Starting Location: Easy Pass Trailhead
Ending Location: Winthrop, WA
Lowest Elevation: 1768
Highest Elevation: 5477
Same as the day before, I had to pack up a wet camp after sleeping in a bit longer to try to avoid the rain. This time, the rain actually let up for a while to give me enough time to pack up. This didn't make too much of a difference though, as my tent was still pretty soaked. I've found that drying my rainfly with a camp towel isn't nearly as effective as drying it out in the sun, but at this point I still had yet to see a ray of sunshine on my entire trip!
Starting the day by continuing to climb the mountain was a bit of a harsh warm up for my legs. After a while I finally got into a grove and kept a pretty steady pace. I made it over Rainy Pass (4,855 ft) after about 5 miles of riding. I had a nice little bit of downhill for a while before starting to ascend Washington Pass. During my little downhill sprint, I found out that it can be pretty slick on parts of the road when it is wet and you are going full speed! Sure was a thrill though.
Getting up the rest of Washington Pass was pretty brutal, however it was so incredibly rewarding once I finally made it up. There were so many times during this day that I found myself wanting to give up or hitch a ride to the top in the back of someone's truck, but I kept setting small goals for myself which eventually got me to the top (5,477 ft).
Riding down the mountain sure was a whole lot more enjoyable than the slow climb up. It's a great feeling when you fly by the mile posts with just a couple minutes in between each.
A few miles down the mountain, I encountered my first flat tire. Luckily, the weather had just started to let up as I was descending the mountain so I didn't have to do my repairs in the rain. I had never changed a tube on a bike before this moment, so needless to say I struggled with it for quite some time. My first attempt left me incredibly frustrated after fighting it for a while, so I just put the wheel back on the bike with the flat tire on it hoping that I would be able to make it to a bike shop in the next town.
After riding for just another few hundred meters, I realized that the flat was affecting me more than I thought. I also figured that it was probably bad for the tire to keep riding on it with a flat. With this in mind, I decided to give it another try with a calmer approach. It took me at least an hour and a half to get the whole job done, but at least now I know the right technique for doing it so that it will be a whole lot smoother next time :).
For the rest of the day I enjoyed the downhill ride. I eventually made my way into Winthrop, where I stopped at a local place to get a calzone and beer. As I was leaving the restaurant to head to the grocery store to get food for the night and following morning, I was stopped by a nice man named George who asked me where I was headed. I told him that I planned on getting some groceries then knocking out at least another 10 miles. However, once he offered a place to set up camp for the night which included a free hot shower and a free meal, there was no way that I was going to turn that down.
Deciding to stay was easily the best decision that I've made so far on the trip. George and his wife Patty let me set up my tent just outside of their overnight home that they often rent out (Built by George a few years ago). It was such a pleasure getting to know these two. They are an older couple who have filled their lives with adventure, and continue to do so. They provided me with a ton of really useful information and knowledge about adventure cycling right from the get go and I can't thank them enough for that.
George made us a nice dinner of fishcakes, asparagus, and salad. They made sure that I got enough to each as they know how it is to need the extra calories! The salad was made with fresh greens from Patty's garden at their home in Tonasket and the meal was accompanied by a wine that George made with his neighbor's grapes. We continued to share stories and get to know each other, and later opened a bottle of raspberry wine that was made from the raspberries grown in Patty's garden!
After our conversations I headed out to my tent for the night to enjoy my first night without rain. It was also very pleasant going to sleep feeling clean after my shower that I had taken!