Day 3. Sunday, June 23 – Colonial Creek to Mazama, Washington

Monday 24 June 2013

Forty eight degrees is really cold climbing out from a toasty down sleeping bag.  But a steaming hot cup of coffee (note the stove) and homemade cinnamon rolls warmed us and got us rolling out of the door by 7:00.  A shout out to our campmates, great to talk to you last night; sorry we didn’t get a photo of you.

Immediately leaving the campground, we started our climb leaving the 7771 foot high Colonial Peak behind us.

We stopped often on our iniital climb to try to capture some of the beauty that surrounded us.

Within 45 minutes we dismounted to let the Duckies rest and strip off jackets; even in the 50 degree temps, the sweat was rolling.  The morning was beautiful, though the air was cool, the rain that had been promised for all day was still in sunshine form.

Clouds started gathering and a little more than two hours into our ride the sunshine was gone, but waterfalls and beauty still abound.  We knew our climb today was going to be tough (started at the pen), but had no idea how much the lack of training on hills with 60+ pounds loaded on the bike would effect us…..ALOT, apparently.  Four hours into our ride, we were still trying to reach our fist peak, having only gone about 20 miles.  Thankfully, Terry (running a sag wagon for some bikers)flagged us down and offered us water and homemade cookies, he was a lifesaver.  Having done this ride, as well as cross country trips before, he assured us the worst was behind us.  An hour later and still climbing, we had our doubts.  We did not reach our first summit (4855 feet) until after one o’clock.  True to it’s name, it was starting to drizzle.  We then dropped 2500 feet only to have to re-climb that plus a thousand to reach our next pass.  The second climb was slow, painful and it was now raining.  Our legs were screaming and on the verge of cramping; Terry’s bottle of water was the last we had and that was a couple of hours earlier.

It took us over an hour to make the over three mile climb, but we made it.

Dreams of our joyous fly down were dampened by the icy cold rain that was now pelting us.  We tested our brakes as we rode down, making sure they would still work in the wet conditions.  Had to stop a few times, just to thaw the hands to keep them working on the brakes.  It took us over an hour to ride the 20 miles downhill.  Though the air was now dry and 70, my hands and feet were like rocks of ice.  As we stood at the crossroads, trying to decide whether to stay at the little town in front of us or continue to Winthrop to catch up with Terry and his gang, we were rescued by Sam and Katie.  Every once in a while, someone special happens to us on a ride; Same and Katie were that someone!  They offered us their cabin for the night, as they were heading back to Seattle, but not without first showing us to the most incredible community hot tub; perfect for our cold and aching bodies.  Sam, Katie and company are delightful and we were sorry they had to head home as we would have enjoyed spending more time with them.  Though, after over seven hours in the saddle doing 52 miles, we were really not much company.

Day 4. Monday, June 24 – Mazama to Okanogan, Washington

Monday 24 June 2013

Slept soundly (10 hours) with the crisp mountain air coming through the windows while being tucked under double down comforters.  By the time we got out of the door at nine, all that remained of the overnight rain hung on the mountains, or so we hoped.  Though the morning was overcast, it was still a beautiful ride.

It helped that the morning portion of the ride was rolling hills, allowing time to enjoy the “simple” things.

The dense forest that had surrounded us for days, opened up to the beautiful Methow River Valley.

It took us an hour and a half to reach Winthrop, where we had planned on staying last night.  Though it looked like a cute town, we still cherished Sam & Katie’s cabin last night.  The winds previously hidden in the thick forest, now took full advantage of us as we rode along the river valley.

Shortly before noon we stopped for lunch in Twisp, our last outpost before our destination tonight.  The only thing that lay between us and Okanogan was a 12 mile straight up mountain.  Experience has taught us not to eat a large meal before a big climb, but we also knew we would need the fuel of a Rueben and Cheese Steak sub to get us to the summit.  Our nice lunch rest allowed the rain clouds to catch up to us; as we pedaled away from Twisp it started to sprinkle.  Luckily, during our twelve mile climb it never actually rained, just a mist to sprinkle, which gave the fields a healthy glow.Though this climb was steeper than yesterday’s, thankfully it was slightly shorter and (we hope) our legs are finally getting used to what we are doing to them each day.  We took our time, resting often and finally made it to Loup Loup summit by 4 pm.Lesson learned from yesterday’s decent, we stopped to don warm clothes and dry gloves.  We sailed down the 18 miles; apple (red delicious and gala) orchards being the only thing notable, but not enough to stop and photograph. The first ten miles of drop was steep enough to not have to pedal, but gradual enough to not need brakes; not having freezing rain in our face helped, too.  Finally made it to our hotel by 5:30; six and a half hours of hard riding and 58 miles completed, it was time to stop.

