Snowbiking through a winter wonderland

After last week’s hike-a-fatbike through snow, I decided to go back to Blewett Pass and see if the snow was more rideable now. And it was! Not only that, but traction was amazing and I didn’t have to push once. The SnoPark parking lot was pretty full with about 10 truck&trailer rigs for the snowmobiles. I only encountered 4 ‘bilers and all were friendly – thanks for grooming the trails for me! Last week I was barely riding at this point just before the rock slide, but now I was hardly leaving tracks:

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The Stuart Range was looking especially pretty. I was trying to be artsy with the picture below, but it didn’t turn out that well.

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I quickly reached the intersection with NF-35, and without hesitation turned south to explore what lay ahead along this portion of the Backcountry Discovery Route. With conditions looking so good, I was hoping that I would be able to ride a big loop along the Table Mountain plateau heading south towards Ellensburg for a while, and then taking the back-roads through the tiny town of Liberty, before riding back up to Blewett Pass. The entire region is part of the snowmobile trail system; a great map is on the WA State Park website.

Google Earth view (south) from Blewett Pass towards Ellensburg.

Google Earth view of my fatbike ride from Blewett Pass towards Ellensburg and then back via Liberty, WA. You have to imagine the mountains being covered in snow.

The weather was great: sunshine, no wind, and 25F-ish on top of the Table Mountain plateau.

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I quickly reached a view point well before Lion Rock.

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Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams are peaking up above a thin layer of clouds in the distance.

Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams are peaking up above a thin layer of clouds in the distance.

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Farther along, more views opened up. Rather unbelievable.

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A few snowmobiles had left tracks going to Lion Rock, but it was too soft to ride on my fatbike, so I kept on going. The snow was fast, at times I was flying at 20 mph.

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Riding on the WABDR near Lion Rock.

Riding on the WABDR near Lion Rock.

Just before the steep descent into Ellensburg, I veered off west and headed back towards Liberty. There was less snow at the lower elevation. Along the fast downhill portions, I managed to fall a couple times in the ruts left behind by cars and got my gloves a bit wet.

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Letting gloves dry a bit during a snack break.

Letting gloves dry a bit during a snack break.

Through the trees I could see the Stuart Range and up above me the Table Mountain plateau that I had just ridden. The picture below is my favorite from the whole trip. There are so many colors in the evening light and the Stuart Range looks almost plastic with the shadows thrown across the mountains.

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View of Stuart Range 1.5 hours before sunset. I had to climb a bit to get this picture.

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The road down to Liberty got pretty icy and I was sure glad to have studded tires. It would have been a bear to walk the many many icy stretches.

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The town of Liberty consists many interesting-looking wooden houses along the main street and quite a few small mining operations. Boy was it cold down there!

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Hillbilly Heaven - what is it?

Hillbilly Heaven – what is it?

Interesting statue in Hillbilly Heaven.

Interesting statue in Hillbilly Heaven.

Afterwards, it was a long grind back up to Blewett Pass. Once I turned on my light, the snow was sparkling like glitter: fairy tale night-riding.

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I was back at the car after 8 hours and later saw that someone had left messages on my car.

Cryptic messages were left: Snowmobiley :} and and I :} skidoo

Cryptic messages were left: Snowmobiley :} and and I :} skidoo

40 miles, 6200 ft., GPX file

Note on tires: The Dillinger 5 (front) and 4 (rear) had plenty of traction. There were a handful of times when I wished for more floatation and for more bite on the front. I really appreciated the studs in the tires – they made this ride possible on the many (sometimes long and steep) icy patches.

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