Late fall ride to Miller Peak

A whole day free from work! Sunshine! Fall colors!

Thick fog lay over Seattle on Saturday morning, so I decided to head east to Cle Elum. The fog was still thick there – so I drove on eastwards until the fog disappeared a few miles down the road and saw Mt. Stuart in my rearview mirror. Decision made: turn around and do a Miller Peak loop. I started the ride dressed for icy cold weather to warm up – and in case I was still out after sunset. Nothing like fresh legs at the beginning of a ride and sunshine. The ride started with a bit of dirt road and puddles that had frozen crusts. Then, the Iron Bear trail takes off at 10% grade. The higher I went, the warmer it got. Soon, I took off my last shirt - and I was still sweating.

Heading up on the Iron Bear trail to the Teanaway ridge.

Heading up on the Iron Bear trail to the Teanaway ridge.

Went past a few hikers, most were in a good mood. The switchbacks on the Teanaway Ridge trail were fun, I could tell that my skills had improved since last year when I rode this, and that made me happy.

Fall view of Mt. Rainier from the Teanway Ridge trail.

Fall view of Mt. Rainier from the Teanway Ridge trail.

Even the rocky chute on the County Line trail seemed easier than last year. Here’s Miller Peak presenting itself nicely.

Miller Peak from the County Line trail.

Miller Peak from the County Line trail.

Met a couple moto guys – their vehicles weren’t terribly noisy and we could talk in normal voices. Then rode the County Line trail, which last year I had mostly walked due to the rocky/gravel sections. This didn’t seem so bad this year and so I rode it. Perhaps the trail was just in better condition?

County Line trail toward the Miller Peak trail.

County Line trail toward the Miller Peak trail.

On the way, I met another hiker, Don, who was full of trail info and we chatted for a while. It’s rare to find people who are more chatty than me, but he certainly was. He warned me to get ready for the cold breeze up at Miller Peak. I heeded his warning and put some clothes back on :)

The view from the top was stunning. The breeze was indeed pretty chilly, so I laid behind some rocks, out of the wind to look at Mt. Stuart.

Looking towards Mt. Stuart from Miller Peak.

Looking towards Mt. Stuart from Miller Peak.

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A sea of fogs lay in the valleys – while blue skies and sun sparkled up above.

Mt. Stuart is ridiculously sharp and pointy looking. I don’t know how people climb that. Must be quite an adventure. After a few minutes, I had enough of the breeze and went back down.

This ridge is the way down from Miller Peak. Ok, the other side of the ridge - which is way less scary.

This ridge is the way down from Miller Peak.

Then, I rode down the Miller Peak trail and went up Stafford Creek trail to try to ride the rocky sections there – but utterly failed. I didn’t even make it to the intersection – just gave up, and went back via Iron Bear trail. Iron Bear is so steep in the end, so I walked it. Finally, a nighttime descent down the other side sealed the deal. The temps dropped rapidly to 40F, so once again I bundled up for the fast ride down the dirt road. Brrr.

GPX track

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Kachess Ridge with Thorp Creek and Knox Creek trails

Went out last weekend to see the fall colors up in the Cascades. Rode up Kachess Ridge and saw lots of bikers coming down, and lots of mushrooms. Some looking eatable and fresh.

Yummy looking mushrooms on Kachess Ridge

Yummy looking mushrooms on Kachess Ridge

Nice view along the top of the ridge – though some low-hanging clouds cut off the horizon.

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Then, headed down Thorp Creek trail to Thorp Lake. Beautiful place.

Thorp Lake.

Thorp Lake.

Rode down Thorp Creek trail (great!) and then connected via some forest roads and Knox Creek trail back up to the ridge. The lower half of Knox Creek trail was rideable, the upper half full hike-a-bike. It was getting dark by the time I reached Kachess Ridge again and the wind calmed down. Beautiful time to be out, but it still makes me anxious to know that I am running out of daylight, even though I have a nice bike light with me. Not sure why that is. Took me over an hour to ride down in the dark. Very nice outing.

Click map for GPX track.

Kachess Ridge lollipop.

Kachess Ridge lollipop.

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Willows Fjords

Just a short ride report on this very small park near Redmond, WA, which is tucked behind some office complexes, has no views, and is a bit hard to find. Here’s the GPX track with a couple access points. Why bother, you may ask. Well, if you live nearby and enjoy steep climbs, tight switchbacks, and a few roots, this is the place to go for an hour-long ride. Thanks to the Evergreen site for posting this ride, I rode my fatbike there last month. Since I just got the wheels back for my fatbike from truing&tensioning by Perfect Wheels, I headed out there again. The wheels were great, even the odd disc brake rubbing is gone.

