Tuesday, May 6, 2014

North Cascades Highway

Being the northernmost pass over the mighty Cascade range and peaking in excess of 5000 feet, the North Cascades Highway closes every Fall and reopens each Spring due to snowfall and avalanche chutes running where the road is cut. When the DOT starts plowing the road in Spring, they keep the gates closed at both sides of the pass and plow up the road, leaving it clear of motorists up to where the crews have cleared.

The parking lot for the Ross Lake Trail, beyond which the gate closes the road to motorists.

At a certain point in the Spring, the legs have enough miles in them and the snow is cleared enough to begin contemplating longer alpine rides.  I've been doing some of the shorter steeper climbs around Seattle where I live, but climbing for more than 20 miles straight is another thing entirely.  The legs started to complain, but the only solution is to keep going and hope that the next time, they will be more accustomed to uphill efforts of this length.

Starting to get up to the snow line.

This is a beautiful and mostly steady climb.  On this spring day, the sun shone, yet it also never really stopped raining.  As I made my way up the grade, it was clear to see where the avalanche zones are located by the rock shaped pock marks in the road.

As I got higher, so did the snow and the views.

I've ridden this pass before, but with vehicular traffic, and it was quite amazing to ride without fears of getting buzzed by cars and RV's.

The end of the road.
I enjoyed riding this route sans autos so much that I checked in on Monday to see if there would be another spring weekend to ride it.  Sadly, the report was that the road would be open to all vehicular traffic again starting Thursday, May 8, but it was lucky for me that I got at least one car free ride up the North Cascades Pass in this year.