Jessica did a point-to-point hike/trail run from Easy Pass trailhead to Thunder Creek trailhead. In her trip report she mentioned that some folks bike back to the start to make it a loop.
Did someone say bikes? Yeah! Let’s do it!
Since this was a hike-then-bike adventure, we dubbed it “The Easy Pass Duathlon.”
In case you are thinking, “Easy Pass sounds easy,” the name is definitely a joke. It’s steep and strenuous on both sides.
My partner was Tobias Holgers, who is a High Performance Cycling teammate, and also joined me in a week-long backpack of the West Coast Trail in 2017.
Our plan was to stash bikes near the Easy Pass trailhead, drive to Colonial Creek Campground (where the Thunder Creek trailhead is located), hike from Thunder Creek to the Easy Pass trailhead, then cycle back to the car at Colonial Creek.
We left Seattle around 1PM, made a few pit stops along the way, and arrived at the Easy Pass trailhead around 6:30. We found an out-of-sight location to lock the bikes, and decided to bivy there for the night. In addition to the bikes, we stashed helmets, cycling shoes, and a few other items.
The wristwatch alarms went off at 3:30AM. We quickly packed, and while drinking canned coffees, drove to Colonial Creek Campground. There is a large no-fee parking lot and bathrooms at the south camp area.
We started hiking at around 5AM.
For the hike, we planned to keep a steady effort level, and estimated we could average about 2.5 mph.
The first ~9 miles felt like a freshly groomed ski run, were relatively flat, and running that stretch would be be wonderful option. The rest of the route was a mix of steep sections and tangles of downed trees–from avalanches or overly saturated soil. The trail was washed out in a couple places, and the bridge crossing Fisher Creek was blown up by floodwaters. I think most would find it difficult to run miles ~10-20 because of the woody debris obstacle course.
The hike ended up being about three miles longer than the routes we had mapped, yet we finished faster than expected.
At the Easy Pass trailhead “transition zone” we made a potty stop, changed gear, and got energized with mini cokes I had stashed with the bike gear.
We only needed to get water twice. First at about mile 20 above treeline in the upper Fisher Creek basin. During the bike transition we topped off the bladders at Granite Creek near the Easy Pass Trailhead. We filtered water with a Platypus GravityWorks. I had gotten it prior to the pandemic for a planned trip to Tibet that never happened. This was the first time either of us had used it, and we were amazed at how easy and fast it worked.
For the hike I used a 3 L bladder in a Platypus Tokul hydration pack, and Tobias had a 2 L bladder in a Northface day pack. At the bike transition I stuffed the Tokul inside a backcountry ski pack and lashed my hiking poles (old school 1985 collapsable Chouinard ski poles) to the sides. Tobias said the big pack “punched a huge hole in the air” during the bike ride, and the poles made it look like Superman was on my back.
The ride westbound back to Colonial Creek was uneventful. We knew what to expect since we had both cycled Hwy 20 many times. Near Ross Lake, the typical “serious” headwinds and crosswinds were in full force, and we were braced for sudden gusts.