Our Great American Rail Trail Angel

June 14, 2021
June 14, 2021 Shevonne

Our Great American Rail Trail Angel

The fifth day of our adventure was, by far, the hardest yet. After 11 miles of fairly easy travel heading east out of Ellensburg, WA and riding over a brand new trestle, we entered the US Army’s Yakima Training Grounds. Suddenly the trail

surface turned into pure sand, making cycling with our tires impossible. During the peak of the 90-degree afternoon heat, Shevonne and I had to dismount and push our bicycles on foot, uphill. This went on for four difficult miles until we reached the Boylston Tunnel. Technically, cyclists are supposed to walk up and over the tunnel, on a side trail, because the tunnel is in a slow state of decay, with rocks occasionally falling off the ceiling. As it was about 50 degrees inside, we decided to chance it, given our sturdy bicycle helmets. We pushed through all the tumbleweed inside the tunnel, carried our bicycles over the heavy rock falls in the center of the tunnel and emerged on the other side to find a jumbled mess of sage brush and a bog to navigate! At last, we thought as we looked at the topography, we were going to be able to revel in the gradual downhill trek for better than 10 miles, on a somewhat ridable surface, (though there were ruts and plenty of rocks to maneuver around and I fell four times). Then, suddenly a vicious wind storm kicked in, with gusts over 50 mph. For the last couple of miles we once again had to walk our bikes and hold on to them for dear life as the winds threatened to throw us or our cycles over the steep hillsides. After arriving at the trailhead by the Columbia River, we were wasted. We had been the only folks on that trail for several hours.  And although we didn’t say anything to each other, we each assumed we would not make it another three miles to our reserved campsite and would have to endure a night of sitting up in the wind because putting a tent up would have meant sheer destruction. our tent.

There are times in life, however, where something occurs that “was meant to be.”  When we arrived at the last trailhead, a gentleman was parked in his camper. He originally had plans to spend the night there, but due to the fierce winds, he was about to drive elsewhere. Extremely exhausted with several small cuts and bruises, I brazenly asked him if he wouldn’t mind taking two wiped out cyclists to Wanapum State Park. He said “Sure.”  So Shevonne and I hopped into his camper, (after loading all the panniers and the bicycles into the back of his camper) and he drove us to the state park.  Once at the park, our new best friend, Bob, spent the night in his camper while we determinedly got our tent up in the whipping wind. He cooked up a lovely dinner for us complete with appetizers and drinks.  As we chatted we learned Bob, (aka our Trail Angel) is an avid cyclist and is an advocate for bicycle trails in the State of Washington.  The perfect person for us to run into!  He also provided us with some very useful advice about the not-so-good conditions of the Palouse to Cascades Trail in eastern Washington meaning today while chilling out, we are figuring out a new route to Idaho.

Bob invited us back into his camper earlier today for breakfast and offered us a ride to Moses Lake. Given yesterday’s horrendous 35 miles, we eagerly agreed. Otherwise we would have been riding on Interstate 90 all day in the blazing sun.  It was during that conversation we learned a new acronym from Bob. “So you aren’t one of those EFI trail riders then?” said Bob. “What does that stand for?”, I asked.

“Making sure to ride Every F’ing Inch of the trail,” he replied. We laughed. I think we met our match on yesterday’s trail, making us much more willing to leave EFI behind! We may see Bob once again in Cataldo, ID, where he will be cycling for the next few days. Did I mention that Bob is 77 years old and has cycled many miles around the USA and on other continents? He’s one amazing individual and we are extremely glad to welcome him into our lives.


Follow us as we keep spinning.





Comments (15)

  1. Not sure how I came upon your trip, but having lived in The Valley for 30+ years, I was intrigued to follow your adventures (i.e. don’t know you…but I know you). The west is certainly a different world and we have loved living here for the last 18 years.
    Keep the pedals moving, but don’t forget to enjoy the view… Peace

    • Shevonne

      Hi Linda,

      Yes, the west is incredibly different yet we have found it incredibly friendly. Not a clue yet as to how we get through Montana though.

  2. Ralph

    Hooray for Bob! So glad this story has a silver lining. Btw, these posts are wonderful – descriptive, informative and super engaging. Keep on adventuring! And keep on posting!

    • Shevonne

      Hi Ralph and Tara and Lucy and Gabriel,

      We are now in Idaho. We are having a blast.

  3. Lisa Brown

    Glad to hear you guys survived! It sounded grueling! Thank God for Bob!!!

  4. Marge Hamrell

    What a wonderful story!! This is one for the records..love this adventure you two tough nuts are determined to do!

    • Shevonne

      Glad you are enjoying it! I figured it was now or never so we continue to give it a shot. Loving meeting lots of people.

  5. Sue

    So very glad you met Bob and are regrouping. Sounds like an amazing experience in so many ways and we are glad you are both a-ok! Thanks for all the updates – Keep on rolling! Hugs from Moretown

    • Shevonne

      Idaho has been wonderful thus far. Never saw your boys – well, maybe we did but they didn’t acknowledge us or offer us any beer. We are now freaking out about the next part of the bad news – that there is 12 miles of ballast on the Nor Pac trail. Grrr.

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