Stage 3 - To the top of White Pass

Trip Start Jun 07, 2013
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , Washington
Sunday, June 9, 2013

We're sitting in the living area of the charming and historic Hotel Packwood.  Rooms for rent on either side of the hallway upstairs with two shared baths at the end of the hall.  It's a great little place that boasts having had President Teddy Roosevelt stay here in 1912 (yes, over a century ago!).  Dave and I are staying in the same bedroom he used, which suits my historic interests!  Outside the sun is still shining, and a nice westerly breeze is blowing - yes, that means we had a tailwind!  We're full of delicious pizza and I'm so tired it will be amazing if I can stay awake long enough to write this!

This is Ann, if you haven't already figured that out.  We started out this morning in Morton under low clouds.  The forecast was for clearing skies, though, so we weren't worried.  Highway 12 is a nice road to ride - wide shoulders and not a lot of traffic.  Our goal was to ride at a pace that didn't tire our legs, as we hoped to ride all the way to the top of White Pass before we were through tonight.  Dennis is a stronger rider, so he often rode on ahead, but Dave and I took it easy.  The sun burned off the clouds by mid-morning, and the breeze steadied out of the west, so it was pretty nice.  The road climbed gently for a ways out of Morton, then we had a  nice long down hill stretch. After that, quite flat the rest of the 30 miles into Packwood.   Lea met us there for lunch. We even found a bike she could ride!   While we ate, a couple riding their motorcycles came over and struck up a conversation.  The man asked about Dave's firefighter jersey, and we said our son was a firefighter in Pocatello.  He said that a guy named Ken, from his volunteer department near Yakima, had gotten hired by Pocatello a few months back.  We told him that was our son's name - and it turns out this man is a volunteer on the Gleed department where Ken had also been a volunteer.  Joe and Brenda were their names, with a last name that started with an "M".  Turns out Brenda knew Krystina's family well, and Joe and Brenda had been at Ken & Krys's wedding!  What a small world!  We had a great conversation - really nice people.

After lunch, it was time to face the mountains.  Our "trip plan" was to go only 7 miles up the road, to where Hwy 123 takes off to go north up to Cayuse and Chinook Passes, but we thought that if we could actually reach the summit of White Pass - about 20 miles from Packwood, it would make tomorrow soooo much easier and nicer.  The first 7 miles is pretty easy, some up and down, but nothing big.  After that, though, it gets steeper:  13 miles of almost constant up, sometimes with a grade of 7%+.  Dave and I went my speed (slow) and let Dennis ride it how he wanted.  We took frequent breaks, I ate plenty of "energy food" from the stuff Cori ordered for me, and we just kept pedaling.  It was hard at times, especially at first when it was steepest and hottest, but about halfway up the road levels off for a mile and gave us a break.  About 2/3 of the way up, Lea met us and gave us more water and some Coke.  That tasted so good!  The views were spectacular - canyons with rushing rivers, a glorious waterfall, and awe-inspiring views of Mt. Rainier. And God kept sending a nice breeze from the west to push us up and cool us off (the breeze was often blowing faster than I was riding, so we got some cooling effects!).  Took a little less than 3 1/2 hours total.  I did tell Dave that this section was one I never wanted to do again! But we made it, and that's what counts.  And tomorrow, it's all downhill to Yakima!
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