(The internet connection on board the boat is not strong….thus I have abandoned efforts to upload photos until we are back on terra firma.)
Overnight the boat moved from Astoria to Skamokawa and Vista Point Landing, where we were picked up on Wednesday morning by buses. They drove us to the Johnston Ridge Observatory (U.S. National Park Visitor Center) where we heard a most informative presentative by a geologist on the events prior to the eruption of Mount St. Helens. Also saw a film on the eruption and the resulting damages.
The buses then took us 15 miles downhill where we retrieved our tandems and began the downhill ride back toward the boat. The first 7 miles were at least a 6% grade and I held on for dear life. Don was able to maintain control and keep us upright despite winds and speed, luckily few cars. Our maximum speed was 39.69 mph, quite fast for us. Once we hit an area that required us to pedal we felt as though we were dragging heavy weights. It took us several miles before we could get into a smooth cadence.
The downhill continued, with intermittent uphills, into Castle Rock, and we decided against cycling another 25+ miles down to the river and opted to put our tandem on the shuttle truck and ride the bus back to the boat, docked at Kalama.
Our boarding of the boat was delayed by another paddlewheeler using the desired “dock” area – their passengers were less-active, slow moving senior citizens.
We had made reservations for dinner at the River Grill and enjoyed a delightful meal with Kris and Larry from Norco, CA. After enjoying a delightful show in The Show Lounge, Don and I sat on deck and watched the boat cruise past Vancouver and the Willamette River to our overnight dock at Troutdale.
37.86 miles, 4590 ft. of descent!