How 4 bicycle travelers got through the North Cascades mudslides

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There’s nothing like a first-person account from a touring bicyclist to add drama to the closure of the North Cascades Highway this past weekend.

Bekah Gordon wrote one at, telling how she and her three companions slogged through mud and running water, hefted their loaded touring bikes over guardrails, then escaped an oncoming hailstorm thanks to a lift from some road workers.

A mudslide blocking North Cascade Highway. WSDOT photo

Three of the bicyclists have been touring the Northern Tier Bicycle Route since leaving June 9 from Portsmouth, N.H.

Together with a fourth touring bicyclist, they had set out to climb Rainy and Washington passes on State Route 20 last weekend, but were blocked by some mudslides from earlier rainstorms. A Washington State Department of Transportation worker told them that the road was closed in six places.

“We decided to make our way over the little hump of a guy, Rainy Pass, up ahead and linger around the road closure until further notice. Once up there, we were able to truly see the power of Mother Nature and the impressive amount of rock and earth that had been moved over the road. With the help of digger trucks and our D.O.T friend, we were fortunately able to skirt around the slides, lifting our hefty steeds over the guard rail, through thick mud, and running streams of water.”

Another storm was brewing, however, and pressed down on them.

“We looked back and noticed it rolling in fast and dark. Perhaps naively we thought we could out-bike it. But there’s no playing with the forces of nature and out here, everything seems a bit bigger and more dramatic.

I’m convinced there has been an angel watching out over us on this journey. Laugh if you want, we have been so fortunate so often. In this case, the angel must have helped us run into more kind D.O.T workers … who let us throw our bikes into their pick up truck (yes, we basically threw them) and hurry out of the hailing-raining-wind that was howling upon us. Taking time out of their work day, they drove us kooky cyclists down into the nearest town of Diablo.”


The 3 cyclists setting out in June. Photo from

The 3 cyclists setting out in June. Photo from

One of the bicyclists had a connection at the North Cascades Institute, which took in the four bicyclists, fed them dinner, set up a room for them that night, and sent them on their way the next morning with a full breakfast.

It seems true that there are always “trail angels” who look out for traveling bicyclists.

You can read the full account of their ride through the North Cascades and other experiences on their trip at

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