First tracks on Washington Pass

The Washington Dept. of Transportation closes SR 20 over Washington Pass each winter. On Thursday, they announced a closure over the weekend, as a winter storm was expected.

I was quite grateful for this decision, as I was looking for a place to bike on Saturday! The weather forecast was for a lot of rain below 3000′ and several inches of snow up high. Even if that meant no views, I really wanted to go for a snow bikeride.

Screen Shot 2016-11-20 at 9.20.06 PM.png

Ross Dam to Washington Pass. Click for GPX.

The forecast for rain held true at the start. I dressed warm for the beginning as there are about 4 miles of downhill before the continuous climb to Rainy Pass starts.


But, not an hour later it got warm and sunny. I wish I would have brought my sunglasses while I was staring into the wet, glaring road. Last year, it was warm along this section, as well, and I was riding in shorts and shirt, only. This time, it wasn’t quite so warm, but still very pleasant. Without snow, I decided to air up my tires and make them roll a bit faster. The rear tire started to develop a leak – drads. I had problems with the rear at home, but I thought it finally sealed. Half expecting to have to go home soon, I put the pump away and continued. The air was making a hissing sound escaping through the spoke nipples.


But, the tire pressure seemed to hold when I checked it a mile up. I added some more air, and called it good. The problem is that it’s hard to tape a 100 mm -wide rim with a deep channel in the center. The center channel makes for easy tire mounting, but hard to tape the entire rim profile without wrinkles.


Why did a bring a fatbike today? The answer was found just past 3000′ elevation, where the snow stuck to the road. Maybe an inch thick, only, but so pretty! And my studded tires stopped making that awful clawing noise. Just easy blissful riding on snow. First freshies of the season! A yelp may have escaped under my breath.


And it’s not even a thick snowstorm as it was promised! Sun, clouds. What a day!  Only the headwind was a bit tough at times.




Last time the snow was deep and slick here, and I stopped for a lunch break. Today it’s easy and I eat bagels on-the-go.


I liked this creek flowing over the broad granite table top.


The last bit up to Rainy Pass went quickly. A look back at the track of my bike tires in ~3″ deep snow. Last time I had been postholing for an hour up to this point.


2 pm, the rear tire is holding air, and the snow is easy.20161119_13430820161119_134340

Let’s check out Washington Pass. Past this point it’s a bit downhill, which deterred me last time. This time, I glide through the snow, bagel in one hand, and am on the lookout for the next photo.


I am the sole goofball out here and count myself lucky to have the time, support and resources to do these backcountry explorations.

I try to stage a cool bike shot, but only capture a falling bike.


It’s quite a headwind riding up the last mile or two, but still rideable. Not too cold.


Plenty of traction, snow’s about 4″ deep, reaching maybe 6″ at the top – that’s since plowing stopped Thursday night.


The top offers almost no views, and I bundle up and put in chemical toe warmers for the long way down (there’s only a bit of a climb up to Rainy Pass); 4000′ of downhill.


The way back was uneventful and cloudy.


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2 Responses to First tracks on Washington Pass

  1. mujozen says:

    Looks like a perfect day! Congrats…jealous!

  2. 2wheeltrails says:

    It was great. Hope you get out there, too!

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