June 22, Mazama, WA

Scott: What a day. We tackled Washington Pass on the crest of the North Cascades. The climb was 5056 ft in 51 miles actually in 32 miles since the last 19 miles were steeply downhill (sure glad we didn’t have to climb that side), 5:23 on the bike and 7 hours total. We were tired but ecstatic that we’d gotten over the pass in pretty good shape.
The Washington Pass saga started yesterday when we stopped at the North Cascades visitor center in Newhalem. We had planned to ride 10 more miles to Colonial campground, (the last place to camp before the climb to the pass. The park ranger at the visitor center indicated that the climb was only about 3% and that there was a 90% chance of rain tomorrow. Hell, we thought, at only 3%, we can do the climb now, avoid the rain and see the majesty of Washington Pass cloud free since it was warm and sunny. So, we, unwisely, jettisoned all of our food except for 2/3 jar of peanut butter, 6 pieces of bread (Killer Joe’s mind you), 1/2 bag of raisins, a tin of kippered snacks and 4 power bars thinking, reduce weight and increase speed over the pass. Hah, by the time we reached the campground we had ground over 10 miles of 7-8% climbing. We didn’t have enough daylight to get over the pass. We stopped, camped and went to bed somewhat hungry since we needed to save food for tomorrow’s climb. It was a beautiful campground beside Diablo Lake amongst dense forest with a sprinkling of old growth trees, and we met a very interesting guy from New York who had been traveling around the US in his car for 3 months and had been in this campground for a week.
We started the climb the next day in cloudy but dry weather. Just about when I began to think that, maybe, the forecast was wrong, it started to rain. Cold, wet climbing – oh joy. The grade started at 6-7% but this soon eased to 5-6% then 2-4% for many miles. Near the top it punched up to 7-8% which was, by far, the toughest part. When we reached the top Karla was in tears and I cried with her as we hugged. Tears of joy and relief.
Tonight we’re in a hotel and tomorrow, the brutal reduction of gear to reduce weight!

9 thoughts on “June 22, Mazama, WA”

  1. Hello you two,
    Steve and I have crossed that pass many times–in a car. I'm so impressed!!!! What does it mean to ditch your food–do you leave it on the road, eat heartily, give it to the homeless. Will you just shop again when you have a chance? Just know how impressed I am with you two!!! Keep on pedaling. Love JacE

  2. Fantastic! Your first big climb is out of the way! It sounds like it was a great ride. Keep having fun.GL

  3. Nice job clearing the pass. I am duly impressed! Enjoy the hotel and be merciless reducing carrying weight. My brother is starting a six day (only) tandem ride with his wife. She is sick so he plans to do all the pedaling. Yeah, right.

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