Sugarloaf Peak with dry socks

The snowmobile trails in the Lake Wenatchee area aren’t open, yet – so it’s a free-for-all for trucks and snowmobiles (and a lone snowbiker) to play around. On my way up, I chatted with a snowmobiler from Leavenworth, Matt, about the WA SnoPark regulations for fatbikes, warming huts, and snowmobile trails. Turns out, that more warming huts do exist! The Bavarian Boondockers have one on the way up to Sugarloaf, which they invited me to visit. After they were done collecting christmas trees in a large tarp, Matt and the others drove off to their trucks parked below.

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I plopped myself down in front of the fire and dried my socks!

Luxury.

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I chopped some wood to warm up a bit more, while waiting for the weather to clear as the weather forecast had said it would, yesterday. Verizon has signal up there, and checking the weather forecast, it now said “cloudy”. I finally got going around 2 pm, just as some blue sky seemed to appear. Outside, it seemed colder to me now that I had sat for a while, but my thermometer seemed to agree.

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Near Sugarloaf Peak, a family stood around a pick-up truck to cut down their Christmas tree. As I rolled up, the little boy asked “Why do you have such big tires?”  –  “So it’s easier to ride over the snow.” I replied.   To which his mother said to the little boy “He’s an extreme athlete” without looking or talking to me, and then turned towards their father who was wielding a running chain saw, without actually being in the process of cutting a tree.

Then a huge snowmobile group came by, and I got almost run off by one of them. It seemed to be a rental group with a guide.

Not quite the views they had hoped for, I think.

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The top of Sugarloaf was impressive in as much as 20 -30 mph winds can make life interesting. Icy snow crystals were being pounded into everything.

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Time to head back down. I lingered for a while starring at the winter storm clouds over the Cascades.

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Lots of people out here for a Sunday with mediocre weather. I need to get going much sooner when I plan to do a bigger ride.

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Lunch in Mazama

The long-awaited winter closure of Highway 20 by the WS-DOT happened this weekend. With almost all of Washington State to be covered in clouds on Saturday, I was resigned to yet another ride with limited visibility of the majestic peaks in the North Cascades NP.

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And 93 miles and 8000 ft. of climbing later, I now know that there was barely even any snow on the pass.

Still a nice ride. Very peaceful – as neither cars, motorcycles, nor snowmobiles were on most of the route. Only met a couple hikers and a X-country skier on the easter-side of Washington Pass. And a few cars near Mazama.

The sun was lighting up the tips of the mountains as I arrived at Ross Lake. What would it be like to camp up there, waking up in the snow bowl?

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Or paddling across the water down there?

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What I do know is that riding with studded tires makes a lot of noise without snow.

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The clouds thickened the higher I got – removing color and making life a black-and-white television show.

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Whistler Mountain towering high to my left now, when it was in front of me just a few minutes before. Biking takes you places – fast.

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Washington Pass was not a place to linger long, and the decision was made to see if lunch in Mazama could still be gotten before 1 pm.

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The road down on the eastern side is nicer than the western slope, as it is closer to the edge of the rocks and higher up in the valley.

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A most filling lunch was had at the Mazama general store, which was surprisingly crowded with X-country skiers and look-alikes.

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A child’s remark “Oh, it’s an electric bike”, was soon followed by another question about electric bikes. That makes 3 e-bike comments so far – 3 more than I care to have gotten. Not only do I find ebikes to be a bizarre excuse for riding a motorcycle on walkways, but now I am being lumped right in with them. Great. Thanks a lot for giving fatbikes a bad rep.

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A tiny bit of snowy trail was found when I saw 2 guys riding bikes off road. Soon, this path will be off limits to bikes and the go-to place for X-country skiers instead.

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Big clouds rolled over me as I rolled back into the mountains.

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So peaceful. Not a person within 20 miles.

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How rare to find such solitude within 3 hours of Seattle.

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Farewell Fall Ride

Cool mist already lay deep in the valleys in the morning, but one last sunny weekend would surely bring some dry-ish ground to ride on. With the Middlefork Snoqualmie almost closed for the year, it had to be there.

Dirt roads quickly lead up into the valley, into sunshine. Sweat dripping, running down everywhere. Don’t stop or it will get cold!

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Rest and eat at the end of the road – the sun warming and drying my back. And drying the trail where the rays can reach.

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Leaves hide roots and rock, but the big front tire bravely goes where it is commanded to.

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Every imaginable contrast is created by Sun and Shadow, steam rising off the moses up into the blue sky, far above.

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A shower has been set up for the weary traveler; lukewarm – not bad at all!

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Down past Goldmyer hot springs, the big tree-bridge over the Burntboot creek has been taken out by another tree – marking the beginning of a soon-to-be forgotten middle-section of this trail?

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BC Alpine Mystic

The last day of summer was showing up on the weather forecast – on a Thursday. This is what Personal Leave days are for. The drive through Vancouver during rush-hour traffic delayed coffee and cake at the Purebread bakery in Whistler. Finally pedaled at noon on a blue-bird day, heading off to the new westside alpine trails built by the WORCA.

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Only 20 miles and 5k ft. of climbing, but quality mountain bike trails. The Flank trail is a repurposed logging road, but offers a (mostly) decent grade, shade and occasional views. Whistler Mountain on the right:

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The new trail, Into the Mystique, is machine-built and in a few places needs to be landscaped better, but it is very well laid out: grade, drainage and soil compaction are all first class.

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The entire climb was rideable for me, even with occasional steeps and a rock slab. Fun stuff.

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After an 2k ft. of climbing, the trail reaches the alpine. Amazing.

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Lots of riders out.

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Someone spent a lot of time thinking about how to lay out the trail.

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The trail layout looks simple and obvious – and is entirely rideable. It goes up the yellow hill on switchbacks:

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Alpine magic in big gulps.

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Keep riding like this will go on forever.

 

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A side trail gets a bit narrower and technical as it wraps around Mt. Sproatt. Just what I needed now.

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Eventually, there would be a few hike-a-bike sections. Can’t live on Koolaid alone.  The summit of Mt. Sproatt is a short scramble, but I stay on the trail east of the summit.

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The trail builders got a free ride down with a helicopter, just before I arrive at the final lookout.

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Not bad.

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Complete with picnic benches, there are views of the entire range: Black Tusk, Whistler Mt., Blackcomb Mt. Wedge Mt., Armchair … were just a few that other intrepid bikers listed for me.

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Could this connect to the Rainbow trail some day? How about winter fatbiking up here?

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Chatted with a guy from Redmond, WA, on the way down who was wearing a full-face helmet.

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The Lord of the Squirrels trail is rated “blue” in the downhill direction.

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Which is mostly true, but had me walking one roll-over/drop-off. If that’s a blue trail, I don’t think I’ll attempt the black trails at Whistler !  Super sweet, though.

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British Columbia, you’ve got the best alpine mountain bike trails close to Seattle.

Well done, WORCA!

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