Exploring The North Cascades

THE CLIMB, THE VALLEYS AND THE DESCENT

The route past this point was entirely new to me as well. I had been on this route by car with friends before, but I did not remember much of the scenery and that was also a summer trip. The landscape and the mood feels very different close to Winter. With excitement in mind, I turned onto the SR20 Highway and opened the throttle. At this point, there was no going back. Next stop is going to be Washington Pass. The destination that helped me plan this entire trip

Now this route is scenic and I loved it, but there is nothing really to talk about. I’ll share some pictures to do the talking.

As I pushed on, it felt like I was getting close to snow fall
Snowcapped mountains behind
snow capped mountains ahead

The deeper I rode into SR20 highway, the colder it got. And I could see the snowy mountains up front and behind me. It felt like it might start snowing any minute and I felt there was some occasional snow as well. The roads were rather empty with very few cars seen in between. It felt like I owned the roads and the entire mountain and then I came across this scene for which I had to stop and take a deep breath. I love a good scenic road and this one comes pretty close to the topping the list of scenic roads I have been on.

The green, the snow and those open mountain roads. Stuff of my dreams…

Continuing on, the next stop was Washington Pass, and as I was getting closer to the way point on my GPS, I could see more snow as well. Snow covered the grass on the road side and it got considerably colder. Cold enough that I was starting to loose feeling in my hands. The heated grips on the nineT was on full blast and it was not really helping me in anyway, rather it gave a strange sensation where the palm was getting sweaty and top of the hand was freezing. My little fingers were frozen stiff and it was starting to hurt as well. Luckily, I could see the turn in for Washington pass, which I was more than happy to take. From the turn in, it is a small drive towards Washington pass outlook parking from where I believe you are supposed to take a small walk to the scenic point. I was so cold that I decided not to get off the bike as the warmth of the engine from the stopped nineT was soothing and I didn’t want to get back on the cold. These pictures were all I could take from there. (Not a bad deal, it gives me a reason to go back)

The Washington Pass outlook Sign. This is where you need to turn in
The outlook is somewhere else, but I did not want to get off the nineT

I changed my gloves to winter gloves – which I hoped would provide more warmth, readjusted all the layers I’m wearing so that they all stayed as tight as possible and got back on the road. The next way point on my map – Winthrop, WA.

The view when getting back on SR20 from Washington Pass Outlook

Winthrop is around 30 miles (~50kms) from Washington Pass. The most notable thing for me here is the wide sweeping left hair pin turn which comes right after Washington pass. It is pleasure to lean in over here and I really wish I had a video of these roads to share. Even with the glove change, my hands were freezing, even more so than before. But the sun was fully out now and I could feel some warmth in the midst of all the cold breeze. So I stopped at a lay-by which looked safe and took some time to soak in the warm sun, squeezed in some stretches to warm the body up and took some photos of the valley. The view was not disappointing.

By this time hunger was starting to set in. So next mission was to get some brunch and get to Winthrop. NineT was also running low on fuel and it was a little worrying because I was not sure if Winthrop had a place which serves Ron-91 fuel or not. The descent down the mountain began and the landscape quickly changed from Snow to Greenery and to barren and dry – but most importantly, it was warmer now.

It got warmer and greener as I descended the mountain. Snow gave way to greenery

A little before Winthrop, I found a small deli which was open. I had a some good hot chocolate – at last – and some good pizza here enjoying the warmth of the heaters. It also gave a chance to rest my clutch hand as it was starting to hurt from the strain. After spending around 30 minutes here I got back on the saddle. It was past noon and I had not even reached the half way point yet. Winthrop was only a few miles ahead and there was still a lot of distance to cover.

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