June 29, 2015
Rockport to Winthrop WA
I think that the people from the state of Washington have been hiding how beautiful the Cascades are. They hand out this story about rainy and cold in the hopes that no one will come and find out, because once people discover this hidden gem it will be overrun with people.
However I am ahead of myself. Starting at about 3:00 Am it started to rain and rain big time. It was still pouring hard by 5:30 Am alarm time. We crawled out and realized that it was going to be a long hard and wet day. The 153 kms were broken down into 100 kms up hill and with something like 2750 meters of climb to the summit of Washington Pass in Casscade National Forest followed by 50 kms of downhill into the town of Winthrop. In a way the pouring rain was good as it had been forecast to be 37C. The climb consisted of several sections with the longest at 31 kms of 3.5%. By 9:30 Am the rain had abated and the clouds were breaking up and the sun was starting to dry the pavement. Along the way we were treated to views of Gorge Lake. Sometimes up close, and sometimes from a high ridge. The water of Gorge Lake is the most stunning emerald green I think I have ever seen. To say that it was a long grind to the summit would be a total understatement and would not to justice to the hard work which went into the climb. I am definitely getting a 32 cog rear cassette as the 28 just isn’t big enough.
Once at the summit the downhill is a screamer. There is at least 25 kms of 15% including this huge high banked oval switch back. It was so steep I had to just close my eyes and hold on. The views of the surrounding mountains are truly awe inspiring. They all reach in to the 7500’ s of feet and tower above the gorges below. Each one is capped with a glacier and there were still huge piles of snow in the ditches of the road. There was a snow gauge beside the road which was 25 feet tall. My guess it that it is not too tall.
Winthrop is the little town (390 pop) where we are staying tonight. It is all dressed up in a western outlook with the weathered wood store fronts. There must be 5 restaurants and 10 gift stores and 3 saloons. Ed, Jos and I enjoyed a huge ice cream cone in one corner store/bakery/candy store and giftware euphorium. We were really ready as the temperature gauge now read 34C.
What a great day