Cape Gazette

SEA TO SHINING SEA: Up and over the pass

By Dennis Forney | May 25, 2013
Photo by: Dennis Forney Oregon's Department of Transportation - ODot - closes the upper reaches of Route 242, the McKenzie Highway, when snow season beings and doesn't reopen it to automobile traffic until mid-June.  Too much snow and it doesn't want to keep it plowed.  But it does allow bicyclists and walkers use the road over an 11-mile stretch that crosses the pass.  Cyclists love it and take full advantage of it. That's the good news.  The bad news is that without plowing you run the risk of finding your route covered in snow.  There's Becky slogging through about five inches of snow up around the 4,000 foot mark.  We had about two miles of snow to fishtail and crunch our way through.

SISTERS, OREGON — DAY 12 - Snowshoeing across America.  Memorial Day weekend for God's sake and we're bicycling over the Cascade Mountains in five inches of snow.  Totally spectacular.  We logged 39 miles today, the first 22 of that uphill to McKenzie Pass to cross over from the wet side of the mountains to the dry side.  Of course it's raining here now.  It seems to be following us.  Today our average speed ended at 7.8 but when we were walking it was as low as two and when we came down the other side of the pass I hit 29.  All in all I was happy with the speed and happy to get over the first major pass.

Tonight we're tenting in a city park in Sisters, Oregon.  Lots of bicycling families surrounding us in their tents and pop-ups.  Nice people.

Oh yeah. Today our total ascent was 5,942 feet. Feeling pretty good and now that we're off the wet side of the Cascades my head is starting to dry up.  Bill says there's not much to see east of the Cascades. "Just a bunch of sage bush and Ponderosa pines." I have a feeling Bill might not appreciate the Delaware marshes very much either.

Here are a bunch of photos from today. Soon it will be Sunday.  Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

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Dogwoods like the lush Cascade woods.  This is on the wet side of the mountains.
We encountered our first snow at about the 3,000-foot mark.
This is the snow gate on Route 242 headed eastward toward McKenzie Pass.  Becky is offloading her panniers so we can lift her bike over the gate.  It's a serious gate.  They really don't want automobiles up there in the winter. It's a very scenic route and won't be opened until mid-June, except to walkers and cyclists.
We started seeing more snow at the 4,000-foot mark.
"Whose woods these are I think I know, his house is in the village though, he will not see me stopping here to watch his woods fill up with snow." Frost, Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening.
And then we came upon a great lava field with the Belknap crater in the distance. Freaky stuff that lava.  Only the hardiest evergreens can establish a foothold in it.
The 5,000-foot mark.
At the McKenzie Pass, we spoke with Al and Marty Skucas.  Al is president of Trails BC which is building and promoting the Trans Canada Trail in British Columbia.  We're following Adventure Cycling Association's Trans American Trail and Al was interested in our impressions of the journey. Check out his website at
Here's Becky and me at the observation platform on top of McKenzie Pass. Yes that's a DelDOT Adopt-a-Highway vest.  Someone slipped it into my pack for safety. I wear it proudly. That's Mount Jefferson in the background, on the left, and Mount Washington on the right.
Here's Mt. Jefferson framed by the rough stone windows of the McKenzie Pass observatory.  Pretty artsy huh?
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