David Freeze: Day 8 brings false summits and proximity to Canada

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 13, 2019

After such a long day Monday pushing on to the Columbia River, I knew that my entry into the state of Washington was going to be a real challenge.

I was told that evening that climbing out would be steep and long, as much as 12 miles. I expected worse than that.

The view of the Columbia River was spectacular Monday evening, but all I could think about was watching the trucks struggle to climb up from the river. Tuesday morning, I topped the worst of it at about 10 a.m. and then stopped at a store. I was told the road goes right back up toward a summit at Satus Pass — at 3,146 feet. The clerks told me it would be tough and that there would be no more supply stops for 50 miles.

While at the store, a woman came over to ask about my trip. It turns out that Jackie and Don Mahar were visiting from their home in Adelaide, Australia. They live in a suburb called East Salisbury. We had a nice talk, and they promised to watch for the story in the Post.

Speaking of false summits, I climbed and thought I had topped out after racing downhill for a mile afterward. There was no sign for the summit.

The road turned back up again and topped out again. Then, the same again, down a little and back up, just steeper this time. After one more, I finally stopped climbing after about seven hours, often at about 4 mph.

U.S. 97 then flattened out for about 40 miles, and I made good time with a little high desert to see. One more big climb carried me up over a big butte for the descent into Toppenish, Washington, and on the hunt for supplies again.

At this point, I had made better progress than expected. I could have quit after about 62 very hard miles. But I needed more to stay on track to meet my daughter, Amber, in Anchorage, Alaska, by her birthday, July 12.

My best guess means I need to average 80 miles a day. So I struck a deal with Calista Morrison at the Union Gap Quality Inn, about 16 miles farther north on U.S. 97.

Pushing hard with a mostly flat road and the first true tailwind of the day, I ended up with 78 miles in downtown Union Gap — just south of Yakima, Washington. The area is know for major fruit production.

Wednesday was very uncertain. I planned to attempt to ride the parts of two interstates that coincide with U.S. 97 for a while. Splitting off later, U.S. 97 would carry me to Wenatchee and points north.

If all goes well, I will enter British Columbia, Canada, in about two more days. I had no idea where I would spend the night, but it does look like I will ride upstream along the Columbia River in the afternoon.

Two more of my returning sponsors are Leonard Wood and Dr. Tanya Williams. Leonard spends a lot of time traveling and has been everywhere. He has advised me on important parts of this trip and contributed as well. Williams is my dentist and does a great job at Gentle Dental.

We have covered a lot of ground and are leading into the most uncertain day of the trip so far.

David Freeze is a Salisbury Post contributor who is biking from Nevada to Alaska. He can be reached at David.freeze@ctc.net while on his journey.