Monday, February 23, 2015

North Cascades Highway 2015

I took my first trip of the year into the higher mountains to see what the status of the North Cascades Highway was.  The road is closed to motorized traffic at milepost 134 every winter, and reopens once it's been plowed all the way through and over Rainy and Washington Passes. This happens at different times each year depending on snowfall and avalanches, and there really is no way to know how far you can go without just getting out there and going.  Part of the appeal is riding this beautiful stretch of road without the cars, RV's and motorcycles which are endemic to it once open.

This year's winter has been both warmer and dryer than usual, and hence, I was exploring the route much earlier than I have in the past.

Looking down to Ross Lake on a beautiful, sunny February day.

There was a rock slide covering about half of the road about half of the way up the 12 miles it was navigable by road bike, and a couple of icy patches where water runoff crossed the road in the shade, but it was a wonderful day for a ride.

Climbing ever closer to the snow line.

Eventually, all good things must end, and after an initial crossing of snow across the road, the second snow field was much longer (and would only continue getting more so the further I climbed) so this was the point I turned around.

The proverbial end of the road.