Day 4: Sedro Woolley, WA to Newhalem, WA

Wes Malinchock

Today we pedaled up to the base of Washington Pass to set ourselves up for the forty mile climb we have tomorrow morning. Most of the day was an easy ascent along the Skagit River into Newhalem, Washington. The weather was dry, which is already an improvement over yesterday, and we even got some sun as we rode up the valley.

Misty Pacific Northwest mornings

Misty Pacific Northwest mornings

We stopped along the way as we usually do for breakfast, but around lunch time we passed a sign that warned there would be no services for the next 72 miles just outside of Marblemount as we were about to enter the park. Fortunately, there was a small market in town where we stocked up on food for tonight through lunch tomorrow. This was a scary awakening for us. If we had missed that sign and bypassed the last market for 72 miles, we would have had a really rough night tonight and an even harder time tomorrow. We definitely learned to read our maps more closely the day before and plan accordingly.

Now that we are settled in for the night in a Cascade National Park campground, fortunately set aside specifically for bikers this busy Memorial Day Weekend, I keep looking up at the mountains that we will climb through tomorrow. It will be our first pass and first real hard day of climbing, and I have been dreading it ever since we flew over the Cascades on our flight to Seattle as a very vocal "non-climber". I could see the snow capped peaks of the mountains from my window seat, knowing that I would be down between them somewhere in only five days. One skill that I learned on my bike trip across the country in 2013 that has been extremely helpful is being able to put my head down and grind through a tough day. Tomorrow I will wake up knowing that half the day will probably suck, but I know what will eventually push me to the top is knowing that when I finally get up there I will have forty miles of downhill ahead of me.