“But now that you’re in the mountains be ready to suffer.” -Gao Xingjian, Soul Mountain
pushing that rock
This the third time I’ve crossed Rainy and Washington passes and whole they’ve all been tough the heat on this day added to the overall challenge. I got up early and left early (for me) and hit the hill that climbs up from the Colonial Creek valley while it was still in the shade. This initial climb is one of the steeper grades on the crossing and after the Diablo Lake overlook it actually flattens out and is gently up and down for a number of miles. But as you leave the Ross Lake Recreation Area the steady climbing begins.
The next 22 miles or so are almost all just steady climbing with the occasional flatter bit and of course the mile descent after Rainy Pass (which of course you have to make up and then some to cross Washington Pass). I’d stop every so often to rest, or to eat some food or to take a picture. But several strange and notable events occurred in this crossing:
– a couple parked at a scenic overlook sitting on foldable camp chairs singing gospel hymns.
– a van load of people who slowed down, rolled down their windows and cheered me on as if I was on a mountain stage on the Tour de France.
– three roadies at the summit of Washington Pass who had ridden from Colonial Creek Campground to Mazama and were riding back. Thus crossing the pass on the both sides.
– a van parked at another scenic overlook with a man standing outside the drivers door, which was open and just laying into the passenger within with a heavily explicative filled harangue.
The heat was definitely a factor and as I reached Rainy Pass clouds rolled in which at least blocked the merciless sun. But the humidity, already high, skyrocketed. I was constantly wanting to just drain my water bottles but I restrained myself and still had half a bottle left when I reached the summit.
Then the descent began. It got hotter and hotter as I went down. It had been in the mid eighties on the west side of the mountains and it was now the upper nineties on the Eastside. I was happy to reach Mazama and the country stores beer garden. Even happier to reach the Bicycle Barn in between Mazama and Winthrop where I stayed the night. A cyclist only campground I shared it’s well equipped faculties that night with Ron, a touron who’d left from Camano Island and was riding the Northern Tier route on his way to a family reunion in Spokane. We talked touring of course as it tends to go when touring cyclists meet and I have to say I hope that I too am still touring at 73!
the unrelenting blue eye of the sky
pins me to the hot winding road
A few more photos from this day can be viewed over on Flickr.