Aug 21

Packwood to Yakima

by in 2001 RAW

Tuesday, August 21: 82 miles

Mt Rainier

Waiting for the blasting

Our first big mountain pass

Day three was the day of the BIG CLIMB – White Pass, 4,500 feet. We knew we’d get hot soon, but it was cold when we started. The UP was about 20 miles long. We just started pedaling. Gorgeous views of Mt. Rainier. And pedaling. Beautiful basalt columns rose alongside the road. And pedaling. There were lots of rest stops along the way with water, fruit, and cookies thanks to the HAM radio guys. They even had plastic champagne flutes and sparkling cider to toast our accomplishment. However, the stop for that was 3 miles short of the summit. It seemed early for celebrating. But there wasn’t anyone to cheer at the top! Would Lance Armstrong climb the Alp d’Huez without a finish line celebration there? I think not. (Actually, he probably does it in his sleep from all his training trips, but that is beside the point).

We started down the pass and had to stop within 2 miles as they were blasting loose rock from the side of the hills. It was a 20+ minute wait. But, again, it turned out fine. All the car traffic went by, then the bikes. As we were going by the flagger, she said we’d have 20 minutes before the next cars came through.

20 minutes of 35-45 mph downhill with no traffic! It was heavenly. We stayed right in the middle of the lane and flew down the mountain. As the only tandem in our little group, we quickly outpaced all the singles. We don’t know how fast we went because the contacts on our cycle computer had grimed up, so it stopped working. Eventually we got to the relative flat portion on the other side. It was HOT and dry on the eastern slope. We saw climbers on the rocks across the river. A single rider caught up to us and hitched a ride for the last 30 miles. Her name was Alison. She was good company. Without her, we would have been pushing the headwinds alone, and that is boring. A second single, Adam, joined us as we left a fruit stand where we’d been stocking up on water.

The last 10 miles into Yakima were along their riverside trail. It was a very pleasant way to get through  a big town. We finished at Sportsman’s Park. We set up our tent to dry the night’s dew from it. Then we repacked and put it on the truck.

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