Riding around Washington
(July 29-August 2, 2010)
A couple of fellows fishing in Alder lake near La Grande, WA. This is on the way to Mt. Rainier National Park.
Mt. Rainier as viewed from Paradise visitor's center at 5,400 ft. The first lodge here was built in 1916. Mt Rainier is 14, 411 feet, a mere 94 feet shorter than Mt. Whitney, CA, the highest peak in the continental US. (Mt McKinley in Alaska is the highest peak in the USA at 20,320 ft.)
Riding south from Mt. Rainier I passed Mt. St Helens which erupted on May 18, 1980 killing 57 people and lowering the mountain's height by about 1,300 feet. Unfortunately there was very heavy fog in the area when I was passing through, making it impossible to take a photograph and almost impossible to ride. This area is very sparsely populated and you can go 20-30 miles on mountain roads without seeing a soul. I was happy when I got to the little outpost of Cougar and had a hot cup of coffee and a bacon and cheese omelet.
Eventually I arrived at the Columbia river, the boundary line between Washington and Oregon. You can almost imagine Lewis, Clark and Sacagawea canoeing their way west in 1805. This view is from Cape Horn (image below). The temptation is to enjoy the view while riding along, but that is an unwise idea on this road.
A few miles east of Cape Horn, and back down off the side of the cliff, is the Bonneville Dam. My trusty KLR-650, loaded up for tent camping, performed flawlessly on this 800 mile trek.
After enjoying a couple of days at a motorcycle rally in Stevenson, WA, near Bonneville, I retuned north and rode up to the terminus of Mt. Baker Highway in the Cascade mountains. This was on a Monday, and the road to the top had only been open since the preceding Friday, July 30. It will close again in a couple of months when the snow starts to fall on Mt. Baker again.
Beautiful views abound on the way up. Notice the lack of guardrails, not that they would help a motorcyclist very much anyway.
Stunning scenery near the top.
I wore my electrically heated vest for the last few miles. Kept me warm and toasty. Mt Baker ski area, near where this photo was taken, received 614" of snow last winter. The record (A USA record, by the way) was set in the winter of 1998-99 when the same area received 1,140" of snow. That's almost 100 feet of snow.
The ride back down was fun too. This road hairpins to the right. A challenging ride made more so by the rocks and gravel that have washed down onto the roadway in places.
A final view of Mt. Shuksan, just east of Mt. Baker, before heading down the mountain in search of lunch.