Epic Road Trip (Day 6)

Published on August 1, 2015

I started the day off with breakfast at the hotel in The Dalles. I walked out of my room and across the courtyard to the restaurant and had to stop for this shot. I wish I'd had my good camera, but I didn't realize what I was about to run into.

With fuel in my body, I got fuel in the bike and started out on the Lewis & Clark Trail (Highway 14) on the Washington side of the Columbia. I will definitely be making this trip again on the bike to explore the entire trail. Lots of history about the Lewis & Clark expedition, great views, and a really fun section of highway.

Horsethief Lake

Horsethief Lake

Great Falls of the Columbia

Great Falls of the Columbia

After leaving the Columbia River behind, I merged onto the highway that would take me into the (much lower) mountain passes and eventually to Yakima. I came onto the Yakama Nation (I really don't know why it's spelled differently than the city, but I'm curious) and it was an easy, twisty climb and descent through the pass to the prairies of central Washington. At one point, I pulled over for a break and had hoped to take a photo of the herd of horses in the field, but my bike started them running and there was no way to get my camera out in time. Bummer.

I'm not absolutely certain, but I got the impression these were wild horses, not domesticated. They were very skittish and I lost sight of them soon after. I settled for just enjoying the scenery and stretching my legs. I still had another 40 miles or so to Yakima.

Once there, I gassed up and made my way to Highway 12, which would take me closer to Mount Rainier. After stopping for lunch at the Drift Inn in Naches (just outside of Yakima), I took off for the pass. Highway 12 was simple, as was the first section of Highway 410 which would take me through Chinook Pass. That changed after I had gained some altitude and I got to Cliffdell, the site of the last gas station for 50 miles (I was good - I checked). The climb was steady and twisty and tons of fun with lots of views of the Naches River, the Little Naches River, and the White River (which, incidentally, really was white).

I reached the crest of the Pass and was ready to start my descent when the lake to one side caught my eye and I had to stop again. I met a guy from the valley where I had just come from who had family in Yuma and we chatted a while about riding, the lakes, great photo opportunities, and some cool places to check out around Seattle. Then, it was time to finish the ride.

The descent from Chinook was a little steeper than the ascent, but nothing crazy like Tioga and Sonora Pass in the Sierras. When I got through Greenwater, where I fueled up again, the trees changed from gigantic lodgepole pine to moss-covered pine and cedar with a thick ground covering. I kept expecting Bigfoot to lumber across the road and the terrain was much like I would expect in the Pacific Northwest.

Shortly after, I began to enter the extreme suburbs of Seattle and I made my way around, through city streets (and concrete jungle traffic) to my hotel. It wasn't a palace, but it will serve as home for the next week. Even after six solid days of riding, I started considering some rides to the peninsula or Bainbridge island. We'll see what the next seven days hold.