Mesa to Pitt 2015

Mesa to Pitt 2015
Mesa to OBX

Friday, September 6, 2013

Tumwater Campground(Leavenworth, Washington to Monroe, Washington Aug 29

76.3 miles in 6:18.  August 29. I woke up to threatening skies and a worse forecast. The Cascade Mountain range and everything west of it is world famous for its dismal rain and cloudy days. I heard once that the Seattle area and the Pittsburgh area have the least sunny days in the country, but Seattle  wins on sunless days by a long shot. I guess it is only right that I got initiated to the northwest coast in the finest Seattle fashion. The Seattle area didn't have its normal, typical drizzle though. It had flooding rains that were much more than some of the areas could handle. I don't think I got the worst of it, but I got pretty wet as I ascended from the campground at 1700 ft to the summit of Stevens Pass at 4061 ft. It took me over three hours to do the first 26 miles of today's ride, because it was all uphill. The next 70 miles were done in almost the same time as the first 26 because they were pretty much all downhill, almost to sea level, as a matter of fact.
 The first 26 miles of the trip followed the Wanatchee River upstream, for a good portion of the climb. I now know why the mountain range here is called the Cascades, because the water in the rivers and streams pretty much are always cascading quickly downhill over rapids, and drops that aren't quite waterfalls, but cascades. It's all very beautiful, and the mountains are green and plush with cedars, ponderosa pines, and all sorts of greenery. I think I saw chinook salmon in a pool in one section of the river. They were two feet long, and there was easily 100 of them. I wasn't sure what they were, but later in the ride, I went past a chinook hatchery, and saw the same fish in a stream there. 
The rain started to fall pretty early in the ride, so I pulled out my pancho, and rode in a steady rain, if not a downpour, for a couple of hours. Pam and I had agreed to meet at the top of Stevens Pass, but she pulled over early because it was raining so hard. I decided to keep on going up the hill, so she went on ahead to the top of the pass. I actually enjoy exercising in the rain, as I loved running in a warm rain my whole life. The steady downpour kept my mind off the climb, and my legs took it pretty well after getting eleven hours sleep last night. The headwinds on the high plains really beat me up, and I didn't have a good ride yesterday, but the climb was enjoyable, if you're into 2300 ft, 26 mile long hills. I was riding in the clouds as I got near the top, as clouds and fog were everywhere, and would come and go very rapidly, in an ever changing pattern. When I pulled over at the top of the pass to get something to eat in the RV, it started to slow down as far as rain, even though it never really quit for too long. It was getting cold up there, and on one mountain I saw snow. I was only at 2700 ft at the time, and its the end of August, so that must have been one hellova  snowpack. I changed into dry clothes, added some layers, ate some soup, and got ready to do the downslope, which I knew didn't stop until it hit sea level. If I was going west to east, I would have had a 4000 ft climb, but I got off easy on this one.
On the ride down, the roads were still soaked, it was drizzling, and the spray from vehicles made me very cold. My fingertips were frigid and my arms were shivering as I descended a real steep grade for seven miles. When I bought my bike, I got special brakes that work in the rain, for occasions just like this. Pad brakes on many of the older or cheaper bikes don't work when they are wet. Today, the brakes kept me alive! At one point on the steep descent, my side of the road was very narrow because of some rock slides that were under repair, and it was in a twisty turney area with no shoulder because of the jersey barriers lining the lanes. On the descent, I followed the Skyhomish River, another beautiful, boulder filled stream that cascaded down he mountain, very quickly. There were some great waterfalls, including Deception Falls, of which I stopped and took pictures, even though it was raining. When the steep drop was over, I continued to follow the Skyhomish on its way to the sea, but small towns started popping up, and the increasing amount of civilization told me I was getting closer and closer to Seattle. The shoulders on US 2, which I was still following, were great on the ascent and descent of the pass, but they began to get narrower as I got closer to Seattle. Traffic was pretty heavy all day, and it really made me focus on the road more than I wanted, and not on the scenery. By the time I got off the hill, traffic was real crazy, but most of it was on the opposite side, leaving Seattle, but I still had little margin for error s I got closer to 5:00, and closer to the city. 
Pam had some confusing directions to the campground, and they took her on Interstate 5, so she was supposed to contact me if she could find a way for me to get there. I got to a suburb called Monroe, at about 5 o'clock, traffic was getting crazier, and another dark storm cloud was moving in, after an hour of the sun peaking through. I decided to pull into a McDonalds lot and give her a call. She had some trouble leveling the RV on a crooked site, and hadn't gotten directions, and with her getting some of that heavy rain, and it raining on my end too, she decided to come and pick me up. While I was driving to pick him up, the roads were FLOODING!  We had a rocking storm in Everett where we are staying. I was okay with that, because I really didn't feel like getting drenched for the third time today, and I might have run out of daylight in the last 25 miles to the campground. So we will pick up where I left off on another day, tomorrow or the next, because we are pretty much going to settle in here for the Labor Day weekend. We are not sure where we are staying, probably at a casino, because all the RV parks are full for the crazy weekend. There are two Indian reservations on the north end of Seattle that have casinos on them, and we can park at one or the other.

Someone left their friend messages all the way up the mountain!

The fog was moving in an out all day

Mountain shrouded by fog - note the snow!

Ready to start back on the cold, wet mountain

At the top of the mountain!

Stevens Pass

Cascading water!

Trail by Deception Falls

Tunnel along the road - yes the motorhome fit!

Here comes the fog again!

So much moss growing on the trees.  It's very damp around here.

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