Sunday, August 31, 2014
Washington Cascades, Day 13, Washington Pass
Read all the posts about this trip in backwards order (or better yet, start at the bottom and work up) here.
The original pre Washington-is-on-fire plan was to ride over Washington Pass from the South. Instead we were going to tackle it from the North as a simple out and back. Our leaders looked us over and figured we were too wimpy to ride from Newhalem to the summit and back, so they elected to give us a head start by driving us part way, thereby making is it a fifty-mile ride. We still got 4600 feet of climbing, so it wasn't a totally slacker kind of day.
Having all our bikes on top of the van looks pretty cool. I kept wondering how many dollars were up there catching the wind, and just how low the trees and anything else we went under were. But we didn't lose anything.
Before we got to where we'd start our ride, we stopped at the overview for Diablo Lake. It was... well, just look at the photos.
We all went crazy making snapshots.
Heather wanted to make a group photo, because even though we are super cool cyclists on a multi-state adventure, we're really just tourists like everyone else.
When I was photographing for the newspaper we referred to this as "Line 'em up, shoot 'em down."
When we finished our "Ohhh" and "Ahhh" over the view, and wrapped up our bit of photographic nonsense, we headed just a short ways up the road and started our ride.
It was about 25 miles of six-percent, which isn't a horrible climb, but is relentless. There's a spot at Rainy Pass with a short steep downhill. It was hard to truly enjoy, knowing that we were giving up hard-earned elevation that we would have to reclaim almost immediately.
As always, there were cyclists out there with panniers just to let us know we weren't that tough. We also saw this man on his recumbent trike, slowly grinding uphill. When we went past he asked "How much farther?" I answered 20 miles. I don't know if that was heartening or depressing for him, but we did see him just short of the summit when we were returning later.
The climb really is beautiful. Tricia and I have been down the North side twice before. It was fun to see it at 5mph instead of the twenty-plus we had coming down.
Even though I like quoting that "The journey is the reward," really, the summit is the reward (or is it the swell downhill?) Getting to the top feels great and the views are unreal.
We all loitered around the overlook, marveling at how rugged the mountains here are.
And making a few "photos or it didn't happen" snapshots.
As we pushed our bikes back toward the road, Tricia's rear tire exploded. She'd managed to pick up another huge cut in a nearly-new tire. We used another Park Tools tire boot (if you don't have some in your seat bag you're making a big mistake. Read about our experiences with them here) and carefully rolled the 25 downhill miles to the van.
We saw some bigfoot tracks on the road, and briefly stopped to photograph them.
Having survived the climb, the torn tire, and a possible bigfoot encounter, we all piled into the van and started toward Sedro-Woolley. But before we got there Heather pulled over at Cascadia Farms, and treated us all to fresh berry ice cream and shakes. And thus ends another tough day of roughing it on the road.