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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

We've made it to Winthrop. Four days into our trip. Things are going fabulously so far. Of course we are glad to have an easy day today after a lot of climbing yesterday...

I'll backtrack a bit to tell you more about what we have done so far. After a lovely few days in Seattle (most of which we spent getting ready to leave, but also had a lot of fun with Mom, John, Carrie and Dustin) we left from the ferry terminal in Anacortes. It took us both a little while to get over the shock of how heavy our bikes are, but eventually we got to a nice little bike path and pedaled along idyllically. On our first day we made our way around a bay (I don't know what it was called) and then headed east away from the coast. We came to a huge valley with lots of famr land and long straight roads. All around we could see hills and mountains. Some totally covered in snow, some with just patches of white. It was very beautiful and different from anything we have in Maine, at least. Eventually our route was on the South Skagit highway, right along the Skagit River. It was a long winding road, pretty flat with the river on one side and a steep green hill- (or mountain-) side on the other with lots of huge trees and ferns, very lush. Even though cycling is much slower, we still covered enough miles to wind around hills and see the landscape and views change a lot. We stayed in Concrete that night (you have already seen our tent set up there). It was an odd little town, very down and out seeming. The main street was tiny and only a liquor store and hotel were open. Luckily we found a grovery store and learned our first lesson in the importance of planning (at least a little bit).

The next day, we set off along SR 20, passing through Rockport and Marblemount. Tiny towns, but even the Shell station had a full espresso bar. People in Washington love their coffee! After Marblemount we headed toward the North Cascades wilderness area. We were along a river and surrounded by bigger and bigger mountains. One beautiful sight was that of a waterfall way up a mountainside, sparkling in the sun. I saw bigfoots print's across one part of the road, too.

We passed through New Halem, a town that was built for employees of the seattle electric company, but there were lots of tourist there (in their cars, going three or fours days of our travel in mere hours). The road was busier here and we began the first of our climbs which was very challenging and steep for us. We went across bridges and through a dark and scary tunnel. Finally we got to go on a long downhill to Diablo Lake where we camped for the night. There was no water at the campground, which was good because it was free to camp but bad because we needed more water for drinking and cooking. So we approached some friendly looking campers and they ended up sharing two gallons of water with us. It was really helpful. I went for a really cold dip in the lake and we met Dave, a veteran cross country cyclist, who gave us some advice about going over Washington Pass and beyond.

We woke up early on Monday to get an early start on climbing. The first half (mileage wise) wasn't too bad. The second half was so difficult that we had to stop every half mile or so. But it was amazingly beautiful. We got up into the mountains which were covered in tall fir trees (sorry I don't know what kind). The views were beautiful -- so many snow covered peaks. It was a struggle to get up to Rainy pass, first, but then we got a break going downhill. After that we had three miles to the highest point, Washington Pass. Anyway, we finally made it! I think we were up around 5000 feet (Diablo Lake was around 1000 feet). The reward was about 20 miles downhill with amazing views of more mountainsides. Its hard to really describe everything. So we went down in about an hour, while going up took about 8!

The descent took us into Mazama, a tiny cute little spot in a climate which is more like hihg desert. Lots of pine trees and wildflowers. We were eager for showers so we decided to stay in one of the inns there. We had a nice night and took an easy ride to Winthrop this morning. This is a funny little town, it seems very touristy -- all the store fronts are in the style of those old western towns. I'm not sure if the buildings are old, or just styled that way.

Well, things are going really well. We're having a great time so far, we have a few more days of climbing ahead of us, but its a lot of fun to be out here and seeing so much and travelling together. I wish I could describe things more, it sort of blurs together even though we see so much. Its nice to travel on smaller roads through small towns, fields and forests. I hope everyone is doing well and we'll be in touch soon!!

2 comments:

Brita said...

Wow, sounds like you're working up some serious cycling cred in this first week. A 4,000-foot climb would probably take me eight days, not eight hours. Glad to hear you've encountered generosity from fellow travelers. I'm imagining your incredible views around every corner. That must help with the motivation factor...

We will miss seeing you guys tomorrow night, but you are finally where you're supposed to be, and I am so happy for you!

Anna Be said...

Oh yeah, Happy Ice Cream night! Have fun!

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