Days 5-8: Twisp + Climbing Loup Loup, Wauconda and Sherman Pass
Day five we took a much needed rest day after climbing Washington Pass. After riding 10 miles from Winthrop to Twisp we spent most of the day doing laundry and updating the blog (much like I am doing again today..!), and then in the evening we met up with our WarmShowers.com futon host, Scott.
Some highlights from Twisp
- This grocery store that was more like a natural history museum:
- Meeting Scott! Scott was excellent; so glad we got to meet him. He lives in a tiny house that he built himself up on a hill. The house is built partially underground so it keeps the heat when it’s cold, and the hot out when it’s hot. On our night off we went to hear some local Jazz, we scoped out a local salmon restoration project and we spent the day enjoying Twisp.
Twisp has officially made it on our “places we would consider moving to” list. It’s small but the scenery is spectacular and the community seems to be rich with progressive-thinking, environmentally-conscious folks. Scott says a lot of people move there (especially people from California) and then leave because they can’t adjust to the lifestyle. I’ve been thinking a lot about what “adjusting to the lifestyle” really means — and about what lifestyle I want — since we left Twisp (lots of hours in the saddle means lots of time to think). I’ll let you know when I come up with some answers 🙂
Climbing Loup Loup, Wacounda and Sherman Passes
After a very nice day of rest and a warm shower, we headed back on the road to tackle days 5-8 and the next three passes of the Cascade Mountain range; Loup Loup, Wauconda and Sherman passes. Here’s a short breakdown of each:
Loup Loup Pass (4020′)
- The West to East climbing mileage is short(ish), but the “shoulder” is all gravel and rough pavement. It’s a real front-wheel slidin’ crotch vibrator — which makes climbing just a smidge harder than it needs to be.
- Of all four passes (Washington, Loup Loup, Wauconda and Sherman), traffic was probably the worst on this pass. Cars and trucks flew by fast and they seemed, say, less pleased that they had to maneuver around a couple slow-moving cyclists (we got a few red neck long honks; these are very different from the toot toot “good job” honks).
- We saw a spaced our carivan of Tesla cars in all different colors going up the pass. This was unexpected and kind of awesome.
- I found a tiny Alaska motorcycle license plate.
- The descent down the pass was awesome!!! We thought it might be gravelley and scary based on the ascent, but the road was (for some reason?) much better on the other side. This ascent was curvy and we were flying down at 30-plus-mph. I think this ascent was even faster than Washington Pass. Loved it; I can see why motorcyclists love it, too.
Wauconda Pass (4310′)
- Between Loup Loup and Wauconda, we passed through Omak and Okanogan. This is pretty much all I have to say about those two places:
Oh, and this:
The terrain was pretty dry. It looked like a good place to leave a body. We saw lots and lots of animal bones, some of which I may or may not have collected. And Dustin took this picture of me with a fisheye lens, which I find hilarious because it makes me look like a little person in a big world.
- Climbing Wacounda wasn’t bad. The elevation was manageable, the shoulder was decent and the gravel was sparse (excellent!)
- I found this bird:
- We stopped for lunch at a “cafe” + post office + gas stationn combination that was near the top of the pass. Neither the cafe nor the post office were open, so we ate our sac lunch at the picinic table and enjoyed these gems:
- The descent down Wauconda was excellent. Fast; safe; lots of shoulder; no traffic! We descended for about 12 miles (!) which I’ll take any day.
Sherman Pass (5575′)
Between Wauconda and Sherman passes we camped in Republic, WA at the state fairgrounds. Other than a little tikes rodeo, the place was pretty vacant so we made the “camp kitchen” cabin our home for the night.
At the Republic fairgrounds we took warm showers (25 cents for three minutes!) and we found this guy, who we aptly named “wizard eyebrows”:
- The climb wasn’t bad. The traffic wasn’t bad. The shoulder wasn’t bad. The sceney/terrain wasn’t bad.
- We saw this creepy abandoned mine on the way up (we speculate bears probably live in there now):
- We ate lunch at the top of the pass and learned all about the native americans that used to climb the pass via foot.
- Dustin wore this dongle-ey tripod on his helmet to capture the descent down our last pass. (And he made that face.)
- We descended — again at about 30mph — and crossed over the Columbia River Louis and Clark-style. (I am sure there was less road construction when Louis and Clark were crossing the river….. maybe…)