Ape Canyon – Mount Saint Helens

I got up at O-damm early this morning to knock off a long time on “The List” trails. The Mt Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument’s Ape Canyon and Plains of Abraham trails did not disappoint. Mother Nature only allowed partial views of the mountain today which clearly means she wants me to come back. The climb up through the old growth forest spared by the eruption was sublime. Climbing up onto the plains was a WOW moment. It was amazing to see what the mountain did when it decided to give its etch-a-sketch a little shake in 1980. It’s going to take me a few days to process all of the life enrichment I took in today.

Lahar next the trail
Climbing up through old growth spared from the eruption.
Pacfic Northwest trail awesomeness!
Such an aburpt transition from the forest onto the prior devastation
Like an lunar landscape on the Plains of Abraham.
So pretty!
A snapped of tree from the eruption
Nearing Windy Gap

Banner Forest

Over the last few days the smoke has been pretty thick considering how far away the Canadian and Eastern Washington wild fires were. The day after my last ride I was pretty congested and “hackie” so I decided to forego fun on the trails for a few days.

The smoke was pretty thick.

A little bit of rain and favorable winds cleared out the smoke enough to get a ride this afternoon. I made a return to Banner Forest for some twisty fast singletrack fun.

More Green Mountain

A had another good week of getting in some good afterwork rides in out at Green Mountain State Park. Most of the week I focused on zipped over the west side of the west side of the park to get to know that side better. Plenty of trail on that side as well.

Got Beaver?

On the Tin Mine Trail.

Tin Mine shaft.
Baby waterfall

Green Mountain SP

I have been getting in some good after work rides out at Green Mountain State Park. This place is my current “local” trail with the trailhead just 10 minutes away. For my first ride back out here I kept it simple doing and out and back on the Wildcat trail to the Green Mountain peak. Round trip was 8.4 miles with 1,740 feet of climbing. The views included the Olypmics Mountains, Mt Rainer and downtown Seattle. Later in the week I was reminded that trails can come and go on timber land and following one of the trails I remembered from eight years ago netted me a solid 10 minutes of bramble bushwacking at the bottom of the far side of the mountain from where I started. I was not exactly chasing daylight at that point but once you get under the trees it seems much later in the evening. I found myself putting a bit more gitty up on the pedals to get back to the trailhead just to realize I had more daylight left than I expected. Good times!

Lower Dungeness- Gold Creek

Had a great day out on the Olympic Pennisula. I revisited the Lower Dungeness and Gold Creek loop I had done some number of years ago. The last time I was socked in with clouds but today was clear skies and sunshine. Such good singletrack. I do have some tweaks to make to my review of this trail. Look for those at some point.

Siouxon Creek Trail

The last day on my commute up the coast trip included a return to the Siouxon Trail which I rode a portion of like 15 years or so ago. This time I did a much bigger chunk of it that included some rough climbing on bits that do not see anywhere near the traffic the stuff along the creeks. Fantastic waterfalls and pools along side the trail were just killer. Really good stuff. I am going to update my site on this trail.

Loamy narrow awesomeness!
I forget the scientific name for this berry but I believe its called Bear Food.
One of many falls
I did say many right?
Yep, I sure did
The trail goes across the top of this one.
I believe the scientific for this is Clover Freakinyuugeus
Even my bike looks tired in this photo.

Newberry Hills

Here are a few pictures from one of the last rides I did while up in the Seattle area. 

This place was pretty close to Bremerton and was a mesh of tight and twisty XC trails.   

The trails were for the most part fairly atechnical  but I have to admit that muscling around my slack and long wheel-based bike around the twisty bits was a bit challenging ing spots.

The trail elves have been at work out here.

While I had a good time riding out here, I would have really loved to have had my snappy hardtail to flick around this trail network.   Right tool for the job or not anytime you can get out in the woods is a good time in my book.

Kachess Ridge, WA

This past weekend, I headed out over the Snoqualmie Pass area about 70 miles east of Seattle to check out the Kachess Ridge trail.  I have passed through this area a handful of times over the years between MTB and flyfishing trips and I had eye-balled the mountains through here on every occasion.  The ride is billed as dirt road climb that seems to go on forever followed by a singletrack that you wish would go on forever.  It was time to find out first hand.

