Monday, June 27, 2011

To Cayuse Pass and Crystal Mountain

I rode up toward Mount Rainier a couple weeks ago from Black Diamond, but didn't turn up toward Sunrise. Instead, I stayed straight and up toward Cayuse Pass. I hadn't been there on bicycle before and maybe only once by car. The Elk, down low due to the super-heavy snowfall this year said hello.

The road to Chinook Pass was closed. I'd have cycled up a ways anyway to see how far a cyclist could go, but the rangers were right there in the parking lot making it clear I couldn't.

They told me they were expecting the pass to be open by the July 4th weekend, but other such deadlines had come and gone. Turns out they got it right as it opened on June 23. Such is the way with these extraordinary snows this year. If you contrast with this list of historic opening dates for the passes, it gives you a sense of the awesomeness of the snowpack. Here's another link that describes what it takes to clear the high roads.

At the summit of Cayuse Pass at the same parking lot, looking the other way.

After descending form Cayuse Pass I took the road up to Crystal Mountain Ski Resort. See the sun-worshipping skiers?

When I asked how late the ski resort would be open the clerk at the convenience store said she had no idea. As far as she knew it was open to skiers for some time now. According to this link, weekend skiing continues at least through the 4th of July!

Thank you, state workers, for clearing the passes in the Spring (or even Summer this year!), and for keeping them clear in the weeks leading to closure. As well, the passes we keep open year 'round require constant plowing, salting, marking, etc. I understand this to be dangerous work at times.

Chinook Pass clearing crew from 2006 photo, courtesy of Washington State Department of Transporation.
 We appreciate your work on our behalf. Yet another example of what government does and which we often take for granted. Rugged individualism only gets us so far; at times our best or only alternative is to collectivize our efforts. That's what we call government of, by and for the People. Go Government! Thank you for your work!

Keep it pointed downhill,