Monday, December 01, 2014

Mother Mountain/Northern Loop October 11/12 2014

The Mother mountain/Northern Loop figure 8 was a part of Ultrapedestrian RAS Wilderness adventure Blogging Challenge.  This Blog is the final requirement.  This year he had three challenges.  The other was a hike down the coast which I didn't have time to do and the other was a hike around the I-90 corridor and Alpine Lakes Wilderness which was too long and i am not real interested in terraine around I-90.

This challenge was created by Kathy and utilizes part of the wonderland trail, Mother Mountain loop and Northern loop which are located on the Norht side of Mt. Rainier,  Participants are allow to start wherever they choose and go in any direction they choose but must do a figure 8, start/finish in same location, all under human power.

The Start
We drove up Friday night and slept in the back of the family SUV in the Mowich Lake Parking area.  I had considered starting at Carbon River and riding my bike up to Ipsut Creek as a starting point or starting from Sunrise.  However, the added distance and complexity this late in the season ruled those options out.

We brought some pizza with us and a few beers for the evening meal. We saved some for when we got back.  I told my 18yr old son what to bring.  I brought him along to keep me company.  I figured he could keep up with a 49 year old man.  Pretty simple list

Stuff I had for both of us

2 Kelty light year 3d 25degree bags (not really good to 25)
2 thermarest prolite full length inflatable pads
1 tent – not sure what kind.  It weighs about 4 pounds and is called a 2.5 man
Pocket rocket, some fuel and a pan
2 adventures racing large packs – old and beat up 1 saloman raid and one Gregory advent pro
Vasque light hiking shoes (think they are breeze)
First aid kit
GPS
Suunto T6

Stuff I told my son to bring and I brought for me

Fleece hat
Base shirt
Heavy fleece top
Good rain coat
Gloves
Tights
And shorts
Good socks


Food we brought:
Subway sandwiches
Mountain house meals
Fruit cups
Pop Tarts
Swedish fish
Coffee/tea
Fresh fruit
Instant oatmeal
Tuna and tortillas
Cocoa
Other misc. snacks

My plan was to fast hike, sleep at night, and eat well.  Sorry Ras no dried beans for me.  I could hike straight through but I want to take everything is as I hike.  The figure 8 was clockwise mother/counterclockwise northern loops.

We got off at about 8AM on Saturday.  I am really not a morning person.  It would have been better if we got off a bit earlier.  I saw my son was wearing a lightweight long sleeve base layer and I told him that I hoped that wasn’t his heavy fleece.  It was, but it was too late to go back. 

Ipsut Pass
We wouldn’t see anybody this day.  It was a nice hike up to Ipsut Pass; BTW it is spelled wrong on the map, and down to the Carbon River.  Last time I was at the Carbon, we drove up to the end of the road and made an unsuccessful attempt at Rainier via the Winthrop glacier.  The goal for today was to reach Lake James Camp about 30 miles which would leave up about 15 for the following day.

The weather was nice and we began the first climb of the day up to Mystic Lake.  As we reached the high point on the way to the lake, the weather closed in and it began to blow and rain.  I told him it was time to put on our rain coats.  He busted out a dragonfly like ultralight windbreaker.  Once again I asked hopefully that this wasn’t his good rain coat.  It was and this is where crap started going sideways.  We got down to the mystic lake ranger station porch where it was dry and ate our lunch.  We did not have any good options that included:

Stay put and pitch our tent
Carbon Glacier Terminus
Go back
Continue on as planned
Head for Sunrise

Mathew was soaked.  I put a plastic garbage bag on him and we pushed on.  Sunrise was the closest out and if we continued, we could decide to bail when we got to the trail junction.  The weather was building as we headed for the highest point on our route.  Meanwhile there were tornadoes in the lowlands that day.

The Calm before the storm coming into Mystic Lake
Up and over Skyscraper pass and into Berkley Park.  Heavy sideways snow with 40-50 mph steady winds.  I was good in my arc’teryx heavy fleece and raincoat but Mathew was not in a good way.  We reached the bail out to Sunrise at about 3-4PM.  It would have been 3-4 miles of more exposed hiking to I do not know what.  I did not know if there would be shelter or even anybody there or a phone.  Since I have never been there before, I was afraid that we could end up there with no shelter or way to get a ride and left exposed on a ridge.  Does anybody know, is there a lodge there?

I decided to head down into Berkeley camp.  It was significantly lower and in a treed valley where there was shelter from the wind and elements.  We pushed down fast.  Without the climbing, it was not possible for Mathew to stay warm.

