Breakfast of oatmeal in Wauconda. Cowboys and Indians literally. A café that’s closing because, “The landlady has lost her mind but that’s OK, the fella upstairs has got a plan - we just don’t know what it is.” - this from the soon to be displaced current owner as he took our money and his help was loading dishes and cookware in their truck. We may have had the last oatmeal served in Wauconda. If so, let’s hope it’s not the most distinctive event of this trip.
It was near freezing as we climbed over Wauconda Pass but it heated up fast as we made an 18 mile downhill run into Republic, Washington, where we reprovisioned. Compact old gold mining town now the source of Eocene fossils. Tourism their life blood.
Climbed from there to O’Brien Creek where camped beside ice cold mountain stream. Service berry, Ocean Spray shrubs, Wildrose and Penstemon blooming. This was base camp for the rest of Sherman Pass - eight miles of six percent grade, highest pass in Washington - and the fifth we’ve crossed since New Halen. Climbing all these has brought to mind for me the story of the rat in a toilet bowl. It turns out that your average rat can be placed in a toilet bowl and will swim for an hour or so before giving up and going to rat heaven unless he is taken out just before giving up. Do this - then put him back and he’ll swim another hour - and again- and again until you’ve got a rat that’ll swim all day - that will not give up. We’re that rat now, having survived to tell the tale over the last four passes. We know there’s relief ahead if we just persist. No smarter than the rat.
The poem INVICTUS: by Henley
“In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud
under the bludgeoning of chance
My head is bloody but unbowed”
Difference is, of course, we’ve put ourselves in this toilet bowl, no chance there.