Heading East…Cascades!

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On top of Washington Pass–the highest we’ve climbed yet!!

After a day island hopping north of Seattle, we stood on the edge of a sheltered bay east of Anacortes, and said goodbye to the Pacific.  We were quite sad to leave the ocean, with cool winds, so much animal life, and constant, stunning views.  In general, transitions tend to shake us- we get fatootzed when we enter a new state and the campgrounds look different.  After our first rise, with the ocean lost from view and a flat, alluvial plain spreading for miles to a mountainous horizon, we suddenly realized just how far, far away Boston is.  Temperatures were higher, and rolling through farm fields we felt we could have been in Montana already.  A strong, constant tailwind kept us in good spirits, however, and we struck forth, eager to start heading home, while the wall of hills loomed higher and higher.

IMG_20130617_093425_350Concrete, WA.  A literal town…

Only two days from the coast, we were surrounded by peaks 5,000 feet high, climbing past hydro-electric dams and enjoying the shade of steep mountain valleys.  We spent a wonderful afternoon cooking dinner at 4:30 pm (standard for us at this point) on a dock in Diablo Lake, miles into the Cascades.  June in the Cascades should be a rainy, drizzly month, but we once again lucked out on weather, and enjoyed partly cloudy, partly sunny weather the next day as we slowly climbed our way into the mountains.  On the western side of the coastal range, the vegetation is lush and thick, with waterfalls, creeks, and rivers everywhere you look.  Tree line extended to well over 5,000 feet, and as we rolled through Washington Pass at 5,477 feet, we were still surrounded by firs, spruce and pine.  The climb was LONG.  LONG LONG.  But we took breaks every half hour, mostly for our butts and to munch on snacks, and with an early morning start found ourselves on top of our first real mountain pass by 1 pm.

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Our first camp site in the Cascades–Diablo Lake.

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Dinner on the dock, Diablo Lake.

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Okay, we really liked Diablo Lake. One last look as we began our ascent the next morning…

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Our view as we climbed. Not bad!!

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Lunch break #2.

This is the highest Christine and I have ever biked, and we are happy to say it wasn’t as soul-crushing as we feared- pretty enjoyable, in fact, considering the scenery we had to look at as we wobbled up hill.

Through the Cascades we will do a pass a day: Rainy Pass and Washington Pass on June 18:

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Rainy Pass! And it’s not raining!

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Washington Pass–still not raining!

Then Loup Loup Pass on June 19:

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Loup Loup Pass. Raining.

Then a rest day, followed by Waucanda Pass on June 21, and finally Sherman Pass on June 22.  That’s the plan, anyway!

We’re writing from Tonasket, WA on our in-between-rest-day.  We’re camped out at Shannon’s Ice Cream Parlor–pretty cute!  Now on the arid eastern side of the mountains, we are of course getting rained on for a good two days now.  Ironic.  We spent a fine afternoon at Bicycle Barn Camping near Winthrop, a beautiful home where Jim and Diane welcome bicycle travelers with solar heated showers, excellent camping, and excellent conversation.  This side of the mountains is much more open; stands of pine and fir are more sparse, patched with old burn sites, and the undergrowth is a mix of grass and sagebrush, quite open and entirely different from all of the West Coast.  We are inland, indeed.

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Sage brush dotting the landscape.

After the mountains we will be in the high plains, around 3,000 feet, as we head for Glacier.  It should be relatively flat (fingers crossed!) and favorable winds (knock on wood!) as we move towards the rockies and the Canadian border.

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6 thoughts on “Heading East…Cascades!

  1. I keep reading your blogs, and am in awe of what you are doing. What an amazing adventure. Safe travels, and I look forward to reading more….oxox

  2. I am following your journey and so very much enjoy your descriptions and photographs. Epic! Treasure these days.

  3. Lunch Break #2 looks like a picture from the show Twin Peaks, circa 1992. Ulli and I use to watch. Do you recall which mountains they are? It all looks fablioius.

    • I think I think I think that is Pierce Mountain and Sourdough Mountain, above Ross Lake and Diablo Lake! That kind of scenery made our climb quite easy!

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