- Day 5, July 19: 39.5 miles, total miles: 244.8 – bike on rural roads, Forest Service roads paved, gravel, and very rocky
- Parks, Trails, & Places of Significance: Reecer Creek Canyon, Lion Rock, Blewett Pass, cache #1
This morning we had coffee with Steve and the kitties. Then it was time to pack up and get on the road. After yesterday’s taste of the head winds we reevaluated everything we’d planned to take with us and shed a few pounds of gear we could pick from Steve and Anita after we finished. Figured less weight on our bikes would make a difference on our first big elevation gain day of the trip (5,000+ feet).
We peddled out of Ellensburg amid suburbs, farm fields, and decent road shoulders to join up with Reecer Creek Road. Then we began the gradual uphill slog with the wind in our faces. Blackbirds and horned meadowlarks sang in the pastures. We’d watch flocks rise together, stopped in flight by the wind and sink back down to the ground – so much effort and just a few feet gained. We felt for them!
We kept the gears low and just kept spinning. Stopping where we could find windbreaks -behind a volunteer fire station and in a ditch. Eventually the road turned onto the winding, twisting up hill segment of Reecer Creek Road. We got out of the wind and started to go up hill in earnest.
Sagebrush turned to willow thickets. Willows transitioned to ponderosa pine and Douglas-fir forests. The road shoulder spilled over with fragrant wild rose and mock orange. Chipmunks scurried across the road oh so speedy with their parkour moves. We’d take brief stand up breaks every couple of switchbacks to suck in water, inhale calories, and take in the beautiful views. The vantage point and landscapes seen along the road are oh-so-worth the effort.
Then we kept going up, Up, UP. The road winding into cool montane forests of lodgepole, grand fir, and spruce. Some stands silver with the snags from the 2012 Table Mountain fire. Such contrast from the mornings hay fields and sagebrush.
Late afternoon and we were pushing our bikes up the rocky gravel roads that I was impressed our Subaru Forester had made it up the week before (water caching). Always getting closer to the top. By 4-something we’d gone 20-ish miles, gained 5,200+ feet and made it to the top of Table Mountain! No records, but it was beautiful to be in the sagebrush meadows looking out to Rainier (Tahoma) and Adams (Klickitat) to the south and their vast domains, the Stuart Range and Wenatchee Mountains to the west, and the Entiats to the northeast. We took a break at Lion Rock to admire the landscape.
Time to get a moving, we got on our bikes for a some somewhat technical (at least for a beginning mountain biker like myself) ride along some rolling hills with thick forest interspersed with wildflower meadows. Eventually we got back to nicer gravel and started the fast down hill to Blewett Pass. Hours of uphill huffing and puffing exchanged for minutes of breezy downhill exhilaration.
At the pass with the beautiful, long slantly light of alpenglow we paused long enough to safely cross busy Highway 97. Then we started peddling uphill (again!) to our cache spot near Old Pass Hill. After a few surprises, we reached our cache just before 9 pm and started a flurry of tired efficiency. Found our gear, food, and water (2 gallons each for the next 1.8 days with no water on route). Sorted gear. Repacked. Chained our bikes to a tree. Ate food. And were camping for the first time on the trip by 10 pm.
It felt good to fall asleep looking up at the stars and listening to the breeze rustling in the trees.