Friday, June 01, 2012


Just got back from three more days of road riding in Eastern Washington, this time around Winthrop. The above is Big Craggy Peak I believe (please feel free to correct me if I'm mistaken), visible near the end of Falls Creek Road, an 11.5-mile climb I did my first day there. Falls Creek Road gains 2,800 feet and gets you up to about 4,800 feet. Much of the road is paved one-lane forest service road that frankly, is a bit on the roughish chip-seal side. See below:  

But hey, it's the Methow. It's the price you pay for quiet roads through stunning pine forests, not to mention the whole Old West, cowboy-horsey theme. I love it! Falls Creek was the third paved forest climb of the day in a route from my book called Triple Bypass. (Or Master Blaster). First up was Boulder Creek Climb ...

 ... about 7 miles long with 1,500 feet of climbing until at the above point, the road turns to gravel and unless you're on a 'cross bike or mountain bike, you turn around. (My bucket list definitely includes the ride to Conconully.) Not to sound like a broken record but this road too is a bit rough and even sandy in spots. 
No biggie, I ride big fat 25s anyway. Then it was on to Eightmile Road (I think that's what it's called; it's FR 5130) which starts out really steep but ends up being pretty mellow, climbing just 750 in 5 miles.
In all, it was a 72-mile day with 6,000-plus feet of climbing. The following day I drove to Tonasket where, along with meeting Jack Black's mother (or step-mother?) Linda, I climbed the 19-mile hill to tiny (one chair lift, one rope tow) Sitzmark Ski Area.  
Re: Jack Black's mother (or step-mother?), she works in the Tonasket Visitor Center and was very friendly and chatty and told me to publicize the free bike-camping area that they have behind the visitor center. Restrooms 'n' everything. (Google "Jack Black Tonasket" and you find that he donated $10,000 so the Tonasket High School band could go to Disneyland. Or World.)  Here's Linda:
While I was at the Tonasket VC, I met George (below), who's ridden that very Bike Friday all over the world and who was heading about 14 miles up the hill to his home.  
We headed up the hill together and George told me he owns a bunch of land in Winthrop and that he'd be opening a bike hostel there some time in the fall. Cool. Though the entire hill is 19 miles long, it doesn't start getting steep until about the 5-mile mark, which you can see below where the road slants up to the left.   

The last three miles from tiny Havilah (above, with the white church) to the ski are the steepest part of the climb, gaining about 1,000 feet in 3 miles.

Here's the last mile or so of the climb to Sitzmark. The Okanogan Highlands are stunningly beautiful but also fairly remote-feeling.

At the ski area I just turned around and headed back down to Tonasket. I was feeling pretty beat especially when I realized that in less than 24 hours I'd ridden 113 miles with about 11,000 feet of elevation gain. Thus, the following day I awoke feeling knackered, beat and wiped out. I had had grand plans of riding to Washington Pass but all I could manage was a fairly pedestrian pedal up to Sun Mountain and back. Still though, it was really really purty as everything seems to be in the Methow.
Patterson Lake, calm as glass.

Overlooking the Methow Valley.
Another great foray into Eastern Wa. I look forward to my next one!


1 comment:

  1. Nice. That's very cool area of Washington, been there a few times myself.