Clif Read

OVER RAINY PASS

Clif Read
OVER RAINY PASS

The dawn chorus of birds greeted us to a beautiful morning on the summer solstice at our beautiful campsite on the shores of Diablo Lake.  Following breakfast we began the day with a steep climb up to the Diablo Lake Lookout which provided a spectacular view over the lake and down the Skagit River valley.  Throughout the day we would encounter fellow cyclists, leapfrogging over one another as we would make our way up the long slog to Rainy and Washington Passes.  Cycling along Route 20, we marveled at the scenery which got even more spectacular with each passing mile.  At our early food stop at approximately the 11 mile mark, a cyclist went rocketing up the road.  After passing us he turned around and approached us, inquiring where we were going.  When we said "Rainy Pass" he immediately offered us some candy bars to help nourish us for this big climb.  We politely declined but really appreciated the random act of kindness by this stranger who turned out to be a ranger with the Park Service who was just riding up to Rainy Pass for the day.  

Up and up we continued to climb, gaining elevation and increasingly impressive views of the snow capped peaks around us.  Finally at the 27 mile mark of the day, we reached Rainy Pass at 4,835'.  Our friend Anne Armstrong had ridden this same route last year and encountered conditions that included rain and 38 degrees at the Pass (they did get a ride over both passes and avoided these dangerous conditions).  Our conditions were the complete opposite of Anne's experience as we had beautiful blue skies and temperatures in the 60's.  We met Ranger Mike who was enjoying a snack before his descent back to Marblemont and chatted about the ecology of the Cascades.

Following lunch, we all made a quick descent to the saddle between the two passes, followed by the last climb of the day with 900'+ elevation gain over 4 miles.  The reports of the breathtaking views from Route 20 up to Washington Pass were accurate as we chugged out way towards the 5,477' mark.  When everyone reached the Pass, we took the obligatory round of photos providing that we had really made it.  The descent down from Washington to Mazama was nothing short of thrilling.  From the Pass I went more than 8 miles before having to take my first pedal stroke, reaching speeds of over 40 miles and hour even while battling a headwind.  Bill and Julie however were not thrilled by this experience as they were buffeted by the strong winds.  

Our stop for the night was at the Mazama Ranch house, a wonderful place complete with a full kitchen, living room, hot tub and bed space for 10!  Even though it had only been two nights of camping, we are thrilled to have real beds for the night.  As we finished dinner, Sara encountered Jay and his son Ben who are cycling around Washington State for several weeks on their wooden bikes.  The Mazama store hour was closed by the time they arrived and they had no fuel, so we invited them in for dinner.  We enjoyed chatting with them and hearing about their various bicycle trips around the world.  

Total for the day - 50 miles, two mountain passes and 6,000' elevation gain!