The main event today was to ride over Elk Pass on FR 25, to go once more over the Cascade range to the drier east side. We were looking forward to some dry weather. The only problem was FR 25 was closed.
The road was closed because it wasn’t entirely clear of snow at the summit. But how much snow were we talking? The day before I talked to the owner of the general store and campground where we stayed. He said there was still about two miles of unplowed road. A cyclist had come through a few weeks earlier when there was still ten miles of unplowed road. Ten miles of hiking your bike through snow sounded terrible. But two miles? Two miles was doable.
It turned out two miles was a bit of an underestimate. We figured we walked in snow for about four miles, but the ride to the snow was worth the discomfort of trudging through it.
After about five miles from the campground we arrived at the gate barring motor vehicles from continuing up the road. That means we had the whole road to ourselves for 20 miles until we reached the gate on the other side of the pass. It was fantastic. A heavy mist blanketed the tops of the firs and the air was nearly still. It felt like we were in a scene in one of those post-apocalyptical movies where we were some of the few survivors. We saw elk scat on the road. We saw bear scat.
Then we arrived at the snow. We quickly learned that pushing a loaded bike through snow isn’t as fun as it sounds. The front wheel would sink into the wet upper crust while the back wheel would slip around in random directions. You had to simultaneously push the bike forward while pulling the front wheel out of the gullies it was creating all the while trying to keep your own feet underneath you. It was a full body workout.
Once we cleared the snow we were rewarded with a fun descent pretty much all the way to Randle, where we landed at a dated but affordable motel. All in all it was an excellent day of touring. I’d prefer not to hike my bike through snow again but if the effort guaranteed miles of beautiful closed roads it would be worth it.