Saturday, June 14, 2008

A Cold Day in Hell

Tuesday, June 10th. You know the phrase "It'll be a cold day in hell when..." Ever wondered what a cold day in hell looks like? I imagine a lot like this...

Truly total hell.

But first things first, lets start back at the beginning. The morning shower in Skykomish started the day off nicely. We packed all our bags and went to grab some over priced breakfast sandwiches at the only place in town. I got to talk to Mr. Matt for about 10 minutes before we left for our ride. Getting better! We were on the road by about 11:30 after being up at probably 8:30.

We were all geared up. "Waterproof" clothes and my special water proof shoes, but after about 30 minutes we realized it wasn't raining and we took most of it off. I was actually biking with no shirt in the 50 degree sunless weather. Here's a pic of me looking kinda fat. Lets hope that's gone in another 3000 miles.

We were doing pretty decent though, trekking along, although not too fast. It was a moderate uphill. We eventually came to what is called Steven's Pass. The pass is about a 3000 foot elevation increase over 5 miles. In other words DAMN STEEP. Let me give you a general idea. Here are two pictures. See there in the first one? See the line where the trees don't exist? That's the mountain pass. And that's only 1/2 way up the hill! The second picture was when I was at that point, looking back at the bridge I took picture 1 from.

I tried my hardest but still, I'd only last 1/4th a mile to 2/3rds a mile max without needing a break. Surprisingly Josh wasn't blowing past me, he was having as hard of a time as I was. Finally, after what seemed like hours (and actually was hours) we reached the summit. 4061 feet high. 31 degrees. A good amount of snow. Especially for June! All I can say is Stephen's Pass is hell on Earth.

F you Steven's Pass

So I figured "hey, this'll be a breeze now, it's all downhill." Wrong. Mega wrong. Remember Claudia, the lady who took us in two nights ago? She told me a story about a biker who rode up Steven's Pass. On his way down he threw his bike out in front of traffic to stop them, because he needed a ride back down. It perplexed me. Why would he need a ride down? Soon it all made sense.

See, when I was at the summit, I was soaked. I was semi-warm because I had worked so hard.. but soaked. And when a wet body goes flying down a mountain pass at 30 mph's it cools. Quickly. Hypothermically. Frost-bitedly. It was unbearable. I love the cold and I couldn't bear it. I couldn't move my toes. I was quite alarmed as to my general ability to function. I thought I was going to have to pitch camp for an hour just to warm myself. Here's me trying to warm my feet. Three pairs of socks and plastic bags over them did the trick.

Beyond that it was a nice downhill. I literally did not pedal once for 8 miles. 8 miles of 30 mph. A bit freaky on a bike with tires as thick as nickels. It was amazing the change though. West of the Cascade Mountains the sky is always cloudy and rainy and cool. About 10 miles down the mountain pass the sky just cleared up and it was at least 10 degrees warmer. Much much nicer. I mean, look for yourself.

So we're whipping down the mountain when Josh and myself take a little break. After about two minutes Josh goes "What is that? A bear?" Presuming he's playing with me I look down the road, and what the hell do I see but a freaking bear cub crossing the street! Needless to say, we were alarmed. For those of you who don't know, where there's a bear cub, there's a momma bear. And she doesn't take kindly to people messing with, or even coming near her cubs. And there was only one golden rule we had regarding bears... NEVER get between a bear and her cub. So we waiting patiently. Waiting for the mother to cross and join her cub.

Seriously, I wasn't joking. A damn bear! Or for you skeptics out there, it's a bigfoot sighting.

So after about 10 minutes with no sight of the mother we decide hey, lets just go for it. So we start pedaling and right when we get down to the spot (keep in mind the cub is well off into the woods) what do we see to our right? A nice 5 foot tall momma bear staring us down. Holy crap I've never pedaled so fast in my life...

High on adrenaline we made it down the hill fast and at about 6 pm we made it to a nice little 50's style diner called "The 59er Diner." Mmmm yummy food and a good price. God I love eating on this trip. We also struck up some general conversation with two nice people in the booth next to us (who seemed to enjoy my dry sense of humor). After about an hour of talking they walk out of the diner only to return in another minute, asking if we wanted to stay they night. Like angels from Heaven I tell you, like angels.

There names were Jerry and Kathy (that familar to anyone?) and they pretty freaking awesome. After retirement they'd built a real nice place right outside of a cute town called Levinworth and it was a gorgeous place. They hosted us and conversed, even gave Josh a Blue Moon, which I'm sure was luscious. We had a great nights sleep, thanks you two.

Jerry and Kathy- I seemed to have lost your contact info. If you do happen to check this out, please do email it to me again ( Thanks again!

And that sums up a very long post on a very interesting day. More to come soon!

Trip Summary
Day's mileage- 40.04
Total mileage- 130.20

Oh! I almost forgot! I have a tradition of photographing every 100 miles I ride on my bicycle... so here's the first milestone of approximately 35.

1 comment:

MiaFace =) said...

wow, someone actually ENJOYS your dry sense of humor?!