Rockport, WA to Washington Pass - Last Century Cross USA on a Tandem - CycleBlaze

June 19, 1996

Rockport, WA to Washington Pass

Living off of stored fat cells

Today was certainly a contrast to yesterday. Yesterday was an easy ride, perfect weather, lovely campsite. Today had it's own appeal, but so different. It was probably the most challenging climb we have ever done, approximately 40 miles up to Washington Pass. We went from hot (I wore a crop top) to snow banks several feet high. The day ended in a wilderness camp site and we were glad to have that. We took way too long in the morning to get stated, not yet efficient at packing, dealing with laundry, leisurely breakfast. Our destination was 86 miles away, with no services along the way. I bought some snacks and we started out, disregarding several local's(and other cyclists) surprise at what we were attempting. I think from now on I'll believe the locals; it's just that we always assume they're not looking at things from a cyclist's point of view. The climb began along the lakes and reservoirs created by the Diablo and Ross Dams. The water is the most beautiful emerald green, just like pictures I've see of Jamaica.

Skagit River
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Only the power lines spoiled the views. We continued to climb for hours, leaving most signs of civilization behind. It became obvious that we were not going to reach our destination of Mazama on the other side of Washington Pass, and also that we weren't going to have enough food (I hope to never see another Granola Bar). We were OK on water because a highway crew let us fill our bottles from their supply. 

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Dave wanted to stop and camp far down on the western side of the pass and renew our efforts in the morning. But I held a whip over him (that's his version) and made us keep going. I knew that without food I'd have an extremely difficult time doing the climb in the morning. However, if we could at least get over the pass, then the next day would be downhill...that I could handle without nourishment. (The next day, Dave told me he was very uncertain about whether or not we could get over the pass by nightfall, and if we didn't, there would be no way to keep warm at that altitude. For once he was worried and I wasn't.

Rainy Pass, on the way up to Washington Pass.
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So, we continued to walk/ride and finally reached Washington Pass at about 8:30 p.m. By that time the sun was setting and it was freezing. Dave said I wouldn't want to know the temperature. Snow was piled several feet high in places.

Washington Pass (ele 5,477 ft.) reached at 8:30 pm.
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As difficult as the climb up had been, the three miles we descended (approximately 2,000 feet drop in elevation) were really hard on Dave-----freezing cold and windy.

Starting down the eastern side of Washington Pass at 8:30 pm.
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We stopped at a forest service campsite (nothing but pit toilets) where we quickly made camp, hung our remaining muffin in a tree for protection from bears, and collapsed. I changed my bike pants, but otherwise just layered on more clothes and huddled in my sleeping bag, even tying up the "mummy hood". Actually, it wasn't too bad inside the tent. The day's scenery and views were spectacular and well worth the effort. The Cascade Mountains are very aptly named for the many waterfalls. These northern Cascades remind us very much of our ride to Lake Kootenay in British Columbia; I assume it is all the same basic range of mountains. I'm proud of how I handled today's experience; I viewed it as an adventure and at no time was I upset or worried (as soon as I knew Dave was following my plan). We had water and I had Dave, my trusty Boy Scout so I knew we could handle anything. With only two muffins to tide us over night for dinner and breakfast, we thought only of each other, no snarling and grabbing at the food. Dave let me have most of one for dinner, while Dave said his body was "feasting on fat cells". (I don't know if I need a new pen or if it's just to cold for this one. I'm sure when we're climbing the Appalachians in August we'll remember this cold weather with longing.)

Today's ride: 73 miles (117 km)
Total: 144 miles (232 km)

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