So I know there’s been a lack of blog posts lately. It took me forever to finish Pt. 2 to my last post but I have a really good excuse. We’re on the west coast! We’ve been concentrating on not concentrating at all for the past few days and the blog has sort of slipped to the back of list. Sorry. Thanks for your patience; here’s what you’ve missed lately:
After Sherman’s Pass, going up to Wauconda was about the equivalent to a leisurely glide over the Williamsburg Bridge. We were so worried about crossing another pass right after nearly killing ourselves the day before that we barely recognized the top when we got there. I guess we are in much better shape than we thought. The descent down the other side was about as inconsequential as the ride up. We did stop in the town (if you can call it that) of Wauconda for lunch and it just so happens to have a very interesting story to it. Apparently, this town had gotten so small and undesireable that it was actually put up for auction on E-bay! Crazy. A really nice couple ended up buying it for about $300, 000 and are busy whipping it back into shape. Read their story here. Maddie stopped to chat with us about stocking some small bike supplies and food stuff in their grovery. She also recommended a nice hotel for us when we finally reach Anacortes, WA, or last stop on the Adventure Cycling Northern Tier.
After lunch, we coasted down the rest of the hill and set our sights on Omak for the night. The scenery in the valley ride along the way was absolutely gorgeous. We were now completely surrounded by mountains everywhere. Much to our surprise, the landscape had also become a desert microclimate in the middle of Wahsington State. It was quite surreal. We couldn’t believe we had had now cycled through snow and desert climates. This trip was just full of surprises. Anyhow, we reached the little town of Riverside which was just before Omak and decide on calling it quits for the day. We stayed in Maggie’s RV Park which turned out to be absolutely beautiful. We enjoyed a small campfire under the stars while we ate a makeshift shepard’s pie and wondered at our good fortune again.
Loup Loup Pass was our next challenge the following day and, we quickly discovered, was one of the hardest climbs of the trip. Another midday start meant the desert climate was already cooking as we started our ascent. Loup Loup is about the same height as Wauconda but you start at a much lower altitude and the grade is significantly steeper. We got all comfortable at first as we passed orchards and desert valleys but we soon filled our noses with the smell of wet wool as we sweated our way up a good mile of 8% graded road. Marissa was soon giving me a look of utter dread and weariness as we wondered what else this SOB had in store for us. Thankfully, we had packed a fair number of energy bars and fresh fruit and we took our time climbing and eating our way to the top. It was tough but not impossible. The descent was a real treat as we barreled down all those steep grades and on our way into Twisp.
Soon enough, we were pulling out our lights and checking the map to guess where we might stay when we finally reached the town of Winthrop. Our route took us right past a KOA Kamp so I gave them a ring thinking we were all set for the night. Instead, I was informed that tent sites were $27/night! WTF? The whole point of camping is to save money. Feeling betrayed, we started checking the list of motels in town thinking that if it was going to cost a bit of money, we might as well sleep in a bed. While we were figuring out our plan of attack, we rolled into the nearest grocery to figure out dinner. While we were being rung up, Marissa inquire with the cashier if she knew of any place to pitch a tent nearby. Before long, we had five different suggestions from the other customers nearby. Great! The best was yet to come though. As we packed up our groceries, a friendly guy name Rob stopped us and asked if we had found a decent spot. While he tried to improve the directions we had been given to local park, he suddenly stopped, thought for half a second, and then asked if we’d rather just come back to his house? Of course! And so we ended up camping in Rob’s small orchard in his front yard after enjoying the benefits of a full kitchen and bath for the night. Thanks Rob! Hope your trip to Hawaii was great.
The next day was to be our last big climb, Washington Pass followed quickly by Rainy Pass. Taking Rob’s suggestion, we stopped back for coffee as we passed back through Winthrop. Of course, it was so good we ended up getting a second breakfast on top of the eggs, cheese, strawberries, and oatmeal I made that morning. I’m sure you can guess by now that our start wasn’t all that early yet again. I think we made it about halfway across the 14 miles to the next town before the pass when we decided we would rather hike for the rest of the day than attempt another climb. This was one of our better decisions of the trip as we enjoyed the pine forests and mountain streams of the Cascades. We retired for the night at our first B&B of the trip in Mazama, the North Cascades Basecamp and B&B. We really enjoyed talking with Steve and Kim about our travels and how they’ve enjoyed the few months since they started running the B&B. As part of the agreement to staying in such a posh set-up, we were going to attempt our last chance to put in a century ride over the pass. Upon hearing this, Steve made us an amazing breakfast of palenta, eggs, sausage, bagels, and coffee, coffee, coffee. It was absolutely wonderful stay and I’d like to personally recommend it to anyone traveling that way.
We did our best attempt at an early start for our big day which ended up being about 9:30. Impressive, I know. The map pointed out that there would be no services for the next 76 miles so we packed sandwiches and plenty of water for the ride. The weather was great and we made fairly short work of the first bit of the trip. Feeling so good about our early start and finishing our last climb, we took plenty of breaks to enjoy the beautiful scenery and keep our energy up. The last half of the climb was no picnic but we made it with smiles plastered across our faces and just a little bit of whooping. After some quick pictures, we shot down the other side and then back up to Rainy Pass for lunch. We both figured the descent would be steep and quick followed by a lot of general downhill riding for the rest of the day. Wrong. The descent was definitely steep at times and it went on forever but it also had it’s fair share of climbs too. My neck muscles were soon sore after holding the unfamiliar tuck position for 8 miles of descents at a time. It was both absolutely amazing and incredibly exhausting. I wish I could have taken more pictures but it’s very hard to stop an 80lb bike going 35mph, especially when my brakes were starting to wear thin. So, I had to settle for some of the rest stop overlooks.
It took us a heck of a lot longer to get off that mountain and through the valley than we thought. We pulled in to a town called Marblemount just as the last of the light of fading in the sky. We ate an overpriced dinner at the first spot we came across for fear that everything else in the town would be closed. Of course the were not as we later discovered by oh well. Camped in an over priced RV spot too but we wanted showers and this was our best option.
I’ll stop here since this post has gotten ridiculously long. Sorry. I’ll try to fill in the rest soon. Oh, and we’re in Vancouver now!