Monday, August 11, 2014

Washington Cascades bike tour, Day 4 and 5, Randle to Paradise and Mt. Rainer

Tricia on Rainer Washington Cascades_0189
Read all the posts about this trip in backwards order (or better yet, start at the bottom and work up) here.

Executive summary: Forty nine miles, 5,446 feet of climbing, temperatures that peaked at 106 on the road, waterfalls, snow, cliffs, and a cool toilet seat. Oh, and marmots.

We left Randle knowing we had a big day in front of us. But it was a beautiful morning with mist hanging above the ground, it wasn't too cold, and we were on vacation, so all was right with the world.

Start of Rainer ride Washington Cascades_0237

Seat at coffee shop after randleKnowing that our climb would get serious soon enough, and more importantly realizing that we'd have no services for a long, long time, we stopped in Packwood for a shot of espresso. We've noticed in our travels that in small communities there is often a coffee shop that acts as a magnet for the cool and creative. This one was no exception. Even the rest room was a lot more fun the the average commode. And how could we not love a place where our barista was very impressed that we'd ridden a whole 15 miles to get there?

In not too much time, we left the main highway and started into the park along a quiet tree-lined road.  Like the tonal quality in the park entrance photo? It turns out that stuffing a camera in a jersey pocket is a good way to accidentally rotate the control dial to the retro-hip, faux-art setting.

Rainer entry Washington Cascades_0246

We were concerned about water, having been told there was none between Packwood and our ride finish. The toll-taker at the pay gate entrance agreed we wouldn't see any. Only later did we find out there was a water fountain 100 yards past her that she didn't tell us about. Fortunately there was also a surprise water fountain about half way up, at Box Canyon. What with the heat, every ounce made a difference. Tricia and I were both grateful when a motorist where we had stopped for a photo shared a bottle of cold water with us. Heather said she'd kept cool by stopping and sitting in the small, cool waterfalls that popped up regularly along the road.

Water falll at start of climb Rainer Washington Cascades_0256

As we climbed and the day got hotter, the views became increasingly dramatic. I like to think I'm a pretty adequate photographer, and some of my photos are pretty darn swell. But as I go over them they just can't convey the grandness of the views we witnessed. I'm reasonably sure the word "majestic" was made up for this area.

Rainer cliff wall tricia Washington Cascades_0282

Tricia rides Rainer Washington Cascades_0283
Of course, it would be even  better if, way up high, there were a lake. Wait, there it is.
Mt. Rainer lean Washington Cascades_0293
We did eventually reach our goal, appropriately named Paradise, and got our first glimpse of where we'd be staying. We'd have been happy with "not a tent again" but this was even better. Our room window is the second from the bottom on the left. When we woke the next morning we could see deer looking for breakfast.
Our lodge Washington Cascades_0170
Indoors, with our own room, and bed, and space for the bikes. Ahhhhh.
Our room Rainer Washington Cascades 2014 iphone_0631
We all got to eat in the restaurant, like grownups. Our friends Bob and Catherine had to drop out of the ride earlier in the week, but as they live within driving distance, they came up to have dinner with the group. As if seeing them wasn't treat enough, Bob brought another bag of yummy coffee for us. Dinner and drugs, what could be better.
Rainer Dinner Washington Cascades 2014 iphone_0651

The day after was a layover day. Some of our group went down the mountain for a hike. I was exhausted. My big plan for the day was to power lounge in and around the beautiful lodge, which I did, napping and reading "Into Thick Air," a bicycle touring book. Tricia, not so wimpy, was ready to hike and even dragged me out for a bit. I say "hike" but really I mean short stroll on easy to navigate nearby paths. She'd have actually hiked. I made photos and marveled.

That tiny person in the photo is Tricia.
Tricia bridge hike rainer Washington Cascades_0198

Rainer flower 1 Washington Cascades_0142

Tricia Washington Cascades_0224

I'm doing it again. Flower photos. I have no excuse beyond the fact I was in a land of amazement.
Rainer flower 2 Washington Cascades_0158

Flowers 4 Washington Cascades_0229

Flowers Rainer again Washington Cascades_0221

I promised marmots, didn't I? I'd never seen one, but there they were scampering around just like they were regular ol' animals and not the magical beasts they are.
Marmont Washington Cascades_0163

I shot a panorama with my iPhone. The problem with this blog is that it makes it look like a tiny wide photo. Try clicking it and see if it looks any better bigger.

Rainer pano Washington Cascades 2014 iphone_0641


  1. Curtis and Tricia,
    I can't tell you how much I'm vicariously enjoying your trip! I have done this ride but always enjoy hearing others' experiences. Your weather is great weather and the photos are fabulous! (Thanks for all those flower pics Curtis!! :)) Stay safe and have a great time!!

    Alison (the pink pannier one....)

    1. Thanks! I feel important. Someone that I don't force to is rreading my blog. Amazing. And, did you know you are in it?


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