25th Anniversary Tour - Day 55

08/10/2006 04:27:46 by Administrator

From: Republic, Washington
To: Okanogan, Washington
Mileage: 72

Another day, another stellar bicycling ride with some surprises along the way. We had a short climb (about 14 miles) to go up and over Wauconda pass. Not a lot of challenge, taking it one pedal at a time we were surprised that we had reached the pass so easily. Next we had a 25-mile down hill into Tonasket and into the Okanogan valley. The valley is very arid, except for the Okanogan River and the thousands of fruit trees (apple, nectarines, peaches, pears) that are irrigated from the river. We were very surprised how much this section of Washington looked like Montana with rocks, cacti, dried grasses, sage, and cliffs. . . except, of coarse, the fruit trees!

We had lunch in Tonasket, and this is where route 97 joins route 20, which makes for a rather busy stretch of road. Adventure Cycling has a few side roads that keep you away from a lot of the 97/20 traffic. So far when Route 20 is by itself, and not joined by another route, it is very quiet.

We also had our first dog chase of the trip. A very fast Jack Russell Terrier (picture Eddie on the TV show Fraser) came at us as we tried to reach maximum warp speed. SeeMore was riding into a headwind, and 17 mph was all he was willing to give. The Jack Russell was willing to give 21 mph. The Rear Admiral, with the speed and accuracy of a modern day Annie Oakley, shot the Jack Russell right between the eyes with a blast of ice-cold water from my water bottle. The dog was defeated, and I lost some valuable ice-cold water. . . but ankles were saved in the process! (did I mention I lost some valuable ICE-COLD water?)

There are a number of extremely large forest fires burning north of Okanogan and northeast of Winthrop. The Tripod and Spur Peak fires have burned more than 74,800 acres, or nearly 117 square miles, of national-forest land. They were both started by lighting, and have been burning since July 24th and are only 20 percent contained as of this writing. We could see the huge amount of smoke coming over the tops of the mountains as we rode in the Okanogan valley today (see photo below).

Tomorrow is the Loup Loup pass (elevation 4020) and we are hoping for two non-smoking seats on SeeMore as we travel just south of the fires.