We arrived at the camp and we quickly worked to set up our tent in the blowing wind.  This was a chore and caused is to relocate a few times.  Once the tent was up, I had Mathew strip his wet clothes and get in the tent in a dry sleeping bag.  We were done for the day.  There was going to be no way to dry his clothes.  I wringed them out as best I could and put them under the rain fly.  His clothes would not dry and if the weather didn’t get better, we might be here a while.  Mathew shivered and I boiled hot water for drinks and food and for a water bottle in his sleeping bag.

Now it was howling and raining sideways.  I was uncomfortable but since I had good gear, I could cook, get water, and get set up for the night.  Most of you know that when we go out together we talk about gear and what we are bringing.  We have a common understanding and do not need to check each other’s gear.  I have been out on adventures with my son and generally thought him responsible and therefore didn’t do a pack check.  This was a mistake in hindsight.

The wind and rain pounded most of the night.  I could hear large rock fall all night long.  I have never heard that much rock fall before.  As we were in a narrow steep canyon, it was a bit unnerving.  The next morning we woke up to clear cold skies.

Day 2 Grand Park
Wet clothes awaited Mathew as punishment for his poor gear choices.  We ate and packed as quickly as we could and got going.  The only way to stay warm would be to start working.  We worked our way down the valley and out onto Grand Park.  This was very nice and now that it was sunny we took time to enjoy the views.

We were now in the heart of the Northern loop, down to the Winthrop/West fork White and up to windy gap.  This was all very nice but I could tell that my son was starting to lag.  Beautiful sub alpine hike up to Windy Pass and down and out toward Yellowstone Cliffs were we saw some mountain goats.  We got back down to the carbon and stopped for lunch.  I could tell the he was getting tired but we had to push on if we were going to finish before dark. 

Going up to Windy Pass
On our way up to Seattle and Spray Parks, I would get into my heavy breathing rhythm.  This is kinda my AR trekking pass where I am pushing just at my heavy breathing limit.  Everytime I did, Mathew would ask for a rest.  I need to listen to my breathing and when it became labored, I backed off.  This climb was just another Si in my mind.

The Parks opened up in front of us.  Beautiful sub-alpine hiking.  Unfortunately, the weather was moving in again and it was getting late.  We needed to push hard into the fading light.  Unfortunately since we were not planning on hiking at night, I left my good light at home.  We rolled into Mowich about 8:30PM to eat leftover pizza and beer.

Crossing back over the Carbon River
Stats
Day 1
Time 8:20
Mileage 22.5 about
Climb 6600

Day 2
Time 10:43
Mileage 22.5 about
Climb 7300



Totals
The Finish
Trail Time 19:03 (time different than GPS because I fire it up before we leave camp)
Start to finish time about 36hrs
Mileage 44.3 about
Climb 13,900

Pictures can be found Here and I will add some to this post later

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

2013 Wilderness Challenge – Devil’s Dome Loop Day 2

During the first day I mostly imagined hiking fast and making great time on day two. As I started and headed out I realized that this backcountry was the reason for the previous day’s work. It was incredibly beautiful and isolated. I quickly decided that I was going to take my time, savior the incredible beauty and not worry about my pace.

Camp in the Morning
My plan was to hang in my bag and make/eat breakfast from my tent. Nature called me out of the tent and I wasn’t going back in. It had frozen hard the night before and still below freezing when I rolled out of the tent at 7AM. The previous night’s fire had dried my firewood and the morning’s fire started quick and was hot. I cooked by the fire and intermittently packed my gear and watched the sunrise over the eastern peaks. I like camping high in the mountains.

Jack Mtn
I am not sure when I rolled out of camp. I think it was about 8AM. The land was mine. There was nobody for miles around. I was surprised that I hadn’t seen much wildlife and only surmised that they had moved down. Later reports would confirm that I was wrong. Today’s trek was a large circ around the Devil’s Creek drainage and Jack mtn. As I moved South and West across minor drainages I looked back at where I had been the previous day: Devil’s Pass, Devils Dome and then I got a great view of the Picket range. Don Brooks and I had been there a few years back. We had done a circ of the northern Pickets and our last night was sleeping up on the high ridge of Luna Peak. I remember sleeping under the stars and watching a forest fire burn to the East. Near where I was today.

Talless field switchbacks up to the highpoint of the day and lunch
Up and down beautiful country with high alpine meadows and sweet fresh water drainages. When I climbed to the high point of the day up and over a large talles field I stopped for lunch. I took in the whole valley and looked across at Jerry Lakes. What a great remote bushwhack that would be; maybe another day. Lunch was great. I was glad I packed a lot of food. I took my boots off and savored the day’s sun.

