The start time for this ride was 7:00 AM at The Grove of the Patriarchs which is about a one hour and forty minute drive from our house. I wanted to get there early, so the plan was to leave our house by 5:00 AM. I had packed up all of my gear in the van the night before; so things went smoothly, and I was on the road on time.
|Driving through Enumclaw at 5:25 AM...|
|The scenery just getting there can be pretty spectacular if you are paying attention at 5:35 AM (which I, usually, am not)...|
Things went better than expected, and I arrived at the Grove of the Patriarchs Parking Lot at 6:20 AM (40 minutes early - perfect!!). To my surprise, there were already five other vehicles there - AND FOUR OF THEM BELONGED TO PUYALLUP CYCLOPATHS. Scott, David, Adam, and John greeted me with big grins on their faces. Les rolled in not long after that. We gave him a hard time about being "late" even though he was still 20 minutes early...
|The parking lot was dominated by Cyclopath vehicles at this hour...|
|John getting ready...|
|Scott - ready to go...|
|"Late" Les - smiling as usual...|
Soon, we were heading out and crossing the Ohanapecosh River Bridge which is right next to the parking lot...
|Ohanapecosh River: up river view...|
|Ohanapecosh River: down river view...|
We passed the Ranger Station on the east side of the national park, turned left on hwy 123, and headed up the south side of Cayuse Pass. Soon, different groups had formed according to their climbing speed. David had disappeared up the road. Les and John were visiting their way up the climb together; and Les, Rex, Scott and Mike were visiting and making their way up together.
Before we knew it, we had reached the top of Cayuse Pass (the visiting helped, and we were climbing pretty fast). From there, we turned out attention to climbing into the clouds (literally) up Chinook Pass. At the top of Chinook; we stopped, ate and drank, and took some photos...
|View of the road heading down the east side from Chinook Pass...|
|Les on Chinook Pass...|
|Scott, John, Adam, Rex, David, and Mike in the clouds on Chinook Pass...|
It was pretty cool at this hour on Chinook Pass (high thirties or low forties), so we put on an outer layer of vests or jackets and took off down the east side. The road had been resurfaced which made the high speeds (up to 40 mph) on the upper part of the descent smooth and fun.
Soon, we had descended far enough that we were out of the clouds and into the sun which made for more comfortable temperatures. We regrouped at this point and rode in a paceline for approximately 20 miles to Whistlin' Jack's (a combination of gas station, convenience store, and lodge) where we ate, drank, refilled water bottles, and hit the bathroom.
After a relatively brief stop at Whistlin' Jack's, we continued east toward the junction of Hwy 410 and Hwy 12 (near Naches). This 20 mile section is a gentle downhill (following the Naches River). It is perfect for having too much fun in fast pacelines and using up energy that will be needed on the long (~30 miles), gradual climb up the east side of White Pass (I knew this, but I did the fast paceline anyway - and paid for it later on White Pass). This section is, also, interesting because of the relatively sudden change in the scenery. You are riding along through mountain forests; and, then, before you know it you are suddenly in these arid surroundings...
|Just after turning onto Hwy 12 and heading toward White Pass...|
After turning onto Hwy 12, it is about 14 miles to our second food, water, and bathroom stop on the trip - The Trout Lodge and Restaurant (sorry, no photos). After refilling our supplies, we continued the climb toward the summit of White Pass. We (Les, Scott, Rex and I) started feeling the effects of our earlier exertions before we got to Rimrock Lake which meant that we still had 16-17 miles of climbing before reaching the top - ugh. After Rimrock Lake; Les, Scott, and I (Rex had fallen back a bit) decided to form a "relaxed" paceline to help us conserve energy by keeping us out of the headwind as much as possible. We proceeded up the remainder of the climb in this fashion and were pretty spent by the time we reached the convenience store at the top of the pass.
After regrouping at White Pass (and replacing our diminished supplies of food and Gatorade), we sped down the west side of the pass. At the bottom, we turned onto Hwy 123 which climbed for about six miles before returning us to our starting point at Grove of the Patriarchs.
|The parking lot at Grove of the Patriarchs was packed upon our return...|
I really enjoyed this ride (most of it - at least) and this group of riders. It was exhausting, but worth it.
To see all of the photos from this trip, click on the following link:
The next ride on our schedule is RAMROD on July 26th. Can't wait!!!