Day 5. Tuesday, June 25 – Okanogan to Tonasket, Washington

Tuesday 25 June 2013

Two options for mileage today and taking a day off was not one of them after only four days of riding.  We opted for a mini-rest day of 25 miles instead of 70 (which included a Mountain pass)…..see, we haven’t totally lost our faculties.  So by the time we started riding after ten this morning, the skies were overcast and temps were hovering around 70.

Followed the Okanogan River through the Colville Indian Reservation past beautiful fields and past desert shrubs.

We felt as if we had just been dropped into the middle of a western movie set,with movie extras on stand-byand comic relief at the ready.The different shrubs were captivating with their varying shades of greens in the day’s muted light.

By noon, the sun was trying to burn through the clouds, warming the day to around 80.

The low rolling hills and wind at our back made the 32 miles (yes, I too, thought we were only doing 25) almost painless.  We checked into our motel by 1:30, allowing the remaining daylight to rest our legs.  However, after a long shower and relaxing for a couple of hours, we had to do a quick walk-around the cute small town of Tonasket, complete with flowers in whiskey barrels.

The blue sky was now brilliant offering a stellar backdrop for the US and Canadian flags (we are only 25 miles from the boarder).Topped off the day with salad, pizza and a bottle of red.  We noted the increase in wind velocity on our stroll back from dinner and hoped it would not be a concern during our climb tomorrow.

Day 6. Wednesday, June 26 – Tonasket to Republic, Washington

Thursday 27 June 2013

Coasted down four blocks for breakfast, only to find we were the last of the bikers bellying up to the breakfast troth. Had a hearty breakfast of blueberry pancakes while trading stories with the two other couples there; Bill and Linda from Langley, British Columbia and Doug, Donna and their darling dog from Prince George BC. By seven, we all packed up and immediately started our uphill climb.The morning was beautiful, overcast, yet no rain,the mercury reaching for 60; perfect for the tough climb we had ahead of us.  We traveled past farms and hillsides with very few trees but lots of low shrubs in beautiful hues of green;fortunately, the recent rains had left most of the growth green.
We had a light tail wind for most of the morning with an occasional whip around to the face.  The day a had a serene kind of beauty and peacefulness, not much traffic to interrupt the sound of the birds and crickets.
At the 14 mile mark the fields disappeared and the trees filled the hills to the road’s edge.
Had an early lunch at the only outpost between here and there.  The Wauconda Cafe is a vintage country store and post office, circa 1930, originally built on the other side of the mountain in 1898; during the gold rush days.  We enjoyed our lunch break (this was supposed to be a small cup of soup), rest and the local conversation, but we had two more miles to reach our pass for the day.  Shortly before 1:30, we completed our straight up 28 mile climb. We only had to pedal about 50% of the time on our thirteen mile ride into town, the air filled with the smell of Christmas trees.  And though we saw many showers during the day, we managed to dodge all the raindrops today; it was a wonderful ride!
And then we stepped back in time as we arrived in the town of Republic. Barely reaching the edge of town, someone comes out of their shop to ask if we needed directions.  Seeing where our hotel was, we declined, so she offered a recommendation of the Brew House across the street, should we need refreshments after our days ride…….not us!  
Incredible town, the cars stop blocks in advance, if you are crossing the road, even a deer crosses the street without a problem.  Strolling along main street, people wave from the other side of the street and their cars; we felt like we were in a Twilight Zone capsule of genuinely friendly people….it’s a really good feeling.  We were sorry it was not time for a day off, as this town makes you feel welcome the instant you get here.

Though legs are still tired, we felt pretty good about our 28 mile climb, 41 mile day.  Hopefully, we will have the same thought after tomorrow’s steeper climb.

 

Day 7. Thursday, June 27 – Republic to Kettle Falls, Washington

Tuesday 25 June 2013

Out of the door at 7:00 …..backup, out of the door at 7:30 this morning.  Of course, it was not until our bikes were fully loaded that we realized I had a flat tire.  By this time, the clear skies that had been promised were cold (about 45 degrees) and wet (not quite a drizzle, but heavier than a mist).  Anyway, it was chilling.

Our first three miles were on a dedicated paved trail along highway 20; where we enjoyed the beautiful views without the traffic noise. And then we began to climb; scary after an hour of climbing we see a sign that warns of a steep grade…..Really?  Think the sign should have been a few miles down the mountain.

Speaking of signs; there’s something wrong this this one, right?We followed a roaring stream most of the morning,past beautiful fields and farms hanging tight to the shoulder for the passing log trucks.

We continued, slowly with lots of stops in the plentiful turnouts.Close to the top there was a large area that had apparently had a huge fire several years ago.  While the low growth was thriving, sticks remained where large old trees once thrived.

After four hours of biking, we managed to get to the top of the 18 mile climb. It was a tough climb, same elevation change as yesterday (climbed 3000 feet), just condensed into shorter distance…….ie: it was tough, and we still had 25 miles to get to our destination.  We had planned to rest at the top, enjoy victory and lunch, but the wind was so strong and the rain threatening, we did not linger.

