2015-08-01 - WA - Day 66 - Winthrop to Diablo Lake
Leaving the campgrounds at Winthrop, I rode with others most of the way to our rest stop at Mazama. At the cool store there, I bought some food to eat. It was a kind of typical tourist store, for people going up into the cascades. It was not cheap but the sandwich I got was good. Following highway 20, we headed up towards Washington Pass. It was a beautiful ride. We saw another group of riders cycling for cancer along the way. There were many stops for photos and I felt in decent shape. Looking for a nice shaded place to stop, I rode up for quite a bit before stopping. I sat down under the shade of trees and munched on my sandwich from the store. Amanda cycled up alongside me and stopped for a break herself. We briefly chatted, I remember talking about snow-covered mountain peaks of the Pacific Crest Trail at whose northern section we were approaching and would soon intersect. I reached the top of Washington Pass where both our and the cancer cyclist group's vans were. Having filled up my water at the halfway break just before, I just snapped a photo before heading down. The road swung us down before climbing back up again to Rainy Pass.
Some people were resting at Rainy Pass. They told me a lot of the others had headed down to Rainy Lake nearby. I parked my bike near the Rainy Pass Campgrounds before heading up the Maple Pass Loop alone. The 7-mile 2000+ feet elevation gain loop brought me through old-growth forests before winding up and around Lake Ann surrounded by high-alpine meadows. The intense sun and high altitude caused some slight dizziness and headache but with the chill of the wind, brief breaks in the shade, and plenty of water, I was never too uncomfortable.
The trail continues up through some of the most amazing mountain landscape I have ever seen as more and more mountain peaks sprout up around me. Eventually I reached the 6850-feet high point of the hike on Frisco Mountain before heading down with great views of past rock slides, cirque, and Rainy Lake. It was an exhilarating hike and well worth the effort.
Hopping back onto my bike, I headed down towards Diablo Lake. The ride was long but quick as most of it was fast and downhill on the shoulders of the smooth paved road. Careful to not go too fast on the winding parts, I also stopped a few times. Stopping to read the signs at the dam, a group of visitors asked me about my journey. Tired and thirsty, I tried my best. They snapped a photo of me before leaving in their cars. Two of them had biked across the country before. A steep curved downhill road brought me into Colonial Creek Campgrounds at the beautiful Diablo Lake. Diablo Lake is famous for its turquoise water, caused by glacial flour in the glacial runoff. A man-made lake, it was formed due to the construction of Diablo Dam.
That night, we slept in the most natural campgrounds yet. A steep half mile up from the Van and Trailer, we had to carry all our belongings up to what looked like a scene out of Jurassic Park- moss-covered uneven ground surrounded by trees and stumps and rocks. It took some effort to just set up camp. Being the last one to the campgrounds, I was ready for bed by the time I finished setting up. Going to sleep, I realized that I had finished all the major passes of our trip. All we had left was the mostly downward journey to Seattle. The amazing hike in the cascades had left me in a great mood and I went to sleep happy.