Day 2 – High Elevation Gain

Yesterday evening we heard distant claps of thunder. Did they portend things to come? After a pleasant night, we started riding at 7:15am for 8 easy miles to Newhalem. We hoped to enjoy coffee at the store. Deciduous trees obscured the Skagit River. At the store, we learned that Newhalem is a company town of Seattle City Light. The utility built Gorge Dam two miles upriver for hydroelectric generation in about 1920.

We traveled upward to a high bridge over Gorge Creek, thru a dark tunnel along the way. We saw Diablo Dam and rode along an arm of the lake to a view point with a grand view of peaks to the west (see photo). An early lunch disappeared quickly. We continued upward, curving around Ruby Mountain, then along Ruby Creek and Granite Creek. We passed many waterfalls- tumbling almost to the highway. About 3 pm, a storm rolled in and it rained hard for a half hour while we rode. Our rain jackets kept us dry from the waist up. The last few miles to Rainy Pass (4,855 ft.) tested my mettle- but not so much for Betsy.

At 4 pm we reached the foggy pass and ate the rest of our lunch. I walked over this pass in my 2014 PCT hike on my way to Canada. The route lost 500 ft. of elevation, then we climbed slowly (me) and more quickly (Betsy) for 1,200 ft. to Washington Pass. The steep descent passed by several avalanches. After a quick 10-mile descent, we stopped at the delightful Early Winters USFS campground in the warm and dry Ponderosa pine zone. Today we gained 6,500 ft. of elevation over 70.4 miles in 10.5 hours. My rear end hurts.

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