Quality time on the snowbike

After a couple stressful and annoying days at work, it was definitely time for a bike ride. The weather looked the best on Saturday near Mt. Baker, and the Seahawks have a 1:30 pm game! With highs in the 30’s F, I thought this might work.

I decided to try the Anderson Snopark just east of Mt. Baker.The new Subaru made the drive up the last bit of snowy road easy. I arrived at 8 am to find the Snopark empty, and a setting Moon.20170114_081947.jpg

The trail had been recently groomed, and only one or two snowmobiles had been on it probably right after it was groomed. The snow had set well, and it was a pretty easy climb while occasional glimpses could be gleaned of Mt. Baker. After a lot of switchbacks,  the views finally opened up.20170114_100858.jpg20170114_102417.jpg20170114_102039.jpg

The temperature was around 30F and the snow easily rideable even with the 80 mm rim in the back.20170114_103545

The groomer had done an excellent job and at a turn, I decided to take the road less traveled. Pinch me! 20170114_104411.jpg20170114_104419.jpg

This quickly lead to an ungroomed area and after a bit of pushing I gave up.20170114_105653.jpg

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It was past 10 am by now, and no snowmobilers, yet! I guess I am an early bird? I take it.

I turned around and then followed the snowmobile tracks up a ridge. Always remember to look back!20170114_111722.jpg

A bit of a push brought me higher, yet, before a little warming hut came into view. Not a bad place to spend a few hours, if one were so inclined.20170114_113516.jpg

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At this point, the groomed trail continues steeply uphill at 20% grade. However, there’s no view after the 15 min hike-a-bike, so I had a snack, put on warm clothes, and headed back in time for dinner.20170114_123955.jpg

Didn’t encounter anyone else for the entire 5 hours – now that’s a quality snowbike ride!

 

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Mt. Baker for the New Year

The first day of the new year requires something a little special. And while snowbike trips are nothing new, it’s the exploring and views that I look for.

The weather forecast, interestingly enough, was for cold and clear-ish in the NW of the state. Usually, that’s reserved for the eastern Cascades.  Looks like Mt. Baker is it! I hadn’t been to this volcano yet, and the more southerly of the two SnoParks is almost west of Mt. Baker, and should have decent light conditions around noon.Screen Shot 2017-01-01 at 8.24.27 PM.png

The drive to Glacier, WA, was interesting – quite a few cars were in the ditch along the Interstate, and driving the snow and slush-covered byways in early morning felt a bit like a daze. That is, until 4 idiots in pickup trucks came careening towards me at high speed.

Sunrise was pretty.

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The ride started with a short warmup on a snowed-in dirt road, before turning into a snowmobile trail. The trail is mostly in the woods.

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After the first 4 miles it gets a bit steep at 10% grade. The snow was fairly well packed, though.

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After about mile 6, it was all pushing. It didn’t help that I am riding on a 80mm rim in the back since my big one broke – it definitely feels less stable and has less traction.

A group of snowmobilers came to a stop and gave me the thumbs up. One of them writes for an outdoor magazine and wanted to know *why* I do this: for the downhill, or for the snow adventure? He said that I am nearing at a very nice view point, maybe 1.5 miles more.

Never listen to directions from people with engines. Pushing for 1.5 hours, I arrived at the fabled viewpoint.

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If I only knew where Mt. Baker is!

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I decided to push a bit higher in hopes of less tree coverage. Always remember to look back:20170101_122001.jpg

And I hit the jackpoint – at least for how much energy I was going to spend today.

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Slow way to view Mount St. Helens in winter

Cold weather was everywhere last weekend, even in the usually warm Mt. St. Helens region, so I decided to check out the small SnoPark north of St. Helens: Wakepish. It seemed like a splendid idea as it would have been 9 miles on snowmobile trails to a nice viewpoint. However, upon leaving Randle, the gateway town to the north of St. Helens, the road, NF-25, was not really plowed and I either had to leave my car right there, or find a different place to ride my bike.

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My cold from a few days earlier didn’t seem bad, so after consulting google maps, I decided to just ride from here.

So, in the wee hour of 8:20 am, I started riding the 18 miles to the SnoPark.
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I checked out a side road and saw a few elk meandering about.
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After a few diesel pickup trucks towing trailers with snowmobiles passed me, I arrived at the Snopark just in time to witness the warming of their engines. The stench is beyond real.
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Nevertheless, snowmobiles are the things that I rely on to compact the snow for me on NF-99 to Windy Ridge – which a few had done. Yay! So, I should be thankful.

The 5% grade was just rideable the 5 miles to the first viewpoint, called Bear Meadows. If there would have been a viewpoint any earlier, I would have turned around then. But, trees line the entire way and hardly anything can be seen off to the sides.
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Very nice.

I think my cold is getting worse. After putting all my warm clothes on, it was time to head back down, hopefully twice as fast as I had creeped up here.

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Towards the end, the ride back got quite painful, where there are about 5 miles and 300 feet of elevation gain to be had.

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The price for this ride was a bit high at 2 days sick in bed the next days.

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Snow-check at Hansen Ridge

The snow has been coming down plentiful this last week, and temperatures have stayed low enough that snow is sticking on the road at Snoqualmie Pass. Sounds like a trip up to Hansen Ridge is in order.

Parked at Tinkham Rd. and rode along NF-55, watching cars and trucks getting stuck in snow on purpose. Up NF-5510, there were groups of 4-wheeling dudes out to see what their vehicle could do. They all pulled over to let me climb uninterrupted. I wouldn’t have minded a break, to be honest. But with only a mesh tank-top on, I did appreciate not having to stop and cool down.

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Some people were just out for a walk, while others were out to hunt their own Christmas tree. This pickup truck was _loaded_ with a big tree; its tip dragged in the snow behind.

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Had a good time chatting. I really wanted to see if I could ride any of the singletrack on Hansen Ridge. After the sharp right turn, the snow became deeper and the road less traveled . Still, traction was outstanding, so I still had hopes. Then, reached the obvious end-of-the-traveled road part, beyond which no vehicle had traveled for maybe a day or more. I didn’t think I could keep riding, but then found a solid base underneath ~4″ of fresh snow. The old tire rut was snowed in and narrow, but still soft and allowed my pedals to softly scrape the tops.

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I rode to within 15 yards of the Hansen Ridge parking lot where the gate is just ahead. But once out of the trees, I am sinking in a foot or more of snow. I am warm right now, but drenched from sweat and snow and need to hurry up to add clothes: warm, windproof things for hands, body, and head, before I turn into a disaster.

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The ride down was peaceful and fun, and I had to turn on my light as it was still snowing.

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