   

The first part of the ride is along a mildly undulating dirt road that heads north above the eastern shore of Kachess Lake.    The lake is quite large but its rather difficult to see the expansive view due to all the trees.    It was kinda fun keeping an eye out for the open spots in the trees here and there than offered views of the lake.  This was a good mellow six miles or so of a cruising warm up. 

The cruise fest was soon over as I turned up onto a forest road that started working its way up onto the mountain.   The grade was fairly steep in places and I was reminded that my UZZI is optimized for festivities in the downhill direction.   I would gain around 2,700 feet in just under the next five miles.  There were numerous little brooks along the climb.  I’m nearly always surprised at how loud even just a little bit of moving water can be.  I couple of times I was expecting a torrent of water ahead only to see just a little spit of water in a real hurry.

The further up the climb I went the better views kept getting and with the lake as a reference below it was easy to see how much elevation you were gaining.  I’m pretty sure I was past the halfway point when the iconic Mount Rainer starting making an appearance above the far ridgeline.  While working up the climb and stopping here and there to take some pictures, I met up with a couple local riders, Mike and Justin, working thier way up as well.   I was pretty happy to see that they were also working some long-legged bikes up the ridge as well as it gave some hints that maybe the downhill had some terrain worthy of the rigs.

We would leap frog each other a couple of times before the forest road eventually went up to a saddle on Kachess Ridge.   The photo above completely fails to capture the true beauty of the landscape.

From the saddle it was time to the leave the forest road behind and hit some singletrack.  Here is where Mike and Justin’s local knowledge came in mighty handy as the published route does not include a newer trail that is more contouring and a good bit of fun. The kind of fun you have when narrow trails test your ability to stay on line while wildflowers brush your legs on both sides.  This first bit of trail was a sweet little descent  that all too soon rejoined the main trail and turned into a tough hike-a-bike over the 1/3rd of a mile or so up to the saddle between the spires in the photo above.

Above are some of the views along the hike a bike section.   The hike-a-bike was both steep and rocky with some scree to contend with.   Some of my best epic adventures ever have included hike-a-bike bits so I tend to view them with a sense of optimism for trail goodness to come.  Then again I have had some nearly former friends threaten to eviscerate me on the side of the trail for some “new stuff” exploration gone wrong.  

For this SoCal boy, anytime a hike-a-bike across snow in mid-August is required, it automaticaly puts the ride soundly in the cool category.  

Once over the saddle, sweet trail goodness was indeed in bountiful supply.     It was good.  Real Good.   So much so that I selfishly (and unapologetically) blazed past a ton of Kodiak moments as the trail shed elevation through alpine meadows and evergreen forest goodness.  

 For you SoCal Peeps, there were sections of rocky chunky bits that conjured up thoughts of Noble Canyon  while other sections would make you think of the steep hillsides of the Santa Ana River Trail except the trail was pointed in a much more downhill direction.   Of course this trail had the awesome Pacific Northwest forested feel to it with lots of greenery.   Yeah it was good!

The final section of the trail gets pretty steep as it cashes out over 1,000 feet of elevation in a little over a mile.   There are plenty of switchbacks through this section and some of them can sneak up on you.    Additionally there are a couple of these switchbacks where you simply do not want to blow the turn due to the  exposure.   I wish I had more pictures of this section to share but the little devil on my left shoulder was whispering evil things in my ear like “EFFF Everyone Else –Ride You Fool, Ride!”.  The only thing I was able to make out over all wind noise coming from angel on right shoulder was lots of giddy giggles and “Whaaat heeeee saaaaid!”     This was not a suckie day to be on a bike!

A Couple More Duthie Hill Pics

Ahhh more stuff from Duthie Hill

I was here earlier in the year and since then the trail elves have been busy working on Phase 2 of the Duthie Hill Park.   I like this over-under setup, cool.

The real reason for this post it that I did a tweaks to the blog software and only way to fully test it is to make a new post. 

So isn’t these much better than some “This is only a test” image?