Took off on a tour of the North Cascades Highway on the KLR with my Dad. The highway opened last week and it was the second latest opening on record. We wanted to ride it while we could get the full snow experience. We left my place around 11am or so and caught highway 9 out of Woodinville toward Arlington. Most of the trip up to this point was boring city type driving, however, once we got to Arlington, we turned off to Darrington and were greeted by the start of spectacular mountain views for the day.
We fueled up in Darrington – I didn’t fill up my tank before we got started, and I was starting to get a bit low. From Darrington, we went up toward Rockport and then on to Marblemount. Stopped for a quick bite to eat at a place near Marblemount.
Down the road a bit we pulled over at a viewpoint above the dam to take some pictures. Didn’t wander around too long because we left the electronics (GPS & Spot) out on the bikes. Did get a waterfall picture in.
Cruised toward Rainy Pass and started to see snow on the side of the road. We pulled over so I could change the battery and the memory card on my helmet cam so we were sure to get good videos going over both Rainy Pass and Washington Pass. Had to get a quick picture in while we were there.
The snow was pretty deep going over Rainy Pass – about to the top of our heads, maybe a bit more. Washington Pass was pretty spectacular. Coming down the east side, the snow was incredibly deep where the avalanches had crossed the highway. You go through a hairpin turn, and there is one avalanche chute that crosses the road twice! Did not get any pictures, but should have taken some good videos on the helmet cam – I’ll post them later once I can edit them.
The snow went away pretty rapidly as we descended off of Washington Pass. We decided to pull over for the night a the Early Winter Campground – it is a small campground with 12 sites, just off of the road. It is a nice little campground on a stream, and is located at about 2800’. It was pretty warm when we pulled in- mid 70s or so. Now (at 11:30p in my tent), it is pretty cool.
We set up our matching tents, notice the guard dog hanging out of the one…
We fired up our Jet Boils to make dinner. I had a nice teriyaki chicken dish, and my Dad had beef stew. After dinner, made some hot chocolate and tried to make a fire. We didn’t have any wood with us (kinda hard carry on the motorcycles), but there was plenty of twigs/branches from when they cleaned up the campground. Of course, it was all wet. After two failed attempts at getting the fire started, our neighbor camper took pity on us and brought over a dry piece of wood so we could get our fire going.
Now it is close to midnight, and I’m writing this on my netbook. The space bar isn’t working correctly and it is really annoying me right now . Of course, there is no cell coverage here, so I’m not going to be able to upload this until tomorrow sometime. Well, should probably turn this thing off and go to bed.
Well, shortly after turning off the computer, I ran to the outhouse one last time and the stars were spectacular. A combination of being away from the city lights, a fairly high altitude, and no moon made for awesome viewing conditions. I wish I would have strapped my telescope to the back of my motorcycle (well, maybe not).
The night cooled off quickly. I was in my big down sleeping bag and had it zipped about 1/2 way up to keep warm. I slept pretty well – woke up when it got light, the fell back asleep. Got out of bed for good about 7a, and read my Kindle while waiting for my Dad to get up. He rolled out of the tent about 8:30 or so. After breakfast of oatmeal and hot chocolate, we broke camp and were off for the day.
Our first stop was just outside the town of Winthrop at Pearrygin Lake state park. There are two different campgrounds at the lake. The eastern most one looks like a cool place to take the RV to camp. The boat launch had a dock and good access, so we could tow the boat behind the RV without any issues. The park was having flood issue with some small streams and we had to do some “water crossings”. Fortunately the bikes were up to it (ok, they were only a couple of inches deep).
Next stop was further down the road at Alta Lake state park. This one was not as nice as the last, there were a few areas that had some nice sites, but there was also an area that was basically a big field to camp in – no privacy at all. Did not check out the boat launch here.
We checked out Icicle River RV Park in Leavenworth – Kim and my Dad (ok, maybe me) are doing the Leavenworth 1/2 marathon in October, and this is where we are going to stay. It also happens to be on a stretch of road that is roughly the first half of the course, so we got a feel for what the mountain run is going to be like. We pulled over at the trail head that is the turnaround point for the out and back portion of the race.
From Leavenworth we started for home. At this point it was turning into a long second day. I think we should have stretched this into a 3 day trip and my butt would have appreciated it a bit more. Overall it was a ton of fun and would do it again – could be a cool annual trip to do right after they open the highway.