When I was in High School I was never too concerned about final exams. I managed to keep my grade point average high enough that I would have to flunk the final to get a B.
The Cascades seem to me to be a type of final test…ride 4000 miles to get strong enough to cross the Five passes to the Puget Sound. On paper they are very intimidating and there’s is no free ride for having done well from Maine to Newport, Washington.
The Lutheran Church comes over and fixes us a sumptuous breakfast, pancakes, ham, fresh fruit, yogurt, cereal, juices, and coffee. We can’t believe how much trouble they have gone to but we stuff our faces nonetheless.
With many hugs and thanks we head back to Idaho for just a few miles crossing back into Washington just up river from Newport. We enter the Kalispel Indian Reservation (this one spelled with a single “l”?) and suddenly to our left see a large herd of Bison…Buffalo live in Asia, not America…
To my right are numerous creeks descending rapidly from the peaks to the meandering river to my left, just below the Bison herd.
Wildflowers here dot every road
adding a tinge of color to the green forest floor. Ferns cover the ground a sign of the Rainforest Environment.
On we ride north to Ione and then up into the mountains in the far Eastern range of the Cascades. Our nights is on top on a campground at a lodge nestled between two high glacial lakes.
The climb itself is not too difficult, 4-5 miles at 6-7 degrees…some riders struggle with this being the first real climb since East Glacier Park.
I pace myself and arrive at the top in good time, where I find high mountain grassy plateaus. A few miles down I pull into the lodge, find our campground, set up my tent in an Evergreen Forest, and go off to find something to eat. We have a few sprinkles of rain moisten on our tents but this is the dry season and the sun comes out quickly to evaporate the rain.
As I walk back from the lodge I think about these five climbs. The first seems to me to be a warmup stage for the others…4-5 miles up is really not that much. The second will be a real test of endurance, 24 miles up at 7-8 degrees, the third a test of resilience to get up the next day and do it again, the fourth a test of gut strength with steeper but shorter climbs , and the last a test of determination to finish when muscles are tired, in need of a rest.
There is a gift at the end, a stay at Diablo Lake, one of the most enchanted places in the world…and then three days…count them…three days downhill to the Puget Sound.
My report card looks good so far…let’s hope for the best over the next four day’s tests…