Chasing Peaks In The Cascade Range: Part 2 – Ryan Wilson

Chasing Peaks In The Cascade Range: Part 2
Photos and words by Ryan Wilson

I woke up on day four in Bend, Oregon at 6am, in what is likely the shittiest motel the (otherwise quite nice) city has to offer. Next door I could hear the muffled sounds of what seemed like an escalating argument over who stole whose bag of weed. Rather than stick around for the thrilling conclusion to this one, I quickly packed up and headed straight to Smith Rock State Park just a few miles north.

“Misery Trail” climbs steeply up the rock face (though not quite as dramatic as the name suggests) before dropping back down to the crooked river through Smith Rock, which is typically packed with rock climber types on any given day. This was just a quick stop before heading a few more hours north toward Dalles, Oregon at the Columbia River Gorge for my next ride. I had seen photos of the road to Rowena Crest before, and knew I wanted to plan a loop around this stretch of road because let’s face it… I have no willpower when it comes to resisting a nice set of switchbacks. I even got to throw in an unexpected gravel climb before crossing the river into Washington.

Sun setting at Mt. Rainier

Mt. Rainier National Park is a place where road bikes were made to be ridden. Five hors catégorie climbs within the park, all winding their way through dense forest, rugged cliffs, with a seemingly impossible backdrop of Rainier itself constantly looming from above. The sheer size is something that cannot be translated into words or photos. It dominates your field of view from virtually anywhere in the area.

My first day at Mt. Rainier was one of the biggest of the trip, riding two mountain passes (Stevens Canyon and Chinook Pass), followed up by a snowfield hike up Skyline Ridge with the sun going down. If you’re ever in the area and for some reason only have one day to explore, I can say confidently that this is a full blown sensory overload day worth repeating.

With my legs flying at half-mast on day six, and three big days coming up, I decided to take it fairly easy, climbing up Sunrise road along the other side of Mt. Rainier, with a short detour through the Carbon River Rainforest. Then I was on my way to the Olympic Peninsula…

Day 4 | Misery Trail hike
Day 4 | Rowena Crest
Day 5 | Rainier: Stevens and Chinook
Day 5 | Rainier: Skyline Ridge
Day 6 | Rainier: Sunrise Road

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  • PNT

    love it as always!

  • -Steven

    That looks soo massive. Very well captured.

  • hans

    wow, fantastic shots as always dude!

    • rmdub

      Thanks, Hans!

  • Jason Flynn

    Just amazing. I wish we had places like this in the UK!

  • Sean Talkington

    I would love to hear more about the weed you stole…

    • rmdub

      I’m high on life, Sean.

      …and stolen weed. Lots of stolen weed.

  • I really would like visit this place, here in Italy we have nice mountain sides but this is different. Very inspiring pictures @disqus_o1aRMdPrRF:disqus

  • Sebastian

    It’s pretty awesome comparing his location and forward progress from #11, to #14, to #16. Looking at the volcano, on the volcano. Incredible photos as always.

  • Bradley Tompkins

    Dammit, boy….I must go there.