But, let's back up a bit. I left Shady Firs shortly after 8:00. The owners who, at first, seemed rather gruff, were my newfound friends by the time I left. They gave me back 1/3 of the camping fee and offered me ice for my water bottles.
It's a tough go being an RV Park owner in a place that doesn't really have a lot to offer (I was the only person staying there). They said the RV traffic has really fallen off in the last few years. People just aren't going. Unfortunately for them, I don't think it's so much a lack of RVs out on the road as it is the 700 site Cascade Peaks RV Park just down the road. When I rode by this morning, there seemed to be quite a few RVs there.
Although I was climbing from the beginning, the miles from Randle to Packwood were pretty easy. I got a glimpse of Mt. Rainier (I would see much more, later).
I thought this made for a nice photo.
When I arrived in Packwood, I wanted to see about some wifi to post the last two days of blogs. The library was not open (closed Mondays, as small libraries frequently are). However, someone was kind enough to leave the wifi on. I was able to stand outside and access the Internet. I noticed I wasn't the only one with this idea. There was a person sitting in a pickup with a laptop balanced on the steering wheel.
From Packwood the climbing began in earnest. I turned on my music at the junction of US 12 and Hwy 123, and settled in for the long 12 mile climb to White Pass.
I stopped at the Palisades Viewpoint.
I'm not sure why it's called the Palisades, but it is a cool looking vertical wall of rock.
At about 12:30, I parked at a large pullout and made myself some lunch. Same as yesterday, peanutbutter and jelly, only this time I didn't stick around to eat an apple because the mosquitos were having me for lunch!
The next viewpoint was the Mt. Rainier Viewpoint. Indeed it was!
Looks like a postcard!
I continued climbing, ever so slowly ticking off the tenths of miles; going from shady spot to shady spot. I didn't stop too long in any one place, because as soon as I did, the mosquitos were there to suck my blood. I had already donated quite a bit!
Finally, the top of the Pass came into view!
It had taken me just over 6 hours from Shady Firs! Whew!
I spent almost an hour at the gas station/mini-mart/restaurant. I succumbed to a sugar dump (a practice I did previously in the Southern Sierras) of 32 ozs of Gatorade, a Reese's Nutrageous, and a Snickers. The gal had me fill my water bottles at the sink in her office (she felt the bathroom sink was too "germy").
Now I had the reward for my climbing (some may think the sugar was the reward)--the downhill!
Gotta love that!
There were some scenic spots that I had to document on the way down.
Clear Creek Falls Lookout
Yep, going all the way down!
As I was descending, I was thinking about where I should stop and call it a day. I had wanted to get as close to Naches as possible, but that was 30 more miles. If they had been all screaming fast downhill miles, then maybe I could have made it. But, there was a semi-longish flat section along Rimrock Lake.
My dilemma is that I don't want to camp in the Yakima River Canyon tomorrow. I want to get all the way through it to Ellensburg.
At 52 miles I called it a day at Willow Campground in the Wenatchee National Forest. My campsite is right on the Tieton River. To the best of my knowledge, there is no one else in the campground. There is water (besides the river). It's a hand pump. I checked to make sure it worked before I decided to stay. Of course, there are no showers. Since there is no one else here, I stripped to my birthday suit and washed all the sweat off in the river. Someone left a nice bathing place next to my campsite.
I'll be rising early tomorrow in order to get through the canyon before it gets too blistering hot. Afterall, this is Eastern Washington where the sun shines and the temps climb!