Last Updated: June 12, 2015

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Friday, June 12, 2015

Shoulder Season Singletrack, May 2015

Dungeness-Gold Creek Loop – touted by some as The Classic Olympics mountain bike ride, this loop has a little of everything. To quote EMBA – “There’s smooth and wide, rocky and exposed, up and down (repeat), logging road climb, fast descents, remote location, rushing river, old growth, and some definite hike-a-bike (you can avoid most of this with a start variation).” And if that isn't tempting enough, the lovely moss-lined trail through old growth forest on the Lower Dungeness combined with the exhilarating downhill for much of the Gold Creek Trail makes this ~19 miler unique and a definite must-do!

Mount Constitution – At first I was skeptical of the claims made about the mtb trails at Moran State Park. Now I can’t believe I waited so long to ride here! Super smooth duff-covered single track, outstanding views overlooking Rosaio Strait and the San Juans, and for those with parents in tow a great shuttle opportunity! A ~10 mile clockwise descent around Mount Moran then along the shore of Mountain Lake ending finally near Cascade Lake seems to be the preferred route taken by most bikers. Note that the best trails are open to mountain bikes from September 15 through May 15 each year.

Stafford Creek – I generally prefer loop rides over OAB’s such as this, but with the added bonus of hiking up nearby Navaho Peak for outstanding up-close views of the Enchantments, an exception had to be made. The amount of hike-a-bike on the ~6 mile ascent (1 mile extra to top of Navaho) detracts from the overall enjoyment, and perhaps only those comfortable with an enduro-style descent over very rough and technical terrain would appreciate this ride. That being said, hiking through the moonscape terrain below Navaho Pass (we unfortunately ditched the bikes before this part) and then ripping down the rough, rocky trail proved to be a very engaging and surprisingly fast and enjoyable descent!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

April Showers, April 2015

Just when all hope is lost, along comes a very belated April dump to remind us of what we’ve been missing all these months. And though impressive as it was, nothing short of a 100-year storm could possibly make up for the meager snowpack this year. Still something had to be made of it, so out of early retirement come the boards, pressed into service for one last hurrah down the sticky spring shmoo. See video - here.

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Winter of My Discontent, Winter 2014/15

Should have heeded the weatherman’s prediction of a “Super El Nino” or the “Blob” parked offshore or whatever it was that ruined winter this year. A couple good weeks of pow north of the 49th Parallel in December and maybe only a handful of decent days since then. And this despite the wintry mayhem that has crippled the Eastern US for much of 2015 so far. Looking out my window the sun is shining still, the trees are budding, birds are chirping and spring has clearly arrived. But anyway, the itch must still be scratched so here’s to another season of lowered expectations and relief by unexpected means.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Mission Ridge mtb, October 2014

Had an amazing day riding Mission Ridge with Tom back in October. Gorgeous views with the turning larches, sunshine and being above the cloud deck for much of the ride! Best of all, we skipped the long grueling ascent by car shuttling directly to the upper trailhead. Unfortunately the floury trail conditions we were expecting had turned to mud with a consistency of wet cement, adding considerable challenge to the steep downhill sections of trail. Knee pads are advised!

This and nearby Devils Gulch are both part of the Mission/Tronsen Ridge trail system. Having ridden Devils Gulch twice now, it was great to experience its evil twin. Long sweeping turns, wide open pine-needle singletrack through old growth and sharp switch backs make the upper portion, which is shared by both, an exhilarating ride. The trail then climbs just past the junction and is tedious at times before reaching an aesthetic stretch along the crest of a sharp ridge. A final downhill section merges again with the Devils Gulch trail towards the end. Then up to the top of #2 Canyon and down to my car in Wenatchee, which we drove back up to retrieve Tom’s car. The verdict is still out as to which of the two is best, so try both and decide for yourself…

Friday, January 30, 2015

Burroughs Mountain - Burroughs Mtn Trail, October 2014

Of the developed visitor areas in Mount Rainier National Park, Sunrise is the highest that can be reached by vehicle and is perhaps also the most scenic. Unlike Paradise for instance, Sunrise is more set back from Mount Rainier and being that it’s situated on the northeast side of the mountain means that on a clear day the enormous Emmons and Winthrop Glaciers are on full display. This and nearby features such as the Willis Wall Ice Cliff, Liberty Cap Glacier, and Liberty Ridge, which bisects the two encompasses the most dramatic and heavily glaciated faces of the mountain, or anywhere else in the lower 48 states for that matter.

Sunrise is not commonly used as a starting point for those seeking Rainier’s summit, which explains why I’ve not come this way up until now. But having sighted a mostly snowbound Sunrise from nearby Cowlitz Chimney back in June, I felt that it was about time I had a look-see. Months went by and finally with nothing else to do on a sunny Friday in October, I made a beeline for Sunrise. With no more than a week or two before the Park Service would be shuttering the facilities in preparation for winter; I set out on the trail headed for Burroughs Mountain. Burroughs is the dominant, sprawling massif west of Sunrise, and at 7828-ft it’s also the highest. An easy hike over a lunar-like tundra landscape leads to the summit of “3rd Burroughs” and from where a sensational view of the mighty Tahoma and her glaciers can be had.

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