Brianís Cross-USA Bicycle Tour
Day 8 - Monday, June 25, 2001
The rain had stopped before sunrise, but the outside of the tent was still wet. At least it wasn't wet inside like last year! So I wiped off the standing water from the rainfly, walked to breakfast, and let the sun do the rest of the work - when I came back all was dry, and I packed everything up and I was on my way.
Republic is an old mining town - I wish I had more time to explore it, but it would have been a steep uphill from the camping area - need I say more?
A later start today was a good thing, since it was 45 degrees when I started breakfast, but already up to 50 when I finished. Sort of like winter in Southern California! I think the town of Republic is located at 1500-2000 feet elevation, explaining the low morning temperatures.
Keith passed me on the climb to Sherman Pass - we exchanged hellos but that's about it, as he was cranking up the hill. Later Sharon passed me in their car and honked a hello.
The climb was steep and nasty, making this the toughest of the five passes in Washington state. There were a lot of logging trucks in both directions, but to their credit they are excellent drivers (certainly better than the RV crowd, in general), and I had no problems with them.
The climb went through areas that were damaged by the big fire of 1988 that destroyed over 20,000 acres. You can still see the fire damage - there's even an official lookout from a rest stop.
What I did have problems with was the weather on the climb. While approaching the pass, the summit clouded over and it started to drizzle. A thermometer at the pass revealed that it was 40 degrees at the summit. Once I crested the pass, a headwind picked up, and I had to put on a lot more clothing, including digging out my full-fingered winter gloves so my fingers wouldn't get numb on the descent. The ground was pretty wet, indicated that it had rained pretty hard earlier, but it had subsided to a light drizzle by the time I was going down the hill.
At the bottom, WA 20 joins US 395 (yes, the same one that's in California) to cross the Columbia River, and the two routes stay together for about 10 miles until Colville. Traffic picks up here, there's businesses on both sides of the road - I didn't have any problems, but it's not the kind of riding I'd like to do when you're tired at the end of a long day.
I found a camping spot at the Stevens County Fairgrounds (another county, another fairgrounds...). I'm the only tent, there's a bunch of RVs, some of which have been here over a month, despite the supposed two week limit.
Colville was a bigger town than I had expected, so I didn't think I'd run into Keith and Sharon. I did, though, since as I was leaving a restaurant they were just going in. Turns out that Keith got caught in the downpour at the pass, and didn't have enough clothes to keep warm and dry, but luckily Sharon had backtracked to get him. Keith also bumped into the two mystery tourist we saw yesterday from the car, although I didn't find out their ultimate destination.