As mentioned in this thread, the Cascade highway was open for business this past Thursday at 0800 am.
I will start by saying that it is a must do experience at this time of the year. However it can be extremely risky. As always what is beautiful is generally also dangerous. Read on to find out why.
Since the forecast was officially good for Sunday, I decided that it was time to go check out the scenery early on the season. I have done this road a couple of times before, but always late in the summer.
2 buddies accepted my invitation and tagged along, despite some skepticism up to the last hours.
Let me tell you a few facts:
- Little to no traffic (Only 4 cars were overtaken between Marblemount and Winthrop. That is 160Km approximately.)
- No cops whatsoever except within Winthrop city limit. The usual marshal and a buddy in the 25MPH zone
- Perfect pavement with very little snow water running across the lanes.
- Not a single pothole
- A bit of salt especially near the summit.
- 40F aka 4 deg C the lowest temperature recorded, and not even at the summit.
- Summer like condition in Winthrop.
We met at the Port Mann Scale at 0830 am.
Quick wheelie after scaling the bike.
I waited there for about 10 mins, and I easily saw 20 bikes of all sizes and shape zooming past. This was sure sign for a great riding day I thought.
We decided to head down to Sumas and travel to Sedro Woolley. We could not see Mt baker at that time, nor any kind of peaks anywhere during that section. In fact it was pretty cold and gloomy. But no rain. I was getting nervous that it was a bad call. But somehow we ended up in Sedro, and looking East down the Skagit valley, some bright clouds were visible.
I thought of turning away, and give up, but not before riding the south side of the river as recommended by many on this site.
Half way to concrete/rockport, the skies opened up. Temperature rose sensibly through the visor opening.
Form then on it was just a perfect sky and a perfect road.
A quick stop for gas in Marblemount made me realize that we were not alone. Bike where appearing from everywhere. Obviously somebody else is checking on the news.
First classic stop at Diablo lake to enjoy those snow cap summit.
The colors are so different at this time of the year. I think that some organism strive in summer in this water turning the lake green.
Now it is really dark.
A panoramic view from the viewpoint.
The road up to Washington pass was done at a reasonable pace. I wanted to get up there fast enough to get the best light on the east side slopes.
So no more stopping until the summit.
I was kind of hoping that the visitor center road would have been cleared too. Last time I was up there I squeezed the bike around the gate. Not this time apparently ;-)
Thanks to this snowblower six week efforts, we are now able to enjoy this road.
Finally we reached the prize of the day... Washington pass East side awesome vistas.
Here coming down to the switch back.
Some of the rock face near the pass itself.
Riding the switch back under perfect conditions.
You might have to move your head around your LCD screen a little bit. But you should be able to see the tracks left by skiers on that great slope.
There was not too many of them. But it sure look like a ton of fun.
The sun was cooperating fully at that point above the switch back.
This resulted in a 50F aka 10 Deg C temperature. Totally acceptable.