Yesterday evening met Ellen and Ken from Oregon at the campground. Attracted by their ingenious small sleeping pod that they were towing we started conversation as seems so easy when camping. Before we knew it we were sitting by the campfire drinking red wine and eating chocolate. Liberal minded democrats they gave us further insight into the american nation and in return I hope we gave them some good tips on what to visit in London when they will be there for a few days later in the year.
This morning though I did begin to wonder about this cycing lark. I had found the last hour yesterday difficult and my posterior was considerably objecting to hours in the saddle. The first hour this morning my quads were objecting to more up hill. However a good slug of naproxen and 2 pairs of padded cycling shorts helped the ‘bottom’ problem. It was also rather tedious cycling as teh road was only marginally upwards – so it was hard work without making much progress up the hill.
Things improved as we crested the hill to see Rimrock Lake spread before us surrounded by mountains and bathed in early morning sunshine, and my legs miraculously recovered. The 3 cafes marked along the 6 mile ride along the lakeside were all closed (we thought because it was still only 8am but later told they are closed monday and tuesdays!). So we decided to stop buy the lakeside to brew up our own ‘second breakfast’. We found a magical spot tucked away behind a campground at the end of the lake, ducks and geese bobbing about in the foreground and the whole stretch of lake ahead with hazy outlines of mountains on the horizon. Moments like this was why we were travelling this way.
Renewed and fortified we started the climb up to White Pass (4500 fett having started at 2000 feet). Definitely fitter we managed a steady pace and rewarded by better and better view. Traffic was still not too bad and it was not too hot. Near the top we stopped at Clear Creek falls, a dramatic waterfall with stupendous views down the valley. We reached the top of the pass, 4500ft with a new vista beginning to open up. A handy cafe and grocery (this one open) for coffee and stock up on provisions before the long downhill to our destination at Mount Rainier. The descent turned out to be quite tricky. A blustery wind against us buffeted the bikes and the road shoulder periodically disintegrated giving David a scary close shave with a truck.
We had to concentrate incredibly hard and we donned out fluorescent waterproofs to make ouselves as visible as possible. The overwhelming memory thougth will be of the jaw dropping view of Mount Ranier (the problem with this blog is we are running out of superlative adjectives). The highest peak in Washington State (14,000ft) the top is covered in 14 glaciers so it suddenly loomed bright white against a foreground of green pine covered hills. There had been 2 major forest fires in the region so the atmosphere was hazy with smoke giving the mountain a surreal appearance of a delicate Japanese painting rather than the solid volcano that it is.
Safely at the bottom of the hill we divested ourselves of our fluorescent clothing and turned for the last few miles to the entrance of Mount Ranier National Park and Ohanapecosh campground. This was a delightful campground of massively tall pines and red cedars. We stopped at the ‘campground host’ to ask about vacant pitches (most seemed to reserved) and the Ranger directed us to the ‘first come first served area’. Soon we were chatting to the host, Richard, about England. We asked whether there was a bus to take us up to the main visitor area (27 miles up hill and we wanted a rest day). No bus, but he was sure either he or his wife could drive us up in the morning. There seems no end to the hospitality shown to dishevelled Brits on bicycles!
We found a vacant pitch – but before we settled a family from a neighbouring pitch offered us the one next to theirs – some of the family had left in the morning and the pitch was vacant but already paid for. Of course we offered them the 15 dollars and of course they declined and later fed us up with sausages and apple strudel! A big family gathering full of cyclists and rowers we returned their hospitality as best we could by chatting about out trip. We also bumped into Tom and Chris again – they were now a day ahead of us and had spent the day going up the mountain. It was good to catch up and share stories of our shared route and talk about plans for the future and wish them luck for the last couple of days of their trip.
So a good day overall, as David was not in fact hit by a truck (and he assures me it as not that close anyway) finishing with a campground with some of the tallest and straightest trees we have ever seen.