Snow storm over Snoqualmie Pass
On Saturday 7th November, I was all packed up and ready to leave Moxee by lunch time. Roy mentioned that it looked like snow falling over towards the direction I had to travel, and checked with the weather services on the 'net. The camera sites didn't show it as snowing, although there had been snow falling along my route the previous night.
" It doesn't look all that bad," I say to Roy. "I'll chance it." Very brave words from someone who's never ridden in snow, if I do say so myself!!!
Crisp, clear weather - beautiful riding weather - although clouds were building over to the west - where I had to go. Got onto I-90 near Ellensburg, and the storm front was looming closer, and looking considerably nastier. It definitely didn't look like the normal grey of rain falling. Oh well, I'll just keep going and see what happens. Nothing, for a while.
Then just west of Cle Elum (2 on the map), it started to rain, then sleet, then big globs of snow were smacking into my visor! Ahh, this is still OK, though. I'll keep going for a while. Then the countryside slowly started to change colour, from brown and green, to white! Uh, oh, this is getting serious, but I'll still keep going for a while longer. Perhaps it'll blow over soon. No such luck!
By the time I got to 3 (on the map) it was a full-on snow storm! Almost a white-out. I was riding with just one hand, using the left to continually, like windscreen wipers, swipe away the snow coating my visor so that I could partially see the road. Although following other traffic, it was sometimes difficult to distinguish their wheel tracks, as the snow was covering them in almost immediately. All traffic had slowed considerably, down to a little over 30mph/50kph. There was a flashing neon warning sign of a collision ahead, shimmering orange through the falling snow.
There was a loaded tow truck with a car following along behind with four-way flashers on, over in the right hand lane, going slower than the majority of traffic, so I delicately scrunched my way across the strip of deeper snow between the wheeltracks, and tucked in behind them, as I didn't want to irritate any car drivers by going slowly out in the left lane.
The bike was handling it pretty well, I thought, just plugging along gently, trying to stay in the wheel tracks where possible, when they could be seen, hoping for the best when I couldn't see them. Warnings of keeping a relaxed grip on the bars when in sand roamed through my mind. Did it work like that in snow as well, I wondered. Relax, relax! A few times I heard ominous crunching, as I drifted out of the wheel track into the deepening snow. I'd thought of stopping to shelter under an overpass, but brushed that thought away almost as it formed, as I didn't really fancy being stuck - stationary - in the middle of nowhere in a snow storm for an indefinite time, not knowing how much colder it would get. Nope, I'd stick it out while the going's reasonable, hoping to make it through without dropping.
I was dreading reaching the summit of Snoqualmie Pass. But the weather gods were being kind - at last! Just before reaching the Pass, I could actually see parts of the road again, and wheel tracks were easily distinguished now. It was still snowing, but lighter, just a 5-second swipe rate now. As I crested the summit and started the descent, the snow fall eased over a couple of miles to just the odd flake now and then. The road was clearing with the traffic load. I caught a glimpse of sunshine ahead. Woohoo! It may be over, at last!
I was approaching North Bend, 4 on the map, where I had to turn off the interstate. The snow had finally stopped. The roads were clearing. The sun was shining. Bewdy! I'd just survived riding through my first snow storm. It's not something I'd like to do every day, but it was an interesting exercise. Of course, not something that would happen very often in Australia for that matter, either.
It was great to arrive at my friends' home in one piece. They weren't home, as I'd been previously advised. So I left the bike there and went for a wander, looking for a coffee house or a restroom. Thank goodness for Starbucks!
Here's an example of the beautiful scenery to be found in this area, as I discovered on the walk back from the shopping centre. Stunning! Just had to take this photo!
I live to tell another tale!!