From here I hiked down into Devil’s Park and decided that this area would be the week long Boy Scout hike I would lead in 2015. This place is incredible and I would recommend it to anybody reading this. There were campsites scattered throughout and I was thankful that Ras brought me here.

L to R Picketts, Devil's Dome, Hosmean Peaks (double hump that looks like a part of a woman)
One last small uphill to McMillan Park, which was another beautiful spot with many campsites scattered around. Still, I was getting close to the trailhead and this place was slowly losing its wilderness feel. It was truly downhill from here. I was looking forward to the gravity assist. Unfortunately, my legs were not cooperating. What should have been a fun easy jog down turned out to be a painful slog down on sore feet and untrained legs. This section was incredibly like Mt. Si (3,500 feet in 4 miles) and I thought that runners going clockwise would have a great run down to their finish.

As I finally rolled into Canyon creek, I began to notice the marks of man again. First there was a large pit which was about 10ft across and 20ft deep. I tried to understand this. Is it a cave or is there a reason that somebody would dig this hole. Further along I continued to see what looked like road beds but they ran in parallel with deep trenches between them. The hike down Ruby creek was an enjoyable river hike that reminded me of the Lewis River trail. The undulation helped my aching legs

Beautiful Alpine Meadows
As I rolled back toward the East Bank trailhead, I noticed another pit with signs next to it. This is where I learned the history of the area. Many years ago there were thousands of miners here searching for gold. The main town is now below the surface of Ross Lake. The lower road I started on was the way up to the gold fields of Ruby Creek. The holes are all that is left of miner’s claims. The parallel roads and related trenches are the diversion channels that were used to divert water from the creek bed and flush out the gold. These channels were dug by hand by thousands more Chinese laborers. This reminded me of the old stone walls I would find in the woods back east. A man’s life is spent and he is long gone. Some men’s life’s endeavors leave tracks on the Earth which are slowly erased by the passage of time.

Devils' Park Shelter
I think my total time out was 29hrs and 15minutes
I think my total time hiking was about 17:25 (At least that is what my GPS says.
Not sure of the exact mileage because my gps lost satellites in the valleys
Not sure of the elevation change because my watch batteries are dead.


Final shot - GPS a bit short because of drop satellites
But these stats are not important for me. I was not racing for time. I was taking advantage or a great opportunity to share an experience over time. It has been great to read all the other stories and experiences. For me the categories that I compete in include:

Best campsite, Devil’s Pass next to brown sign
Most campfires, 2
Most weight carried over Devil’s Dome, a lot
Longest time out, 29:15

more pics HERE.

Monday, October 07, 2013

2013 Wilderness Challenge – Devil’s Dome Loop Day 1

Ras came up with this great idea, to specify a course, in this case the Devil’s Dome Loop, and then have an open period when anybody could do the loop any how they wanted in any direction. He invited all to do it in whatever form they preferred; ultra-light trail running, fast packing, backpacking or any other means by foot. This fit me really well as I am not in running shape and definitely not in 45 mile running shape but I still want to get out in the backcountry. So I decided to fastback/backpack in two days with an overnight whereas most other participants did it in one day.
Getting ready to start
My life is super busy and my first intention was to do the trek on August 29-30 which was less than a week after returning from an 8 day bike trip. But my wife had had enough of me being gone and I postponed it until September to give her some time to recuperate from her solo watching of the kids. As it turned out, September 18-19 was the only open days I could squeeze in the trip and have my daughter watch the little boys.

After talking to Roger Micheal, I chose to do the loop clockwise for a couple of reasons. First there is about 13 miles along the East bank trail. This trail just winds its way north along the east side of Ross Lake. I have paddled the lake many times and been on parts of this trail. It is not real exciting and I just wanted to bang it out quick with fresh legs on the first day and save the mostly downhill remote section to enjoy on the second day. Finally, with the campsite that Roger suggested, it would be a few miles over half way by going clockwise and it would leave an easy mostly downhill hike for the second day. The campsite selected was Devil’s Pass which had a nearby spring.


Panther Creek coming into Ruby Creek
I had hoped to hike with a friend but I couldn’t get any schedules to fit so it was going to be a solo trip. This led me to bring a little more gear than just my minimal fast packing kit. And since I was carrying a little extra weight, a little heavier good food would be in order as well. My plan was to leave my house at 4AM and hit the trail at 8 but that wasn’t to be. Life kept me busy late the night before and I was only able to leave the house a 7AM and hit the trail at 11:45. This proved a bit problematic later on. I left from the Eastbank trailhead. The rules stipulated that you could start anywhere in the loop as long as you finished in the same spot. The first few miles were easy and mostly downhill to the Eastbank trail on an old road bed. I was a bit surprised to be on a road bed but would learn the history later on.

