The end is near


East of Baker City lies the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, built right where the Oregon Trail once passed. When they reached this point, the emigrants had left the hot and dry Hells Canyon, and were slowly moving towards the Blue Mountains, a final hurdle that had to be taken before they reached the Columbia River. It must have been both a magnificent and frightening sight to see.

Today the snowy peaks of the Elkhorn Ridge still look the same as 150 years ago. From the museum, situated on a large hill, I took a picture of the ridge. The little white dot on the left is a full-size ‘prairie schooner’, a wagon like the ones the emigrants traveled in. It gives a pretty good idea about the size of this country, and how small and insignificant the people were that crossed it.

The valley through which the Powder River runs is colored green by potato, beet, onion and corn. Cows and horses feed themselves on the rich grass. Just like it must have been for the travelers to Oregon, this fertile land is a welcome change for me from the grey and brown hills covered with sagebrush.
By now, I begin to notice that I’m starting to get a little travel-weary. I’m not as surprised anymore at the things I see, and I am not as eager to have a conversation with people I meet along the way.
Just this afternoon, at a gas station, a man told me about his motorcycle crash with some huge bird of prey. It cost him a part of his arm. A thrilling story, and a few weeks ago I would have hung on his lips. Now, all I really want him to do is go. I want to ride, move on, focused only on my goal of reaching the end of the trail.

I can imagine that it must have been the same for the emigrants. By now, there was no way back, but there was still a very long way ahead, and they knew it. They were tired of traveling but had no choice but to move on.
Today, I traveled a distance in a few hours that would have taken the emigrants, in this mountainous region, about ten days. The longer I am on the road, the more admiration -or should I say wonder- I feel for the people that made this incredible journey.

Tomorrow I hope to reach the Columbia River. Nearly there.