Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Aug 19 (Day 231) - Methow Valley biking, getting ready for the Cascades crossing.

With White-headed woodpecker ticked, today began the move towards more coastal areas where I hope to track down a large number of Pacific specialties. It is going to take a few days to get through and over the Cascades. Today was the first of these moving days as I biked the 57 miles from Okanagon to Mazama, WA. The first third of the ride was a very challenging climb that left my legs tired for the rest of the day. The descent from this climb was through recently burned terrain. This area was part of the Carlton Complex fire which, although now 97% contained, has burned over 256,000 acres in the eastern part of the North Cascades in the last few weeks. Thankfully there was no smoke to complicate the ride/breathing. The winds really got going in the afternoon; This made the last 25 miles feel much longer as 20 MPH headwinds battered me for several hours. Thankfully the fires are mainly contained or this wind would have caused major havoc on that front. I did not stop to do ay birding as I simply wanted off the bike as fast as possible. Leg cramps killed me today and made the uphill and upwind segments torturous at times. It was not fun, at all. The scenery in the Methow Valley is incredible, but I was too tired and cramped to stop to take any photos of it today - sorry. I will try to get the video camera out tomorrow to show you what I'm seeing along the road.

57 tough miles today to reach Mazama, WA

I started in Okanagon and rode west through Twisp.
I descended through the northwest arm of the big burned area.

Burned trees. Notice the entire slope in the back
is burned too - :(

Scorched earth

Methow river near Winthrop

Old skool town of Winthrop

I am staying at a very interesting place tonight in Mazama, WA. North Cascades Basecamp caters to everything outdoors: hiking, biking, skiing, rock climbing, and even outdoor education. Their location makes accessing areas for all of these activities a snap. Right now there is a group of 21 12-16 year-old rock climbers from Seattle staying here. I am going to help lead an owl walk a bit later, so I will have the chance to interact with them a bit. You can book into this place as either small or large groups, and the owners Kim and Steve seem fairly amenable to working with you to make sure you get the experience you want. I am actually staying with them in their house on the premises. Their outdoor interests include birding, so when they head about Biking for Birds, they gladly offered to put me up for a night (or two!). We head several Barred owls in the woods behind the house as well!

Tomorrow is going to be so challenging that I am not even going to write much about it now. I'm going to need all the sleep and recovery I can get! Basically I have a 75-mile ride with lots of climbing as I cross the last bit of the Cascades. I should also start to get some free birds as soon as I drop onto the western slopes of the Cascades. 530 really isn't that far away. I could even get there this weekend!


  1. Ouch! I hope you can get Rosy-Finch and Boreal Owl on this route and not need to climb another 7,000 feet to Mt. Rainier...

  2. Thrilled you got to see the Methow! That place holds such a special place in my heart. It was so fun to hang out in Winthrop and Twisp for a few months last fall. Hearing about the fires hurts my heart.