Northern Tier 2010

July 12, 2010

Last Major Washington Passes

Filed under: Geology, Section 01, Washington — Henry Scott @ 8:00 pm

Today’s ride should have been much harder than yesterday, but I got an earlier start, it was a bit cooler, and I got lucky with the winds. I got packed up and left my camp in Riverside around 5:30. It was already reasonably light, but there was a nice blanket of stratus clouds — they slowly rolled back to expose the full-strength sun by about 8:00… just as I was to start my first serious climb from Tonasket (~17 miles from Riverside) to Wauconda Pass.

My heart sank because I feared my early start was for naught, but I had a gentle, and cool tailwind the whole way up. I made good time, and had a great descent to Republic. Republic had been my planned destination for the day, but it was only a little after noon, so I decided to think it over during lunch. I had a “deluxe” burrito — it was huge and smothered in cheese, sour cream and guacamole. Even by my gluttonous standards I thought only an absolute pig would eat the whole thing…. so I did, plus the entire basket of chips. I think the waiter was impressed đŸ™‚

But, there was some thought behind eating so much: I had decided to continue on to cover one more pass for the day and camp at the top, and since there would not be running water, I didn’t want to make a big dinner. I spent a couple of hours in Republic visiting the fossil museum, ranger station and, most importantly, digesting.

During my time in Republic, however, the winds picked up and became quite gusty. I almost went back to my original plan, but I’m glad I didn’t because although shifty, the strong winds were predominantly westerly, giving me a much-appreciated push.

The 18 miles to Sherman Pass still took quite a while, but the views from the top of regrowth after a massive 1988 fire were amazing.

I got a great campsite and look forward to sleeping in the cool 5500′ temperatures here than the incredibly hot conditions of last night at 1000′. Tomorrow I’ll begin with a long, steep descent, and I won’t have another significant pass to get over until Glacier.

As a bit of a P.S., the geology today was incredible. I went through excellent exposures of gneiss, granite, sandstone, glacial till (with an odd assortment rounded rocks from pebbles to boulders weathering out) and even some serpentine. This area has a very complicated history of volcanism, rifting and glaciation over the past several hundred million years. I’ll add just two photos below: one is a nonconformity with gneiss at the bottom and glacial till at the top, and the other is an exposure of serpentine, which marks the location of a major fault.



  1. Looks as if your trip is off to a great start, Henry! Thanks for sharing the photos and observations. It’s going to be a lot of fun for all of us fans to follow your progress.

    Comment by Jerry — July 14, 2010 @ 1:19 am

  2. I am really enjoying hearing of your travels, the road, the geology and the small town adventures. Don’t be shy about commenting more on the bike gear, how well all the preparations are doing, how things like the tent, sleeping pads, cooking etc are working out.

    Comment by stevie.g — July 14, 2010 @ 12:02 pm

  3. Thanks for the postcard. It qualified fro the refrigerator door. What a trip!! Wishing you good luck, safety, great weather and tail winds.
    Uncle Dick

    Comment by Uncle Dick — July 14, 2010 @ 8:12 pm

  4. I read the other day that there is a bill being proposed in California to discontinue the state rock of California because it is linked to diseases caused by asbestos. It is one of the rocks noted in your post. Do you know what it is?

    Comment by George Cass — July 18, 2010 @ 7:14 pm

    • Serpentine is a family of minerals, and some members, but not all, have the asbestos structure which, in some instances (such as mining without respiratory precautions) can be a significant health hazard. A rock made up just about entirely of serpentine minerals is called serpentinite. I heard about the push to remove it as the CA start rock the day after writing about it… Weird timing!

      Comment by Henry Scott — July 21, 2010 @ 6:08 pm

  5. Hi Henry,

    I spent a couple of weeks in Republic long long ago with my uncle — and got there by bicycle! (In from Ephrata, Wash. and out to Portland, Ore. -via Amtrak from San Francisco) Great trip you’re making — I’m jealous.

    Comment by Jeff Sutter — July 29, 2010 @ 4:23 am

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