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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