17. Tonasket to Republic: A Sublime Ride & Warm Welcome - From the Olympic Peninsula to St. Mary - The First Bite of the Northern Tier - CycleBlaze

May 29, 2018

17. Tonasket to Republic: A Sublime Ride & Warm Welcome

Sometimes it all comes together, like today. After lounging in relative luxury at the Junction in Tonasket we fell, well, pedaled, into another state of being as we crossed Wauconda Pass. 41 miles. Not short. Not far. Just right for us. A sublime ride. Maybe all rides are sublime after a rest day.

The first five miles beginning at 0600 were up, up, up as we crossed and recrossed Bonaparte Creek seven times. Temps were nice and cool at around 50 degrees. Then the little valley broadened out and we went through a series of slightly rising sections mixed in with short uphill sections. Enough exertion to keep us warm. Not so much though. Just enough.

The road and shoulder were good except for one set of climbing s-curves about .2 miles long with guard rail and zero shoulder, or no guard rail and zero shoulder with an abrupt steep drop-off. But fortunately traffic was slight on the post Memorial Day Tuesday. There were only 94 vehicles + /- in the 27.2 miles to the summit. So this area did not pose any issues for us. On a busy traffic day, with impatient, anxious, or aggressive drivers, it could be disconcerting, as other bloggers have noted.

There is a gravel/stone quarry at the top of the pass which resulted in some truck traffic. The truck drivers were attentive and we waved greetings and thanks so they would know that we appreciated their recognition we were sharing the same road. It all worked because as the day wore on they seemed to expect to see us and gave even wider berth to us.

The last three miles before the top were a reminder we were still climbing a mountain. Not gut-busting, but definitely a time to spin through to the conclusion.

The trip down was 5-6% grades but without areas of concern.

Republic welcomed us with a great room at the Northern Inn and tasty BBQ sandwiches at Freckles. Republic Brewery was closed but Freckles was able to provide a sample of their good beer.🍺 Freckles also won our favor for their commitment to eco-friendliness. Decomposable take-out boxes and paper straws (available but not auto-inserted in every drink) were just two obvious decisions they made to do what they could to end plastic trash.

This is a really cool town, one of our faves so far. The locals were all super friendly, out walking on the street, chatting with each other and us, the visitors. The sheriff was in the grocery store for some munchies and Mountain Dew. One woman customer was telling him how nice his teenage son was. Maybe we shouldn’t read too much into a brief casual encounter, but it left a good impression. It’s a former mining town with murals painted on the buildings explaining the history. No gaudy facades here, the simple wooden structures have retained the original western timber designs. We definitely recommend the Northern Inn. Check out our photo of the sign they left on the mirror for guests. That sums up the ethos of the whole town.

Speaking of trash, we are amazed at the zillions of plastic and glass bottles and aluminum cans people have thrown out along the way. We have seen it everywhere beginning in Bainbridge Island. It doesn’t matter where we have ridden. Every 🇺🇸 mile has it. Not so for Victoria to Sidney, BC 🇨🇦 👏

The least trash is where some organization or individual has adopted a section of the highway but the trash is everywhere. The beer cans and bottles were likely tossed to get rid of open container evidence in the vehicle. But this does not explain the soft drink and water bottles. In any case, the 30 cents a pound or so offered by recycle ♻️ centers does not seem a sufficiently large inducement for folks to round up the cans, and in any case would not address the glass and plastic bottle issue. Is it time for a significant deposit on containers like in Europe? Say 25 cents? But getting off of the soap box.

Today we saw 2 x 🐈, 3x 🦆, many x 🐂 and 🐎.

A nice ride to the top.
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The weather pattern changed as we got closer to Wauconda Pass. This area benefits from more rainfall, was more humid, you see more cedars and aspens that only thrive with more precip. Scott’s bike looks at home by this meadow.
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Republic City Hall.
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Of all the places we’ve stayed in our lifetimes, this little sign was a first. It does make the traveler feel welcome.
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Today's ride: 41 miles (66 km)
Total: 503 miles (810 km)

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