The good fortune that enabled us to make the smoothest of transitions from suburban professionals to unemployed vagabonds has miraculously continued to follow us on the road. Despite Seattle having just broken a long-standing record for rainiest March in recorded history (8.4 inches and counting), we rolled out of the city last Sunday under bright clear skies. Whether or not the high pressure system I had been crossing fingers and toes for ever bothered to materialize, I do not know. But what I do know is that we enjoyed five straight days of sunny, dry, spring weather as we rolled east through King and Snohomish counties, over Stevens Pass, alongside the Wenatchee and Columbia Rivers, and up into the northern Cascade Mountains.
Everywhere we went, we’d hear about the rain they got the day before. Or the storm coming our way. But we’d saddle up and move on, constantly staying one day ahead (or behind) the foul weather, blissfully comfortable in our dryness.
I sit here in the former mining town of Republic, Washington recollecting on the variety of landscapes we witnessed and still can’t believe all of those sights were packed into a week of cycling across state, and not a drive across country. Lush wet-side slopes gave way to towering snow-capped peaks which, in turn, stand as a roadblock to the Pacific moisture and yield a barren, rocky, canyon-filled country to the east. We pedaled along one of the continent’s great rivers, past a hundred miles of apple, cherry, and peach orchards (not to mention vineyards), and even got to see a few bighorn sheep… right where the road sign said we’d find them.
The delayed opening of North Cascades Highway wasn’t the setback I thought. Instead, the late February snows that forced us to take Highway 2 over Stevens Pass opened up an opportunity to see far more varied terrain. Central Washington proved far more scenic, and the roads more enjoyable, than I anticipated.
Of course, this isn’t San Diego. Our “easy” 65 miles on Thursday from Lake Chelan State Park to Omak turned us straight into a stiff and unrelenting headwind that lasted the whole of the day. Leaving Omak, we continued north to Tonasket, only to be met with rain and the promise of mountain snow. Sure enough, the drizzle turned to snow as we ascended past 3500 feet in elevation on our way to Wauconda Pass (4,310 feet). The gentle snow that was so pleasant to ride through on the western slope turned to a driving sleet that pelted our faces on the eastern descent into this old mining town, where we anxiously took a couple nights to let our shell-shocked bodies recover.
Special Thanks: This first week was made all the more enjoyable thanks to the generosity and hospitality from our Warm Showers hosts Andrea and Jerry, Curt, and Parker. Also want to thank Jerry Holkins (aka Tycho) for his generous gift which effectively sponsored our weekend stay in Republic. Pints will be raised in your honor tonight!