Its time I come clean. I have been stretching the truth a bit for the last couple years. When asked, I have said that I have conquered every hill I have ever attempted on my bike. Well there was one in which that was not entirely true. 3 years ago I tried this hill. I got about 4.5 miles from the top, and called it quits. Now granted, I was out of water, (I didn’t follow my own rules this time) and it was hot. So I blamed needing liquids. Truth be told, It kicked my ass.
I did this same route 2 years ago, but I hung a right and ended up at the highest paved point in Washington State.
So a good route! But still hadn’t completed the one that beat me. Nope, never gotten to the top of Chinook Pass!
In Washington, we have the Cascade Mountains that divide Easter and Western WA. I live in Western. there are 5 main passes. Rainey, Stevens, Snoqualmie (i-90) Chinook and White. Chinook has always been my favorite. I camped there as a kid and it takes you in Mt Rainier. Since it is narrow and steep, they close it every year in the winter, and one of the first signs of summer is when it is open.
I was up at 4AM and out the door at 430. It was supposed to be Hot so I wanted to beat the heat! I drove to Enumclaw, famous for the King County fair (which no one attends) and the last real grocery store if you are going camping. I parked at Safeway, and I was Eastbound on hwy 410 by 6!
Its nice, 410 has nice wide smooth shoulders and for most of the trip, the road parallels the White River (named for the grayish white color due to being fresh off the glacier.)
Until you get to the park entrance, its 32 miles of rolling hills, with only one town (if you can call it that) Greenwater. Two stores, a tavern and a porta potty. (Guess which I used!) However, when you leave Greenwater, the scenery starts getting more rustic.
I had to pull over to see Skookum Falls, they aren’t the most spectacular, but they are one of my favorites.
it’s about 12 miles from the entrance of the park to the 5430 ft top of Chinook pass. It’s a steady climb, but luckily for me, it is shaded the whole way. I was passed pretty early on by a peleton of 20 somethings, and two old farts. The O Fs fell out of the pack pretty quick and I ended up passing them later. Of course I was passed by this 75 pound girl with steel cords for legs and some poor guy who was just trying to “Keep her in sight” Not sure if he was stalker or boyfriend, but if he could keep up with her, more power to him!
Sadly Rainier herself was clouded in
The climb was steady, but NOT brutal. I am not sure if I am just in better shape, or it’s just not as hard as I thought it would be. I passed the spot I turned at before and stopped for lunch. And gave myself a bit of a scare. I dropped a Nuun tablet into an empty water bottle. Then as I went digging for the spare water I packed, I heard this loud hissing! I was sure it was a flat tire! Nope, the bottle wasn’t bone dry and it was the tablet. WHEW!
From there on it got a little easier! I hit snow country (it doesn’t all melt till the end of July) and there was a ton of run off going on! This is where being on a bike is nice! I can pull over ANYWHERE and get a picture! Thats how I got theses.
The road starts running into switch back, but being more level I was making better time! Better yet, being surronded by snow was natural air conditioning. VERY refreshing! I came around a corner and saw Tipsoo Lake!
All in all a great ride up! The best was yet to come though!! 12 miles of downhill, no pedaling and hitting 30 + mph! It took just under 2 hours to climb, and 20 minutes to go down! I was smiling ear to ear!
Sadly,the hill ended and it was back to town. 88 miles, 8 hours (including food and picture stops). I’ve decided I need to do more biking in our National Parks, we have 3 within driving distance of my house. Its beautiful, the cars give you room, and it combines my need to ride with my need to be in the mountains! OH!!! and the downhill is a kick in the pants!
And for the record! NO hill I have ever attempted has stopped me!