It was another sweltering day and there was less water available along this part of the route. I would ride on the edge of the road just to catch a moment of cool by passing through the shadow of a tree. We suffered through the miles and miles of loose red dust of National Forest Road 22. Our back tires would spin out on the climbs. The deep parts would grab our tires and bog us down like we were stuck in quicksand. With the increased effort and the heat we consumed most of our water.
When we arrived at Sands Springs we found a fenced off puddle of murky, stagnant water with a cow pie at the water’s edge. We filtered some of it but the resulting green liquid was too unappealing for us city boys. We decided to do without.
Arriving at Highway 20 with barely a pint of water apiece, we had two choices. We could ride the 25 miles to our camp site and water or we could take a 14‐mile round‐trip detour to The Stage Stop east of us on the highway in Brothers. We chose the latter.
The food wasn’t anything to write home about but it felt good to eat and rest. When it came time to leave they allowed us to go back to the kitchen to fill our water bladders. Had I seen that kitchen earlier I would have skipped on the meal.
We cruised seven miles back to our route and had a pretty easy ride for quite some time on Crooked River Highway—a gravel road where you could see a car coming from miles away. Sometimes the drivers slowed down to reduce the dust clouds trailing behind them. Sometimes they didn’t and we'd be treated to another coat of nature’s sunblock. We reached State Highway 27, a paved road, but then we had to climb for about three miles.