Mesa to Pitt 2015

Mesa to Pitt 2015

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Birch Tree, MO to Poplar Bluff, MO April 21

April 21.....69.42 miles in 5:45..... We slept last night, listening to something that we hadn't heard in a long, long, time. A downpour that lasted for more than a minute. Things were pretty wet when I got rolling, and from the looks of the clouds and the weather forecast, I figured I was going to get wet. Well,that didn't happen. What I got was hot and sweaty, as the clouds broke up and the sun came out. It didn't take long for me to remember what soupy humidity felt like, even though it's been since Oct, 2012 since I have felt it.
US 60 was mildly rolling, just like previously, for about 20 miles. Then things got more serious. The terrain became so hilly and mountain like, that the four lane road was split in several places, and you couldn't even see the two lanes going the opposite direction, because it was so far away, or there were trees between the opposing lanes. Sometimes, two lanes were way up there, and the other two were way over there. It reminded of me of riding on I-79 in central West Virginia. The hills were no longer rollers, but they were 200-300 ft climbs and descents. The signs for all the Ozark Scenic Rivers were along the road, but they were all 15-25 miles either north or south of  the US 60 corridor, so we saw none of the great camping, fishing, tubing, and rafting areas that are around here. I descended to about 500 ft, close to the town of Van Buren, and saw the Current River, one of the three rivers that are in this area. I rode on US 60 business through Van Buren, and Pam was waiting for me there, about my halfway mark, in case the weather was going to turn bad. We had a plan to cut things short if we needed to, but there was no rain in the area. 
I continued for another 35 miles or so, through forested areas, with nothing else to look at besides trees and hills. The elevation changes became less dramatic, and it ended up climbing over 2600 ft, but descended even more, as the average mph picked up on the second half of the ride. There weren't many people in the area I rode today, just over 6000 in Carter County, where I spent most of the day, and there wasn't any phone service either. Neither Pam nor I could get radar to follow the rain threat. Overall, a pretty desolate area, that probably hops a lot more in the summer. The road was fantastic for the entire trip, and the increased truck traffic was hardly noticeable. It was good to get in a full, dry day, after the forecasts said 80% chance of rain. 
After Pam was all set up in our campground in Poplar Bluffs, we had two episodes of serious downpour. More rain than we have seen in six months, since we were in the Pacific Northwest.

US 60 "rolling" along

Things got a little crazy in the mountains

Current River - the only Ozark scenic riverway that we've seen

Lumber is big business here

Mark Twain National Forest is spread out everywhere - north and south

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