Northern Tier 2010

July 11, 2010

Tsik — Tsik — Tsik — Tsik (Other Side of the Cascades)

Filed under: Geology, Section 01, Washington — Henry Scott @ 9:00 pm

The buzz of magnetostriction was by replaced the ratcheting sounds of irrigation once I made it over Loup Loup Pass and officially left the Cascades. What a dramatic demonstration of the rain-shadow effect! The hydroelectric power on the western side is derived from the powerful flow of the Skagit, thanks to the numerous melting glaciers and snowfields.

However, after dumping so much precipitation on the westerly side as the prevailing westerlies move air masses through the region, there’s not much left for the easterly side. Instead, the winds that cooled to the point of dropping their moisture as the were forced aloft over the Cascades are heated as they descend the other side — only now they’re dry.

As a result, just about the only green on the eastern side is along rivers or heavily irrigated cropland.

The descent from Loup Loup Pass to Okanagon was the least enjoyable downhill ride I’ve ever done: it was like riding into that unwelcome blast of hot air when you open an oven on an already hot day. It turns out that the temperature at the bottom was pushing 100 F, and there was very little shade to offer relief. It was a hard day for me, but after eating and rehydrating, I’m feeling pretty good.

Prior to ascending Loup Loup Pass, I saw some great scenery and had a good breakfast in Winthrop — the whole town feels like it is straight from a western movie, and there are lots of interesting places to eat. That turned out to be the last touristy town I passed through, but I met two interesting parties in Okanagon: Kevin and Kara from U. W.- Madison, and Chris from Germany. We’re all pretty much following the Northern Tier, and we commiserated about the heat over some Gatorade at the one open shop in town (a convenience store).

I’m camping at Margie’s RV Park (and pottery!) in Riverside tonight, despite my previous determination to avoid private campgrounds, let alone RV parks. But, it has turned out to be a great experience. It is close to a small grocery store with a friendly and helpful clerk, and the park has some good shade, tent sites separate from the RVs a very pleasant proprietor, and showers….all for only $5. Not bad!



  1. Your pictures are wonderful and your blog is so informative–thanks for sharing.

    You have me looking up words–had not heard of the term “magnetostriction”–but I am familiar with that buzz. Looked it up and, along with the definition, there is a sound sample that can be played.

    Comment by Sally — July 12, 2010 @ 6:12 pm


    Comment by Bruce — July 12, 2010 @ 10:17 pm

  3. It’s so good that you are doing this blog! Glad you were at
    a nice campground last night after that hot day. –A retired
    geography prof at IUP told me today about the plaque in Erie honoring
    native son Paul Sligo, who coined the term “wind chill factor”
    –not exactly what you had to deal with today! I then bragged
    to her about your bike trip and she was quite interested.

    Comment by Celinda Scott — July 13, 2010 @ 2:08 am

  4. You were riding through my childhood! Lived in Omak as a little kid and we went to Okanogan and Tonasket often. Learned to ski at Loup Loup! And Winthrop was of course the place to take relatives when they made the long trek to visit! Glad to read your ride is going well–interesting read!

    Comment by Julie — August 3, 2010 @ 8:53 pm

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