P.S.-

Gear Up for a Greener Earth

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Day 52: Arlington, WA to Seattle, WA

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Even though we had another pretty short day to get into Seattle, we woke up at our normal time of 5:30am so that we could get in and out of the city (to our host’s house in a Seattle suburb) outside of rush hour time. Though they had warned us that they weren’t as early risers as we are, Ruth had made a batch of pancakes the previous evening for us to hear up in the morning. After about 52 days of oatmeal mixed with peanut butter and maple syrup, we really appreciated the variety, and the pancakes were delicious.

We packed everything up knowing that it was our last time, took pictures and said goodbye to Carl (he had woken up by then), and hit the road. We were using a combination of several bike trails to get into the city so there was no traffic to worry about most of the time. This allowed us to talk and sing and reflect together most of the morning without worry.

We ate the last of our food, and had our last McDonald’s fries experience (for what will likely be a very long time) and moved on into the city. Riding in the afternoon was a bit more hectic, but went well.

At about 2:30pm we hit our final destination of the trip: the Space Needle. After setting out from the Washington Monument on May 20th, we had ridden 3,877 miles to get there. We celebrated, lifted our bikes into the air, and took some pictures, overjoyed to have completed such a big journey and to have meet or fundraising goal before we got there.

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We headed out of Seattle by bus. It is always a tough thing to figure out an area’s public transportation system on the fly, but Keene, who is our route and maps guy, did a stellar job and we left without a hiccup. We got to our host’s house and unpacked our bikes for the last time, spent some alone time getting settled and then headed to a recommended Thai restaurant for our celebration dinner. It was delicious (and authentic, according to Graham, who has been to Thailand) and we sat happy and full, enjoying each others’ company (yes, we still do after 52 days) and the end if our adventure.

This won’t be the last post on this blog, for those of you who may go through withdrawal, but they will no longer be daily. Look for updates on the statistics of the trip and what the members of the Gear Up Crew are headed for next!

Day 51: Marblemount, WA to Arlington, WA

Anticipation built all day as we rode. We headed deeper and deeper into the coastal greenery of western Washington, watching as the trees, moss, and ferns became the predominant vegetation where evergreens and dry land had been the norm since Glacier National Park.

Because of our decision to continue biking the afternoon before, our day was short. We arrived at our hosts’ house at about 1pm and, for the first time on our trip, we ate lunch with our hosts. Carl and Ruth had lived in Japan for 20 years, and they made us delicious cold Japanese noodles and fresh fruit (something we rarely get) which really cooled us down from the ride.

Because we got in so early, we were also able to visit the local library to catch up on some administrative things. Afterwards we headed back to Carl and Ruth’s, where we spent the afternoon and evening talking and feasting on more delicious homemade Japanese food. We had a great time talking to Carl and Ruth; we learned about their time in Japan, Washington state, and their other travels as well as sharing many stories of our own.

They were perfect hosts to have on the eve of the last day of our trip, and we are so thankful for their hospitality.

One more day!

Day 50: Winthrop, WA to Marblemount, WA (81.9 miles)

With 2 days to go until we reach Seattle, we have raised $10,140 of our $10,000 goal!

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Diablo Lake

When we woke up, Dave was almost packed up already. It may be the first time we’ve ever been beaten out of camp! We followed him out and headed towards the pass. After several days of climbing, and finally hitting the hard part while it was still cool out, we all felt good and prepared for our last big elevation change: Washington Pass. We made it up in pretty record time and did a little celebrating (read: eating) at the top. Then we headed down and back up the much smaller Rainy Pass.

We spent some time at Rainy Pass; as we head further west into Washington people seem to be more and more interested in what we are doing and what we are raising money for (some have even heard of Conservation International) which is a nice feeling. After several conversations with different groups of hikers, we headed down the 37 mile descent from the pass.

It was beautiful (and scary) as we passed by the cliffs overlooking the turquoise blue glacial lakes, but, before we knew it, we were at the bottom of the descent sitting in Newhalem, our planned destination for the day. However, it was only 3pm. After some ice cream and soda (gotta get those calories, right?) We decided to move on to the next town, Marblemount, 15 miles away.

Or attitude towards lodging has changed quite a bit since the beginning of the trip, and we weren’t very worried about finding a place to sleep. Sure enough, it took only a short conversation with a local to lead us to ask the town BBQ joint whether we could set up our tent on their back yard. The answer was yes (though the owner, who’s wife had not yet informed him that we were staying there, was caught off guard when he found us there around 10pm) and we spent the rest of the evening catching up on journaling, playing cards, and talking to people around town. Our evening ended quietly; we are all anticipating our arrival in Seattle, but none of us can believe that the trip is actually ending, so it took some quiet time to try to make some sense of it.

