Northern Tier 2010

July 13, 2010

Sleeping in the Rain

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


Despite the high winds and cool temperatures up on Sherman’s overlook, I went to bed without installing my tent’s rainfly. I did this so that if I awoke in the middle of the night, I could look up at the stars (my tent is entirely bug netting, except for the floor and fly). I realized that the high winds could bring some rain, so I went to bed with the rainfly close at hand.

I woke up at least four times during the night: the first indeed gave me a chance to look at the stars; the second I noticed clouds had rolled in; the third is just a vague memory, but I recall wondering from where the little spritzes of water were coming, yet I let myself fall back to sleep (?!); and during the fourth I realized that it was drizzling, and that my sleeping bag was already getting wet. Clearly, I underestimated how tired I was after the two climbs from yesterday!

It turned out to be quite hard to install the fly in the dark, but the fear of letting my warm-weather down bag get any wetter had me quite motivated. I was able to stay just warm enough for the rest of the night, but I wasn’t exactly snug. This was a dumb mistake I don’t plan on making again.


When the sun came out this morning I finally got comfortably warm, so I slept in a bit. Once I got out of the tent I was cold again due to the high winds, and since I had a long descent ahead of me, I bundled up with multiple layers, top and bottom. I even wore the hood from my rain jacket under my helmet. Starting the steep ride down so bundled up with cold, gusting wind made me feel like I was jumping out of an airplane. But, I stayed warm and enjoyed the 18 or so miles down to the Columbia River, and the (relatively) harsh conditions of last night quickly faded from my immediate memory.


The rest of the day was uneventful. The scenery along the Colville and Pend Oreille rivers was very pretty but, unfortunately, most of my photos don’t do it justice — there were lots of gorgeous, bright clouds today, but I had a lot of trouble getting good exposures because the clouds were so much brighter than the landscape. As a result, either the land would be too dark, or the sky would be washed out. The image above is one of the few exceptions for which the lighting was just about right.

It has been very interesting to slowly move from one river valley to the next, with mountain passes to mark the transitions. Yesterday, the Kettle Range (and Sherman’s Pass) brought me out of the San Poil river valley, and today I entered the Columbia river valley. My route has been mainly following State Road 20, which meanders along the smaller streams and rivers that eventually lead to the major rivers I just mentioned.

I had a relaxing visits in both Kettle Falls and Colville, both of which are on the Colville river flowing towards the Columbia. I continue to be struck by how friendly and helpful people tend to be. I’ve worried a bit about getting lonely on this trip, but it turns out I spend a lot of time talking with people. Just about any time I stop, someone will approach me, and we’ll talk for a good ten minutes.


Anyway, I ultimately pushed on to Iona, with my route taking me along the Pend Orielle River for a total of 85 miles. There was a decent climb between Colville and here, which made it so I could both start and end the day with nice descents.

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3 Comments »

  1. By the way, the first picture has nothing to do with Sherman’s pass or the Kettle Range (I took it much later in the day), but I wanted to open with a photo, and it shows the vast cloud cover that was present throughout most of the day.

    Comment by Henry Scott — July 14, 2010 @ 3:36 pm

  2. Great photos (even the cloudy one :-p) and it sounds like your trip is going well thus far.

    Comment by Lauren — July 14, 2010 @ 5:30 pm

  3. This continues to be so interesting. I liked the practical details about
    the rainy night. Would be so useful for people contemplating a trip like
    yours to read. –Intrigued by Lake Pend Oreille because of the name, which
    I knew to be French. “Hang Ear.” I wondered if that had to do with an
    earring found, or a detached ear hung someplace. Figured it meant French fur traders or
    explorers had been there, and the article found by Googling said it was
    indeed so named by a FFT who called it that because the lake was shaped like
    an earring, or because local Indians wore earrings.

    Comment by Celinda Scott — July 14, 2010 @ 9:43 pm


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