Prairie Spirit Trail – May 29, 2011

Today we decided to ride from Ottawa to Garnett, spend the night there and return to Ottawa on Monday.  We knew it would be tough going with the winds forecasted to be 20-25 mph out of the south with gusts up to 35 mph.  We would be bucking a headwind the entire way to Garnett.  It was also forecast to be a toasty 88 degrees.  To make the ride easier we lightened our load and only took what was absolutely necessary.  Deb was able to shed both her panniers and I carried the majority of the gear.  While it was very windy, the trail had areas of trees that blocked some of it.  The condition of the trail was much better than it was at Iola.  The north end of it is the oldest section, and it was definitely packed harder, lessening the rolling resistance.  We saw a couple of joggers and at least a dozen other cyclists.  We ate lunch at the Quick Stop in Princeton, the only option available.  It was really quite impressive for a gas station, boasting a “beer cave” and “cigar humidor”. Of course they also sold bait…….what more could you ask for??  The trail took us by fields of crops, through prairie and also through forested areas.  The trees along the trail provided much needed shade as the temperature climbed.  We saw squirrels, rabbits, lizards, and even a couple of snakes today.  We were getting ready to take off again after resting and Deb said “There’s a big thing in the trail up ahead.”  I looked and saw that the “big thing” was a big black snake.  I think it was a bull snake and I took pictures of it as it climbed up a cedar tree.  It was nearly four feet long.  The other snake on the trail was a bright green grass snake.  It was a baby, only about a foot and a half long.  Again we saw a large variety of birds…..indigo bunting, gold finch, house finch, mocking birds, robins, turkey vultures and even an American Kestrel.  As we came into the north end of Garnett, the trail was completely out in the open and the wind was howling.  I looked at my computer and saw that I was only going 3 1/2 mph and I was struggling to do that.  Finally as we got further into town we were sheltered with trees again.  We stopped at the Garnett Depot and then found a Mexican restaurant in town to eat an early dinner.  We located our lodging for the night, which was about a mile off the trail.  Tomorrow’s forecast is for wind gusts up to 40 mph, so I’m thankful it will be mostly at our backs. 


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