he trip is a pilgrimage of sorts, celebrating the life of Charlie Read and riding to support epilepsy research in his name. It is both physical challenge and an emotional journey, being in the present and reaching for a larger meaning.
As we climbed into the Cascade Mountains from Seattle, we followed the Skagit River (Skagit, pronounced with a soft "g"), reflecting an emerald green, which we traversed by bridge on a few occasions. As we slowly wended our way into the mountains, the river narrowed to a stream (or "creek" in western vernacular). Along the way, a number of springs exploded from cliff-side rocks and vigorous snow-fed brooks wafted welcome cool breezes as if we were passing a deep freeze with the door open. On a bike, as distinguished from mountain hiking, one is able to take in natural surroundings and breathe in the intoxicating aroma of sage blossoms over comparably vast distances.
We encountered waterfalls at the higher elevations in Cascades National Park (the word "cascades" derived from the French for water fall). A number of French words, likely passed on by early French settlers, trappers and explorers have worked their way into mountain lore, including, e.g., col, chute, piste, escarpment.
We were pleased that some of the immense logging trucks gave a warning toot down the road behind us as they approached, as the road at times narrows, requiring cautious vigilance. Overall, I was impressed by the incredible pristine beauty of the Cascades, the mountain lakes, and the overall quietude, far from the madding crowd. -- BILL TOBEY