Day 3, Sedro-Woolley to Colonial Creek Campground: 72.3 miles, 3,505 ft. elevation gain, 11.4 mph average speed.
Trip: 191.1 miles (63.7 daily average), 9,413 ft. elevation gain.
I’m writing this post looking at this view.
In addition to the fact that Ted is doing real work as I type this post, which is always a pleasant view, our campsite is right next to a gorgeous lake and I think it was worth pushing through a steep 10-mile climb at the end of the day to get here. The end of today felt pretty steep, but tomorrow we will climb our first two passes. 30+ miles of climbing. Ugh.
We started off from Riverfront Campground (no river in sight, just a bunch of RV campers and a bathroom with white power/swastika graffiti) in Sedro Woolley at 7:52a. After a few miles of residential roads, we entered the Cascade Trail, a well-maintained crushed limestone trail that ran beside the official American Cycling Association (ACA) route for about 22 miles. It was beautiful, but a little slow-going and, at times, a little too rocky and sandy for our taste, so we decided to jump back on the road after about 5 miles.
The road was not very busy this morning and the ACA route took us on pleasant back roads through quaint towns with populations of 100-400 people and only a post office and a rarely open tavern. The whole morning was gorgeous; lots of idyllic pastures and barns with mountains as a backdrop. I enjoyed all of this, but I spent a lot of the morning thinking about ice cream.
We got to the slightly larger (pop. 705) town of Concrete around lunch and were pleased to finally find a post office that was open when we passed so we could ship home some things we’d been carrying since Hawaii. Concrete had just one grocery store that was inexplicably closed at noon on a Tuesday so my dreams of midday ice cream were dashed.
We found a nice spot near the Skagit River (a gorgeous blue-green river that much of our ride paralleled today) to eat lunch and then pushed on to Rockport, where our route veered away from SR 20 to a beautiful forested road with minimal traffic. We took a nice 30-minute break on the side of the road, complete with our comfy camp chairs, grapes, and pretzels, listening to chirping birds and a rushing stream.
As we continued down the road after our break, we heard a few dogs barking and Ted said, “I’m glad we’re not riding the Southern Tier because those dogs would be chasing after us.” Five seconds later, two dogs came sprinting out of their yard angrily barking and chasing after us. Ted maintained perfect composure, as he does, but I sort of panicked, as I do. We were riding uphill at the time so I couldn’t sprint away. My reaction was to sort of yelp helplessly, say, “Ted…help” a couple times, and spew fear pheromones everywhere so that the dogs focused their ire on me rather than Ted. They stopped chasing us once we left their territory, but it sure was an adrenaline rush. Another dog chased after us with a little more persistence about 15 minutes later. Also scary. Back roads come with drawbacks, too, I guess.
We rejoined SR 20 after noon at Marblemount, and spent some time sitting outside the grocery store/hardware store/gas station drinking chocolate milk, eating Hostess cupcakes, and planning the rest of our day. As we left town, we were chased by three more dogs, this time on a major road! Luckily we were cruising downhill at the time so I sped away while Ted tried to talk the dogs down. I am not looking forward to the rural Midwestern areas where I fear this will be the norm.
For the last 25 miles of the day we approached and rode through part of North Cascades National Park. Man oh man. More of that blue-green water and gorgeous old growth forest. I feel like we’re overusing our superlatives trying to describe all of the beautiful scenery we’re passing through. Everything is beautiful, amazing, stunning, etc. I worry that by the time we get to Glacier these adjectives will feel stale and cliché, and then what will we do?
But I suppose that’s one of the main reasons we’re doing this. We spent 10 hours today riding (and resting) in some of the best nature has to offer. We saw beautiful scene after beautiful scene, and it was our standard environment. This stuff is fun.
Food was sort of boring and vice-y today (blocks of cheese, Hostess cupcakes, potato chips), but we did make a nice black bean stew with brown rice, quinoa, carrots, tomatoes, and peppers for dinner.