Friday, July 14, 2017

Stevens Pass

The old Cascades Highway between Scenic and Stevens Pass doesn't get much use these days, since it's closed a mile or so up Tye Creek and there's only a foot bridge. But you can drive in from either direction. On a bike it's great, especially if you ignore the uphill aspect. I had the road almost all to myself - all 6 miles and 1400 vertical feet. It was very bikable, even for me, although I wasn't going awfully fast. Maybe next time I'll try to ride up from Skykomish.

I hung out on the patio at the Stevens Lodge for half an hour, texting M in SF and watching the mountain bikers. Summer at Stevens looks much like Stevens in the winter, except the snowboarders have been replaced by bikers (probably some of the same people).

The ride back down the hill was fast and easy and fun. Again, I had the two lane road all to myself. I did break it up by taking the gravel side trip to Wellington on the old railroad line.

Wellington marked the west entrance of the original Cascade Tunnel from 1900 until 1929, when the new tunnel was built lower on the hill. It's known for the avalanche in 1910 that killed 96 people trapped in trains stuck in the snow. I had read Gary Krist's White Cascade, about the Wellington disaster, back in 2010, exactly 100 years after the event. The spot is all forested now and despite good interpretive sings, it's hard to imagine the town, let alone the bare slopes that allowed for the landslides.

On the drive back out, I stopped at the west end of the new Cascade Tunnel. I was hoping for a train, but no such luck. It was only 11:30. I pondered whether to drive back into Seattle or whether to continue east and do the big North Cascades loop.

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