Once again the first few miles of straight drop were wet and freezing; we waited for the air to warm and our bodies to thaw.  Somewhere along the ride down, we warmed and started to once again enjoy the beautiful scenery.

But we were tired and welcomed the site of the dive we were staying in tonight.  Unfortunately, we had to bike another mile + for dinner, but found another great local brew house (yes, they serve wine too) for a delicious and laid back dinner.  Nothing left after 46 miles; just hoping a good night sleep will be enough for another climb tomorrow.

Day 8. Friday, June 28 – Kettle Falls to Ione, Washington

Saturday 29 June 2013

Sunshine!Seventy degrees when we started at 7:30 this morning, after pedaling down the road to (apparently) The place for breakfast, consuming our daily supply of sugar in the form of french toast and blueberry pancakes.  Our first 14 miles took us along the forest edge,past creeks and farms.Equal opportunity photo……Perfectly Gorgeous morning.

The best part was it was flat; something we had not enjoyed since beginning this ride.  After a week of seeing deer everywhere, I was finally able to get a picture, they are much quicker than my camera.Once reaching Colville however, everything changed.  We began continuous rolling UP (not up and down) hills. These shorter, stair step climbs were a steeper grade than the straight up mountains of the last several days and they were taking their toll on our legs.  But the day was spectacularly gorgeouswith very little traffic and an occasional log trucks.The fields were a rich, healthy green and the crystal clear blue sky was accentuated by pristine white clouds……breathtaking!

Just before noon and 32 miles of riding we reached Crystal Falls. Without any sound of water all morning, we turn a corner for this spectacular sight,not to mention the family rapelling down the cliff to the falls. We stayed there for a rest, nourishment and our remaining water, hoping to regain some energy for what we hoped was the downward leg of the ride. Though the temperature was only in the 80’s, in the sun the heat was cooking us. Obviously, we had not given enough respect to the gentle climb the topography showed for today’s ride.  It was not until 2:00, we were able to stop for more water and lunch; not sure how much farther either of us had in us, without this stop. Several miles down the road we finally came to the downhill that we had been waiting for all day.  Within minutes of our ten minute thrill down, all memory of heat and exhausted legs disappeared, the smell of pine filling our lungs.  Just what we needed to invigorate us enough to go the 20 more minutes to “town” and our stop for the night. This is second time we have been within 25 miles of the Canadian border.  Though we are going to cross it soon, we apparently need to travel further south, first.  But not tonight, after our 6 1/2 hour ride and almost 57 miles, we needed to stop.

Day 9. Saturday, June 29 – Ione to Newport, Washington

Saturday 29 June 2013

We got an early start this morning as we wanted a jump on the 90 degree heat that was forecasted for the day.  But at 6:30 in the morning it was quite cool, about 58 degrees and no wind. Our course today was on a relatively flat, back country road that followed up the Pend Oreille River past river homes; yes, this river flows north into Canada.  We biked through the Kalispel Indian Reservation, sharing the road with white tail deer and chipmunks, but we only have pictures of horses, cows and flowers. The day was taking a while to warm up, but we didn’t mind the overcast skies, as it kept it cooler.  The sky was looking “interesting” (for lack of a better word), but it made for striking scenery. Not sure if it was because of or in spite of the overcast skies, but we were thoroughly enjoying the ride.

By ten we arrived at the only crossroads that offered refreshments and a break from the saddle.  Since we had already completed 35 miles, we decided to treat ourselves with a rest stop and pastries.  The ride across the bridge (to our stop) offered spectacular views down the river. As we crossed back over the bridge to resume our ride, the wind picked up and it began to rain… pour, lightening.  We made a quick U-turn and quick run back to our previous stop to wait out the storm.  Arrived in time to be undercover when a thunder rumble rocked the floor of the store we were in.  It took another half hour for the storm front to pass, so we could continue.

When we pushed off again, it was still sprinkling but a comfortable mid-60’s, so we continued to enjoy ride, despite the gently rolling hills that threatened our potential double digit average for the first time since we began.  The rain didn’t last and the fields took on a healthy glow. We shed our rain jackets as the temps kissed 70 degrees and dropped again as the rain threatened, it was definitely a duckie kind of day.

Our goal was to get to our destination before the skies opened for a second time.  Unfortunately, we were two miles short of making it happen.  We unceremoniously crossed into Idaho and back into Washington in pouring rain, but we were able to check into our hotel before 1:30 and rest for the rest of the afternoon.  By dinnertime, the sun had come out and our stroll to dinner was lined with flowers. Nothing like a Huge plate of meatloaf and mashed potatoes to cure what ale’s ya’, eh!.  Not a bad reward after 54 miles.