In planning this trip, I was sure that I wanted peace, quiet, and an amazing view. The non-groomed non-motorized SnoParks are not well advertised, so it’s not clear what to expect. Occasional reports on the WTA forum mentioned snowshoe trips up to Sun Top. If snowshoers groom the trail for me, I can probably ride up! And so, I started just early enough to avoid the mid-day heat during the ascend.
4 Subarus were parked at the Sun Top SnoPark when I arrived. Looks like I am right at home here. Then, a black full-size pickup truck parks.
And then it drives away again.
Right. Subis only. Exactly the oppose of the motorized SnoParks where it’s all big pickup trucks, all the time.
The snowed-in road was quite well traveled, and fairly easy to ride at first, but a bit higher where the snow was deeper and looser, some moron had postholed right through the snowshoe path. This made riding excruciatingly tedious and resulted in many dismounts.
Luckily, that person finally gave up after 3 miles and turned around at the first crappy view point. Then, it was amazing snow. Just tampered enough from XC skiers and snowshoers that I was able to ride, after letting air out of the tires multiple times. Each time I thought: “That’s it, I can’t let any more air out. I am going to have to turn around if it gets softer.” But then, I needed just a bit more flotation and opened the valves once more. In the end, my tires didn’t punch trough, and the tracks looked like some huge bird had left big claws marks in the snow. Thus, the climbing was slow, but successful!
Until, I came to the gate near the top, where the snowshoers had gone up the steep summer trail. From there on, it was 95% pushing. No problem, when the views are this!
I tried to ride every now and then, but the extra force required to climb pushed the tire too deep in the snow that I ended up pushing most of the way. And then, Mt. Rainier shows up suddenly.
Finally, on the approach I could ride the last bit to the lookout.
The lookout sits at just over 5000 ft.
Look a little bit closer and you see Mt. Stuart. The little house down there is the new bathroom.
The night before, a group of XC skiers had camped just below at the intersection, and on their way down, told me that I’d be the only one up here. And so it was. Beautiful weather. Good food. And quiet. Occasionally, I could hear snowmobiles or snowbikes across the valley, a good 5 miles away. I was so glad not to be over there.
After an hour, it was time to head down and see if I could ride what I had just pushed up.
All the way fun.
As I was to driving out of the SnoPark, I was stopped as some bozos blocked the road. One with with an Audi, which was lowered and running on summer tires. And his buddies got their red Jeep stuck, too, when they just had to drive into the deep snow to get around. After they winched themselves out, they towed the Audi backwards 500 ft. Entertainment of a different kind.
This was certainly a great late-season trip. I got lucky that the snow conditions were just rideable most of the way and thank the snowshoers for their grooming efforts. It took about 3 hours up, which is about how long it took me in summer when I did the Cascade Triple Crown rides.