A few years ago, I bought a rack for my car, letting me move a bike and a kayak on the roof of my car. And, by some stroke of bad luck, I got sick with bronchitis. 😦
In my infinite wisdom, I did the ride anyway; a friend drove, and hiked off on her own with a book, which let me bring the codeine-laden cough syrup the doctor had given me. I took it slow, to go easy on my throat … so slow, in fact, that a jogger passed me. This was not my proudest moment! 😮 It was a long short ride (I took about 3 hours to cover 15 miles!), but it was a happy one.
So far all but one of the rides I’ve described have been on paved roads, and suitable for 23 mm tires. I was on a cyclocross bike for this ride, with 28 mm cross tires, which were fine for this section of the trail, but just barely enough for others.
Snoqualmie Pass is, well, a mountain pass. I feel like Captain Obvious for pointing that out, but the mountains surrounding the pass (pass being another word for low point) change the local weather systems. Clouds lose their moisture – as rain or as snow – as they climb higher into the sky to cross the Cascade Crest. West of the divide is wet country, the land of thick Douglas Fir forests; east is the dry side. There’s a sharp division, and a very slow fade. You can see it in these pictures, and in some of the other trips I’ve taken recently.
The trail itself is a bit varied. I rode west as far as the Snoqualmie Tunnel – which is a fascinating place, and, hopefully, will be the subject of a future post – and east to the end of the lake before exploring a dirt forest service road (the one leading to Lost Lake) then doubling back.
At times, the trail departs from the lake entirely, and occasionally the water is hidden away behind trees, small cliffs, boulders, and hills, etc.
All the while, the plant life on the ground reveals the true story. The further east you go, the more stone crop you’ll see. Wenatchee National Forest parts ways with Snoqualmie / Mount Baker National Forest at the pass, with ponderosa pines off to the east, and a temperate rain forest to the west. On the trail, though, smaller plants give hints of the biome changes stretching out over tens of miles.
These last two pictures don’t look especially different from the first, but the puffy why clouds make a photographically ideal sky, and, on these ride reports, I’m trying to give a sense of what it’s like to ride particular routes. So I hope these won’t bore you too much.
I shot these with a Garmin Oregon 550t, a hiking GPS. You may have noticed that these look a bit different from most of the other photos on this blog – they’re more saturated, almost cartoonishly so, and they’ve got a narrower dynamic range; either the shadows are too dark, or the highlights are too bright.
The Garmin unit stopped working one day when I was hiking at Pyramid Lake in the North Cascades; it began as a hot August day, and then the sky opened up and started to pour. The GPS is supposed to be submersible. 😦 I wouldn’t recommend it as a camera or as a GPS.
This was a nice dirt ride, and the scenery is very pretty in the spring. I rode this on June 5th of 2010 … a long time ago. There’s too much snow to go out and do this ride today (in fact, I dug these pictures up while planning a snow shoe trip to this section of the Iron Horse Trail), and it will be at least several months before that changes.
Sorry if that’s an unfair tease; I posted this because, after digging the pics up, they were fresh in my mind. And because I found myself on the Iron Horse Trail in Easton last weekend, but turned back thanks to my skinny road tires. Finally, I posted this because it’s a good place to ride in the mountains on dirt.
With all that out of the way, I wouldn’t recommend following my tracks exactly. This could be the start to a great ride, but, unless you’re also very much under the weather, you might find yourself wanting more.
If anybody would like to see it, here’s the map and other info about the ride: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/167673130