Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Wow, the mountains overcame us

Monday, June 16. Marblemount to Colonial Creek campground. 26 Miles
Tuesday June 17, Colonial Creek campground to somewhere just north of Easy Pass. 20 miles.
Wednesday June 18, Near Easy Pass to Swamp Creek, milepost 155, 6
149 total miles

Monday: Our ride from Marblemount started in a drizzly rain but eventually cleared up to a cool but mostly dry day. The route had a mostly gentle grade until we got to Newhalem, and then it started to climb. We went through a couple of tunnels, one of which was long enough to be dark. This had a button to push to activate some flashing lights to warn cars that a bike was in there. We were walking and pushing the bike and I stayed to the side so our flashing lights and reflective triangles could be seen. We were doing quite a bit of climbing through a beautiful gorge and the Skagit river dammed into a lake (Gorge Lake) and then Diablo lake, another Skagit river resevoir. I had plenty of time to notice wildflowers, goatsbeard and lupine were everywhere. Then we descended steeply to the valley of Diablo lake where our campsite was.
This is a pretty campground, although it is heavily forested with huge hemlocks, Douglas fir and cedars which made it chilly as the sun was behind clouds and the lake is glacial meltwater. We had bought freeze dried meals in Sedro Woolley,  so we made dinner and then turned in early after putting our food sack and toiletries in the bear box.

Tuesday: We way overestimated our abilities in the mountains. No injuries but we don't seem to have enough horsepower to climb these passes. We spent Monday, Tuesday, and half of today trying to summit Rainy Pass. We got within about 3 miles of the top of Rainy Pass on Wednesday. We were about 7 miles from Washington Pass. That may not sound like a lot but we climbed from our campsite at 1000 feet on Tuesday morning to about 4000 feet (not counting ups and downs) and ran out of leg power and lung power.
We then took stock and realized that at the 6 miles an hour we were averaging, (a lot of that walking, pushing the bike) we weren't going to be through by nightfall and that was if our bodies didn't quit.
We took stock of our food; 4 packets of oatmeal, 3/4 jar of peanut butter and 4 granola bars. We were also out of water but we had brought a tiny little water filter which we used to fill up our bottles. The water was everywhere, rivulets dripping down from rock walls to cascades of water rushing down the hillsides. It probably could have been ok since it was probably snow meltwater, but we don't want to risk Giardia.
At about 3:30 we decided to camp and conserve our strength, rest and start back at it in the morning. It was a challenge to find a level patch of ground to pitch our tent! We found a tiny partial clearing under a big western hemlock (but definitely not the tallest one there). We had a meager supper of one packet of oatmeal with some peanut butter and coffee creamer. It was hot which felt good since the air cools fast when the sun starts going behind the mountains.

Wednesday: Today we broke camp, filtered more water and then started again after a breakfast of one oatmeal pack each with some trail mix and peanut butter. We decided the granola bars and peanut butter would be the snacks/lunch/pick-me-up for the day.
We took our time, the road didn't start out too horribly steep, but the altitude was a definite drain on our lung power. And our sleep was probably not 100% restful since we kept sliding downhill!
We got to milemarker 155 (Rainy Pass is at milemarker 158) AND in one of our rests/discouragement breaks, a fellow biker with a pickup stopped to ask if we needed help! We had already decided the day before that if anyone offered, we would accept a ride gladly. Peter took us to the top of Rainy and Washington Passes and down the other side to the nice little town of Twisp, WA. The views are spectacular!
He and his wife own a Bed and Breakfast, the Methow Valley Inn, which we decided to stay at and here we are being spoiled by wonderful accommodations and beautiful gardens.
We are going to ride around the next pass, Loup Loup, and in towns on the other side we're gonna look for another ride or perhaps rent a U Haul truck one way to drive over the next two passes after that, Wauconda and Sherman passes. At this point we think we had no realistic idea of the scope and magnitude of these mountain passes for the lack of conditioning we have and we can't realistically negotiate them in any reasonable amount of time. So we're gonna cheat a little to reach our end goal. I'm getting tired so I will post a few pictures but check our blog later for more.


  1. Amazing! I'm so glad that you are trying to take it easy and thank goodness for the ride and a nice B&B! You could use it! Hope you slept well!
    Good luck and God spend tomorrow, or today!

  2. Beautiful places! Hey... it's a lot like a hike with an awkward backpack that way. Stay safe and enjoy the trip!

  3. Oh my, I'm glad I'm going to appreciate my trip this next week to Cape Breton, in the comfort of my little Teardrop camper. Keep on biking, Friends. Past the aching legs and into the beauty of God's creation!