This trail system is so much fun. 1100 ft of climbing in 4.2 miles – all in a place the size of a peanut. The trails were in nice condition and I met the guy clearing them with a weed whacker.

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Icicle Ridge and 4th of July

This ride happened by accident. The plan had been to go on a big gravel grinder with Colin, starting south of Lake Chelan, but we never got to the starting point. Google Maps routed us through some odd overgrown single-lane forest roads on the way to Ardenvoir, WA, that I gave up on that. I sent a note to Google Maps to correct the routing problem, and they fixed it in their system:

Google responds and fixes the wrong driving directions. Yay.

Google responds and fixes the wrong driving directions. Yay.

The ride was supposed to be an easy technical – but big&long gravel grinder. Quite the opposite of what we ended up doing; but then the best laid plans of men and mice often go awry. Not always, but often. And definitely so in this case.

I had noticed the Icicle Ridge trail to consist of switchbacks up and then more switchback down on the 4th of July trail for a grand total of 15 measly miles. Since we were near Leavenworth and it was going on 10 am, I was intrigued to give it a try as we didn’t have time for a really long ride.

Summary:

15 miles, 8 hours and 6000 ft. of elevation later, one of us was very happy to be done:

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Here’s the story, of a couple bikers, who thought they’d just head out for a short ride. As it turned out, they were bamboozled, but kept on pushing their bikes.

The Icicle Ridge trail starts off just too nice. Beautiful, wide, smooth trail, switchbacks that are *just* rideable for the most part, and a few step-ups here and there for some added tech. All the while the trail goes up at ~15%.

Gaining height over Leavenworth.

Gaining height over Leavenworth.

After 1800 ft., the first overlook presents itself. Wow, perfect day to be out.
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A couple hikers mention to us that the trail keeps going up for much longer than it looks from here – and I was excited to find out what they meant by that. This is the ridge line where we are headed to next, and it is much higher than what it looks like in the picture.  I don’t know why it looks so low in the picture.

Icicle Ridge

Icicle Ridge

The trail immediately goes down a notch in terms of maintenance, and a notch up in steepness. Hike-a-bike becomes a lot more frequent the higher we get.
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Finally, we reach the first plateau and take a lunch break. The sun heats our backs and the air is dry and almost a bit chilly when a slight breeze comes.
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The trail is then occasionally rideable. And the landscape is completely transformed compared to the low-lands. Arid, like the Southwest, not like the lush Northwest. Rocks, gravel, grasses, shrubs, and burned trees that shine silver.
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The bit of rideable trail was followed by another steep HAB. Oh ja.

Colin is carrying his bike. Pushing a bike is harder than carrying it in this kind of terrain.

Colin is carrying his bike. Pushing a bike is harder than carrying it in this kind of terrain.

But then, the trail levels off again and we ride along the fairy-tale landscape of Icicle Ridge. All ails are forgotten.
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Even a creek (probably Power Creek) was running.

Filled up with water at Power Creek – was a bit surprised to find good water up here.

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Then we took another break at an amazing overlook. We were at 6400 ft. and below us was Leavenworth at 1300 ft. Incredible. It was hard to take pictures that really showed what it’s like since the contrast was very high. But, here are a couple attempts:
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We traversed the ridge line for another 1.5 miles (some smooth sailing, some pushing), and then stopped for another snack break. We were starting to get hungry and a couple sandwiches were consumed.
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Looking towards the Steward Range.

Looking towards the Steward Range.

Mt. Adams in front of us along Icicle Ridge.

Glacier Peak in front of us along Icicle Ridge.

Then, the descent on the 4th of July trail began. It’s immediately steep and filled with techy rocks. Yum. Then I fell over. Then my rear wheel busted a spoke. Colin repaired it by saying: “You’ve got plenty of spokes in that wheel, I think you’ll be fine.” So, instead of fixing it with my FiberFix emergency spoke, I just kept on riding. The wheel held fine, but it’s now at a wheel builder in Seattle for a rebuild.

A picture for the folks back home.

A picture for the folks back home.

The upper half (~2000 ft. ?) is quite overgrown. I carried my bike over my head in a few places to get through the shrubs.

Upper portion of 4th of July is ovegrown.

Upper portion of 4th of July is overgrown.

The lower portion was a delight:

I've got to ride more swoopy trails like this.

“I’ve got to ride more swoopy trails like this.” – Colin

We only saw one hiker coming down 4th of July.  Finally, 4 miles and 4000 ft. down, the single track ended this day’s main adventure. The stats don’t look like much, but boy, I tell you otherwise.
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A few quick road miles brought us back to the car.
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23 miles, 8:40 hours, 6300 ft. el., GPX track

I don’t understand why this trail isn’t ridden more. It’s an epic loop, and it’s on my do-again list.

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