Day 9: Ellensburgh to Windy Creek Campsite

Stats for the day: 62 miles; 1950 ft of climbing; 3046 calories
The alarm went at 5.30 although that now seems pretty usual for us. I don’t think we have been awake after 10 any evening of this trip. When we are camping we pretty much seem to follow the daylight hours and so an early start makes sense. Packing is easy in a hotel room although it was a little crowded with both of our bikes and all the panniers in the room. Breakfast started at 6, and we were there soon after. CNN was on in the corner and it showed that the US has suffered terrible storms. We were also warned about forest fires since some of the roads are closed where there is a bad fire. However none of the reported fires appeared to be directly on our route.
I attempted to use the waffle maker at breakfast and proved my English heritage by getting the mixture all over the waffle-maker! But I got there in the end. However we were not detained long, and were on the road well before 6.30.
The road out of Ellensburgh took us down through the Yakima River canyon. It was stunning in the early morning light. It was more of a steep valley than a classic river canyon which had been forged by the swirling waters of the river, but the steep sides were a mixture of different colours, changing as the sun came up from yellows to orange to brown.
There was a rail track in the canyon usually on the other side of the river. Just as Bernie commented that the tracks appeared lightly used, we heard a train coming. It was pulled by 2 locos, and had numerous open trucks which must have been for some type of aggregate or coal. It was about 1 mile long – and there were 2 further locos at the back. Although it was only travelling at maybe 20mph, it would be hard to imagine the effort needed to either start or stop the train because of the hundrerds of trucks that were being pulled. It was, however, going faster than us!
The canyon ended in a town called Selah (I think pronouned Ceee-lah but maybe not). We stopped for breakfast at about 9am at the Sweet Beez Cafe, and checked things on line. We were amazed to discover that our inane ramblings appear to have attracted over 150 hits yesterday. There were also some lovely comments from those who are following this trip, and seem to be emotionally cycling every mile with us. That is great but, if you are one of those, could you offer a little more than emotional support when it gets steep. A little extra to steer us up the hill would be great! Seriously though its nice to think we are being read.
After breakfast we set out to find a bike shop because my front wheel had slipped a little out of true, and it set off oscillations in the front wheel which destabilised the bike. After about 5 miles of extra cyling we found the wonderful “Revolution Cycles” in Yakima (a large town just over the river from Selah). It was a bike shop and cycle repair shop in one; staffed by guys who really knew their spokes from their nipples and were mildly amused that we should be cycling with so much gear. However the wheel was put up on the jig and a few spoke adjustments meant that it was back in true, and the vibrations stopped. The best thing about this was that nothing could have been too much trouble; the guys just gave the impresssion of liking being around all things bike.
After Yakima we took the road on the south side of the river Naches to the town of Naches. This is fruit country, and has an emerging reputation for its wine. The vinyards are on the south facing slopes and the fruit orchards are on the northern facing slopes (or that is how it seemed to us). The water for the crops all comes from complex irrigation systems because, although there is not much rain here, there is plenty of water from the mountain rivers. This produces a strange effect with there being a sharp divide between the green areas where the irrigation is working to adjacent the scrub desert where there is no irrigation. The fruit trees were not far off being ready for picking and the trees were right up to the road. However lots of signs threatened dire consequences for anyone who strolled into the orchards to “pick your own”.
As a town our experience was that Naches was dull, over-rated and closed on a Monday. It may of course be exciting, under-rated and vibrant on a Tuesday but we saw it on a Monday lunchtime when everything apart from the petrol station was closed. We stock up with water and food at the petrol station and then ambled on following the Naches Old Road. We had rejoined the “route” at Naches having stuggled on our own route to get there as a result of our deviation to Revolution Cycles.
We ambled along and then stopped for lunch. By this time Bernie’s nether regions were objecting to the shape of her saddle and it was getting hot. So we just did another 10 miles up the State Route 12, doing the first 600 feet or so of the massive climb up to White Pass (which at 4,500 feet is our aim for tomorrow).
The campsite is basic but wonderful. It is by the river Tieton, which flows down from the Rimock Lake. There is water here but no showers so we washed in river. This was “bracing”, which roughly translated means the water was very cold! We have had colder mountain streams in the Himalayas (where the water makes one’s head hurt it is so cold) and this was not on that scale. But it was no heated swimming pool either. However the situation was so magnificant that it was the best wash of the holiday so far.
Now I am sitting on a wooden bench, typing away and enjoying the late afternoon temperature. Bliss is an overused word – but this is bliss (or it would be if there were not various insects whose sole aim in life appears to be to impersonate Dracula on my person or impose a sting). None successful so far, but it is only a matter of time. Despite that it is a beautiful spot.
Sorry no phots at the moment as the gadget for transferring them from the camera to the iPad has given up the ghost!  Technology has its limits but we will find a way around it.

1 thought on “Day 9: Ellensburgh to Windy Creek Campsite

  1. It is so much fun to read about your journey this week, following more or less the same route we did earlier in the month. The climb up White Pass is easier than to Rainy Pass so you will have a great day tomorrow! Mt. Rainier will be out in all its glory! Best wishes of r safe travels. Rita and Gary

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