Day 49: Tonasket, WA to Winthrop, WA (80.4 miles)

With 3 days to go until we reach Seattle, we have raised $10,115 of our $10,000 goal!

We woke up to smoke clouding the horizon and the heat already settling in. We knew it was going to be a hard battle up the pass and through the heat, but we don’t really have a choice: we doused ourselves in water and hit the road.

As the day heated up even more we really had to push ourselves to complete the 18 or so miles to the top of the pass. A passing car stopped as we took a break on the side of the road and asked whether we wanted a ride to the top. We laughed and said “no thank you” (turns out they had done a fair amount of cycle touring as well) but in our minds we were all thinking that a ride to the top sounded pretty damn nice. When we finally made it, we took a long break before beginning the descent, and agreed that the next day we would wake up early enough to climb out next pass before the heat set in.

Another break at the bottom of the pass in Twisp (along with 2 pounds of JoJos) and a ride six miles past Winthrop brought us to our host’s house for the night, listed on our map as a cyclist only campground. It’s quite crazy to stay at places like that and realize that all the amenities that are offered (outdoor solar shower, composting toilet, WiFi, soda, a place to camp) are all provided free of charge our of the goodness of these hosts’ hearts.

We weren’t his only visitors that night. We met an eastbound professor named Dave, who we really enjoyed talking to, and a Belgian couple who were essentially cycling around the world (they were starting year 2 of their tour) came in layer. We spent an enjoyable evening swapping stories and information about the trail with Dave, a very easygoing, open, and friendly man, and we are glad to have met him in these last days of our trip.

With three days of riding left, it is very interesting and moving to reflect back on the first days of the trip. Our conversation with Dave helped us do that.

As the evening wore on, we brought our mind back to the next day and our last mountain pass. We set the alarm for 4:30am and headed to bed, excited to complete our last big challenge, enter the Cascade Mountains and get that much closer to Seattle.

Day 48: Kettle Falls, WA to Tonasket, WA (83.6 miles)

With 4 days to go until we reach Seattle, we have raised $10,115 of our $10,000 goal!

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Keene eating a torta from the taco truck.

We got up early again (4:30am) to face our longest day of climbing on the trip. We climbed two mountain passes (Sherman and Wauconda) for a total of 43 miles of climbing. For the most part we were climbing through heavy evergreen forest, a familiar sight since Glacier, but, as soon as we made it over the second pass we felt the dry heat of the desert.

Descending the pass should have been easy, but by that time we were exhausted and the desert made things difficult. When we finally rolled into town the first thing we did was chug Gatorade at the nearest gas station. The desert was a radically different landscape than we had seen up to that point in the trip, and it was beautiful to watch as we rode through it singing “Horse With No Name” to get us through the heat (just replace “horse” with “bike”).

We stayed behind the Tonasket visitors center which was fully equipped for cyclists to spend the night: Wi-Fi, bathrooms, and a place to put our tent. We were pretty full from the Gatorade, but there was a Taco Truck across the street from us, so we had to make a little room.

Tired after the tough day we fell quickly to sleep, thinking of the few short days between us and Seattle.

Day 47: Ione, WA to Kettle Falls, WA (55.0 miles)

With 5 days to go until we reach Seattle, we have raised $10,065 of our $10,000 goal! We made it!

Thank you all so much for your generosity in helping us reach this goal. Having reached the goal is by no means discouragement from donating, however. If you feel moved to support Conservation International, please feel free to continue to donate through our page. The more we raise, the more Conservation International is able to make a positive difference in the world!

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Cyrus almost lost his water bottle in there!

With a short day ahead of us, we felt justified in getting up 30 minutes later than usual, but we’ve been getting so good at breaking camp that we still hit the road about the same time. We had a warm-up climb in the morning (warm-up for the mountains, that is) and spent a lot of the rest of the day going downhill. After lunch in Colville, the wind and heart picked up, and, even though we only had 10 miles left, it felt like far too long. Short days can mess with your head like that.

We wanted to get to our destination early enough so that we could watch the US Women’s National Soccer Team play in the final of the World Cup (perhaps the real reason this was a short day). We made to Kettle Falls with about an hour to spare, and, after disappointingly finding out that the local brewery was closed on Sunday, headed to TJ’s Bar and Grill. We spent the afternoon (it was on local time for us!) entranced by the game and eating lots of fries, of course. It was the Gear Up crew’s favorite part of the day by far.

After the (spoiler alert) big win, we set up camp in the city park behind the Visitors Center, where we had met a nice couple as we came into town that told us we were not only allowed but encouraged to camp there. Maybe so, but they didn’t warn us about the trains that blasted by the park, whistles shrieking, at 2am. Such is life for us transients, but we’re still enjoying it.