Last Tuesday we set out for a month and a half tour along the backroads of Cascadia. We had a plan. The plan was to follow a combination of three routes, the Washington Backcountry Discovery Route, The Trans Canada Adventure Trail, and the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. There was just one glitch in this plan, a fairly obvious Achilles heel of the whole trip. That glitch was snow in the mountains on a mountainous route (duh, right?). We thought we’d run into issues around 5,000 to 6,000 ft in elevation, but boy were we wrong. We’re pleased to report, from the field, that Washington has had a record winter this year, which is great for the region, but not so great for our route plans. Here’s what is going on…
We left Cascade Locks on Tuesday, April 19 and casually rolled through Gifford National Forest into the mountains. It was a hot day, but our agenda only called for a 48 mile ride ending with the luxury of a primitive campground. We eased into the ride, stopping a lot, soaking up the sights, taking cat naps. It was the first day on tour and we were loving it. As we approached the final climb of the day we saw snow, just a few patches at first, but soon enough we were hiking through four foot snow pack at only 3,300 ft. We hiked for a mile maybe two and in total disbelief we decided that we needed to set camp to reevaluate what the hell we were doing out there. Should we turn around and go back to Portland? Should we keep going? How would we keep going? We would have to completely throw our plans out the window. Yeah, we felt naive and embarrassed. What were we thinking?
We woke up the next morning with a slightly less tired, less dehydrated, and hangry perspective (hungry/angry). We were 13 miles from the town of Trout Lake which we heard had really good hucklebery milkshakes. The new goal was to make it down the mountain to Trout Lake, get a milkshake and figure out a new plan from there. It sounded easy at the time, we thought, sure we’d have to hike 3 miles or so, all downhill, then have an easy spin to town. We were psyched to not turn back and started the hike with enthusiasm. The snow got deeper and rubbed at our shins as we slowly discovered that our hike out of the snow was really more than 7 miles. Like the walk of shame after a gamble failed, we accepted it, and hiked ahead. We are not accustomed to starting a tour in the rough and abandoning the plan, but on this side of things, we’re pretty grateful.
We have been forced to forgo a pre-determined route and agenda and do it the old fashioned way, with a map, following what looks good. We’re finding that Washington has no shortage of forest roads, BLM lands, and national forests, which makes navigating and riding a total joy. From stratovolcanos, jagged mountains, sage filled valleys, and crooked rivers, the scenery in Washington is keeping us thoroughly visually stimulated. So far we’ve been heading Northeast, along the foothills to avoid the snow. We reached our mid-way destination of Wenatchee where we have been visiting with family and getting our fill of jumping on trampolines with 4 kids under the age of 8. One thing is sure, we needed this. We needed the no schedule, the no plan, to follow the tune of the route you’re into, when you get tired of that tune, change the station. That’s the sort of freedom you dont get when you are following a set route, a line on a gps unit, and we’re looking forward to the next few weeks of just living and following the fun. As we ride past these snow capped mountains we can’t help but imagine what beautiful perspectives our intended route would offer, so we’ll definitely be back later this summer to finish what we started.
This trip will be “Part One” of our Cascadia adventure so be sure to follow along as we make up our way East to Whitefish, Montana. We’re by no means out of the snow dog house yet…
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For the route we have ridden so far, click here.
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