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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2 Responses to Icicle Ridge and 4th of July

  1. Igor says:

    You should have come back the same way for an OAB 🙂

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