I spent this past weekend camping in the best of all places: the North Cascades. While I camped on the shores of lovely Diablo Lake (a medium-sized glacial lake surrounded by high, snow-capped peaks just east of the Cascade Crest), my bike stayed locked in my car until Sunday when I had a chance to bring it to the high country for a ride.
This was the warmest and clearest weather we’ve enjoyed all year, with the temperature reaching into the 90s Fahrenheit, although during the course of this ride I got hit with several blasts of 45 degree air. It would happen whenever I’d go through the shade of a grove of trees, or by a waterfall, and it was a relief every time.
My pocket-sized camera died about a month ago on a rock climbing trip, and I haven’t replaced it yet (hence the lack of trip reports). For this ride, I took my SLR camera, which was a bit unnerving (it will hurt a lot if I crash). But it turned out well, and this was a fantastic ride.
The approach to Rainy Pass, with an almost empty road.
I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to present this weekend’s adventure, and decided it would be best to split it into two posts. I’ll begin by describing the ride itself.
I spent last weekend camping in Icicle Canyon, outside Leavenworth, got up Sunday morning, and enjoyed a road ride up a narrow mountain valley until I was stopped by the snow. This was my first ride of the year in a tee-shirt without a jacket, and my first sunburn of the year. This is exciting for a person who lives in Seattle.
The ride started in the lower canyon, and I went east on E Leavenworth Road. This is a very handy bypass that avoids the main strip in town, going from Icicle Road to the far end of US 2, near the Safeway. It’s also a scenic ride, especially in the spring; it offers views into Icicle Canyon as well as of the mountains that surround Cashmere Valley, including Icicle Ridge, a dramatic rise to the west. Of course, this is most scenic with snow on the peaks.
Snowy mountains rising up above Icicle Road; this looks into the canyon. Ironically, the ride began as I left the canyon, stretching my legs on flatter ground.
I did this ride last year, and loved it. Now that spring is in the air, I wanted to enjoy a favorite route, with a few changes for the better: go earlier in the season, to see more snow on the peaks, and ride the loop counter-clockwise this time.
Icicle Ridge and Cashmere Mountain standing behind Leavenworth, WA, covered in snow.
My bike, at the start of the ride, with Little Bavaria in the background and a Cashmere Valley Bank post to lean on.
Like Friday before it, Saturday was a fine day in the Pacific Northwest, and unlike its predecessor, it wasn’t filled by work. So I took my bike to Darrington, and rode it to Rockport. This was an out-and-back from the Mountain Loop “highway” to the North Cascades Highway.
Heavily glaciated White Horse Mountain over “downtown” Darrington, WA.
This is a ride I did last July (7/8/2012), and apparently never got around to writing about, probably because the photos wound up not being as spectacular as the ones from other rides. 😦 Yesterday was a sunny day, with a clear blue sky and glorious views of the surrounding mountain ranges, and as I’ve been sitting in front of a computer most of the day for work, my mind has wandered toward the high country. Also, I miss summertime.
Last year I spent four days camping in the North Cascades at Diablo Lake (Colonial Creek Campground) and used the time to enjoy two great road rides. One of these was a short and sweet climb over Rainy Pass.
Snowy, craggy peaks above the North Cascades Highway, heading east.
Rainy is one of the two passes along SR-20, move lovingly known as the (gorgeous) North Cascades Highway. The road mostly follows valleys, but must cross two ridges, first over Rainy Pass and then Washington Pass, before it descends into the Methow Valley.
Rainy Pass on a hot day, with July snow.
My little brother used to work in Edmonds, and it’s the ferry terminal that’s most convenient to visit my mother on the peninsula. So I’m familiar with the seashore town of Edmonds, meaning it’s never seemed very exotic to me. But this isn’t the time for exotic; the sun sets at 4:30 pm, and rain is an almost daily problem. We had a sunny day, and I decided to bring my bike up north and explore Edmonds in more detail.
The beach and the ferry terminal at Edmonds.
This is something I should have posted in the summer, and never got around to. In fact, I did this ride in early July; it’s on my mind because winter has once again found the Pacific Northwest, and I’ve been reminiscing about warmer, sunnier times while planning snow shoe trips. And I realized I’d never written about this ride from Winthrop.
Winthrop is a small town in northern Washington, and depends heavily on tourism. It has a cowboy facade, much like Leavenworth has a Bavarian character. Situated near North Cascades National Park, Winthrop attracts the outdoor crowd. Skiing and mountain biking are popular here, but I’d heard a lot of buzz about road riding in the Methow Valley, and, on a short vacation for the 4th of July, I decided to go find out for myself.
Looking west toward the North Cascades and the edge of town, at Methow Cycle & Sport. This ride departs SR 20 here for Chewuch Road.
I parked at “the red barn” next to Methow Cycle & Sport, left my car, and rode into town for lunch. The kind folks at the bike shop told me I’d be able to leave my car there without it being towed or stolen. They were right!
Leaving civilization behind and coming into the Okanogan Highlands near the Pasayten wilderness. Like the last adventure, this is a hot and dusty place, parched by the sun, fed by the occasional creek.