As I mentioned in a previous post, we are now attempting to follow the Sierra Cascades route through Washington. Well, as Kathleen mentioned in her post, no sooner had we started on the route than we hit a roadblock: the mountain pass we were attempting to cross, Highway 25 just east of Mt. St. Helen’s, was still blocked, so we had a 6-day detour to rejoin the highway on the northeast side of Mt. St. Helen’s. We didn’t mind, as we met Erik, Sara, Annika and Riley, and we had an incredible ride up into the blast zone of Mt. St. Helen’s.
Visiting Mt. St. Helen’s was a moving experience for me and the family. I was especially moved as I taught geography for 12 years, and every year I showed the movie “The Fire Below Us” to my students, which dramatizes the experiences of some of the people caught in the destruction that occurred during and after the Mt. St. Helen’s eruption of May 18, 1980. So I knew the story quite well. But to travel into the blast zone, and look down on the devastated area, was a moving experience. We biked over the Toutle River, which was the sight of a massive mud, lava, water, ice, and tree flow that took out bridges and small communities. We passed one once-beautiful A-frame house that was 3 days from completion when it was inundated in mud and buried in 6 feet of mud. It is still there. An incredible experience.
After Mt. St. Helen’s we headed north to highway 12, then east across White Pass, through the towns of Morton, Randle, Packwood, and Naches. We were amazed at how the landscape went from wet forested in the west to arid and dry in the east, after we passed over the pass. The route in general was stunning. Wide shoulders, low traffic volume, and incredible views of the moutains.
After Naches we headed north through the Yakima River Valley, a windy road that follows the flow of the river, and a fly-fishers’ paradise. That’s where we saw the bald eagles nesting in a high tree beside the river.
After the Yakima River Valley, we headed into Ellensburg, a nice college town with a great outdoors shop! We were able to get the small can of fuel we needed, new bike shorts for Kathleen, and a new ultralight bucket.
End of Part 1!