The Cascade Mountains by 1974 Norton Commando
(Page 3 of 5)
Now, the suburbs are unavoidable, but I stay in the foothills as much as possible, rolling south on Route 203 through open fields of swaying golden grain toward Duvall, Carnation and Fall City. At Snoqualmie, I join the weekend recreation traffic through Maple Valley and Black Diamond to Enumclaw, a town that sounds as if it ought to be an anagram.
If I’m traveling through Washington in late Spring or early Fall, I always check the WSDOT website for road closures, but as it’s July I’ve foregone this precaution. That was a mistake. As I ride out of Enumclaw toward Mount Rainier, the next volcano on the list, a sign tells me Cayuse Pass is closed. As I’d planned my route via Route 410 through Chinook Pass to Cayuse and then south, it was time for a rethink. A visit to the Ranger Station confirms the sign’s message: Two of the three Rainier passes have been closed by mudslides, so I’ll head south for the west entrance to Rainier National Park instead. No problem — the mountain looks just as good from the south as it does from the east.
I’m looking for Route 162, Oroville Road East, a delightful recreational road that gallops through the Carbon and Puyallup River watersheds to Eatonville. South of Eatonville is Elbe, one of Washington’s prettiest “Alpine” towns. I ride into the park in the dappled light of afternoon sun filtering through the cedars. Mount Rainier, hidden until now by the trees, leaps into view, and it seems impossible that anything so vast could have been obscured. As I get closer its snowy bulk, rising to 14,411ft, fills the sky, looming over the road and dwarfing even the tallest trees. The thought of climbing such a peak is totally daunting, yet friend and former business colleague Jim Whittaker, the first American to scale Everest, has made the ascent many times. Rainier is Jim’s “home” mountain. Amazing.
I ride through the park as far as the Cayuse Pass road closure before turning southwest again on Route 12. I’m booked into a motel in Morton, some 40 miles away. Tomorrow: America’s most famous volcano — especially since its 1980 eruption.
Mount St. Helens
As the Pacific tectonic plate moves east, sliding under the North American plate, pressure in the earth’s crust increases along the Cascades. Every so often, the pressure becomes too much for the crust. On May 18, 1980, a magnitude 5.1 earthquake triggered an eruption in Mount St. Helens that was equivalent to a 24 megaton explosion, blowing away one side of the mountain.
Page: << Previous 1
| 3 | 4
| Next >>