profile for the route that's too big to load into the blog: www.vlmk.com/co2008/day5.pdf
Here’s our collage of images…