Day Four: Climbing 5,447 feet up to Washington Pass

After the 3mph climb up to Diablo we knew we were at the beginning of the end and we had some good ol’ climbs ahead of us. After spending all night thinking about whether it was feasible to hire a Sherpa to carry my panniers up the mountain, we woke up early to start the climb at 7am — before all the traffic was awake, and to give ourselves lots and lots of daylight climbing time.

At 7:20am we rolled onto SR20 East and started climbing at about 5mph — which means the incline was less steep and crazy than yesterday’s climb! (yay!) We did this for about 11 miles feeling pretty darn proud of ourselves, then we re-entered Skagit county at the foot of Rainey Pass and shit started to get real.

Mr. Mossystache at “Easy Pass” which I can only assume is some condescending joke.

A mountain snowman with the totem Jimmy bought for us from Money Poncho. (Thanx Jimmy!))

The whole climb up Rainey Pass basically looked like this. Lots of waterfalls and babbling brooks. The steep climbing was hard, but the scenery was unbeatable.

The ACA maps promised us it would be 11 miles of climbing from the foot of Rainey to the peak, then another 5 miles from the peak of Rainey to the peak of Washington Pass. So, after about 11.65 miles of climbing in the granny gear…. we started to get a little frowney. Dustin was convinced something must be wrong. I reassured him that there was nothing that could be wrong — either you’re going up the mountain or you’re going down it; there’s no other options. So if we’re not going down it… then we must still be going up it. So we stopped and ate some Naproxin and trail mix and kept climbing. We finally arrived at Rainey Pass at around 13 miles where we were greeted with lots of snow. The climb took us about 7 hours.

From Rainey Pass we enjoyed a 2-mile downhill and then a coasting flat that turned into a 2.5-mile quad buster up to Washington Pass. By this time, having (finally) conquered th we were feeling optimistic but pretty snail-ey. We took made lots of little goals and conquered each of them with lots of baby steps. Granny gears were well-used, but we never had to walk! (Which was unexpected.) Finally at the end of climbing mile 29 we arrived at the top of Washington Pass where we shook our booties so hard it hurt. Pictures were taken; sighs of relief were breathed.


An icy blue puddle of water at the top of Washington Pass.

After telling the mountain I love it and reveling at how close to the top of the Cascades we were, we said sianara to the snow and started our 13-mile (!) 33mph (!) descent down the other side of the mountain.

On the other side of the mountain it was immediatly warmer at it looked a lot like Montana: big sky, big fields, really beautiful in a totally different way:

We had planned to end day four in Mazama, but decided instead to push onto Winthrop in hopes of finding a hotel with a hot tub, or at least a bathtub we could eat Hot Fudge Sundays in. 16 miles past Mazama we found the Winthrop Valley Inn, which did not have a bathtub (frown face), but it did have a hot tub! Unfortunatly, the hot tub was full of 45-year-old motorcycle guys wearing mardi gras beads and coors light cowboy hats (seriously). So…. we skipped the hot tub and instead made sweet sweet love to the television (we watched SO MUCH TV AND IT WAS SO AWESOME!!!!) We also slept in a real bed and took showers that lasted longer than three minutes, which was also awesome.

Today — June 6 — I am writing this blog post from day 5 where we have ridden just 10 miles down the road to Twisp, Today is a break day. We went to the laundromat and washed our really, really smelly clothes (my gloves and jacket were really not cool anymore), and tonight we’re staying with someone from Tomorrow we’re going to do another climbing day — 12 miles up 4,000 feet to the top of Loup Loup Pass. I’ll let you know how it goes.





About Chelsea A.

A slow rolling cyclist looking to be an active participant in my own life. Interested in straw bale building, Wayne's World, books on tape, and taking it all one day at a time.

Posted on June 6, 2014, in Cross Country Bike Trip Journal - 2014 and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. love the stash but the snowman gives the creeps! passed up a perfectly good shower on the road kinda resembled a drive through car wash!


  2. Is that going to be your highest peak on the trip? Great pictures – and I loved the “easy pass” name! Really enjoying following this adventure!


    • Gary, this (Washington Pass) might be our highest peak. Going-to-the-sun road in Glacier np is nearly 7,000 feet, but bicycles only have four hours to do the trek (its closed to cyclists from 11-4 every day) so we’re thinking we’ll have to do Maria’s alternate and skip the Sun road. We can climb 7k, but probably not in 4 hour….

      Maria’s alternate through Glacier has a good 5,000+ climb in it. Not sure if it’s equally as tall/steep as Washington pass– guess we’ll see!

      So glad you’re enjoying the ride and the blog!! I’m a little behind (as you can see); the wireless is spotty going through these mountains. Hoping to get a few posts discussing days 5-10 up today 🙂


  3. This is so incredible!!! This shit is really, really, really, getting real isn’t it? Hah. I get so much joy and pleasure out of reading about your daily lives on the road. I’m extremely inspired by the challenges you are taking on every day. I can’t imagine climbing that mountain on a bike! Have your brains adjusted to the surreal awesomeness that you just made happen?!?! I’m so glad Dustin found that stash, and that you found it in your heart to carry that sugar skull so that ss snowman picture could happen! You both look so alive. I’m so proud of you both. Thank you so much for continuing to post so often, it makes us feel so connected to your journey, and the pictures are absolutely incredible! I love you both so much! Shelba


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