Bridge Over Devil's Creek
I made the turn onto the Eastbank trail put my head down and pushed fast. Along the way I ran into a group from WWU heading back in. They were a bit surprised to learn that at 2 in the afternoon my destination was Devil’s Pass. I quickly passed many of the campsites I have paddle in the past; Roland Creek, Little Jerusalem Island, May Creek, and Rainbow point fell to my pace. I carried very little water. It was raining and there was lots of fresh water around. I didn’t treat my water with anything during the whole trip. At about 4PM I reached the devils pass trail. I had a nice meal before heading up the trail and leaving the lake. The trail was nice and easy going until I got to the wilderness boundary.

This was a hard climb. Climbing out of the valley I could see the weather filtering through the drainages that fed Ross Lake and the upper Skagit drainage. I was soaking wet. The trail tread has collapsed and the brush has not been trimmed in a long time. This is the result of being a wilderness trail. In a few years it will be gone. Little use, no maintenance, just a scratch on the earth. My sons’ will probably never be able to hike this trail. This is the ultimate goal of those who propose wilderness: A land without humans. This will be an unfortunate loss.
My heavy pack and extra girth around my middle weighed on me as I climbed up to and over Devils Dome. The day was long and I reached the top at 7PM. I carried very little water up the hill wanting to conserve weight. However, there was no water down on the east side of the dome heading down to the pass. Around 7:30 I found an incredible campsite high on a ridge but with no water I had to push on. At this point my headlamp was on, along with every piece of clothing I had.

Stormy skies all week
I arrived at my camp on devil’s Pass at 8:45PM. I was wishing that I was there three hours earlier as planned but now I was cold, wet, hungry, and thirsty. On the hike in I went through my priorities, water, stove/food, fire, shelter. I hiked the short bit to the spring and filled my bottle and bladder. When I arrived back I fired up my whisper light and started cooking dinner. As it cooked I gathered firewood. Everything was wet from the day’s rain. The wind was blowing the clouds sideways through the pass collecting every drop of moisture that passed like a sieve. I gathered as much dry wood as possible and lit the fire with my fire starter nursing it to life. I piled on as much wood as I could find building up a large bonfire that served to heat and dry both me and the surrounding firewood.

Devil's Dome
The hot meal was good and warmed my bones. As I set up my tent, the clouds cleared and the temperature dropped. My bonfire raged and I went to bed happy that I packed heavy and wasn’t in a bivy sac. Coyotes lulled me to sleep.

more Pics HERE.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Day 8 August 23th West of Port Angeles

Logging Trucks
Wow it was the last day and we felt it. SR104 is a small double lane secondary highway. This means that it has steeps, no shoulders, and lots of logging trucks. While it is great to see loggers working on state lands, it is a bit scary having logging trucks bearing down on us constantly and nowhere to go. A number of times we just put it in the ditch and sometimes we couldn’t. In all cases the trucks were courteous and just doing their jobs the best they could. I waved as much as possible in hopes that they would radio our position to other truckers. I am afraid that my goofy Seattle sign I put on the back of my trailer may have made me stood out in a bad way.
Elwah river

Just over 60 miles to go

Cool old general store along the way
As we continued on, we went up and down from the Straight up into the hills and back. Our legs were not conditioned for this. Further progress meant fewer logging trucks. We lunched in a park in East Clallam Bay and as we left the rain began to fall. It only got harder the further West we rode. As we approached Neah Bay, locals stopped to talk to us. There was a festival going on and it was too bad we couldn’t stay for it. We rode through and onlookers congratulated us for making it. But we were not done yet.
Not much room here to get out of the way

Lunch in east clallum bay
We pushed on for the last few miles west on Cape Flattery road. As the rain and wind were driving in our face, it was getting close to 4, our appointed pick up time and there was no sign of our ride. We pushed onto the beach, took some pictures in the rain and looked for shelter. This was very anticlimactic. I am used to finishing the race with at least somebody to cheer you on but there was nothing but a cold driving rain.
Nice riding along the water

And the rain begins

entering the Res
We found a bus shelter on the side of the road and huddled inside near hypothermic. We put on every piece of clothing we had and fired up the stove. After a while we had to make a choice, set up the tent and get in our sleeping bags or try to make it back to Neah Bay where there were hotels, shelter and fire. Before we could make this choice our ride arrived at 5:45. I wasn’t in a very good mood and kind of tainted the atmosphere. The ride was over. We had done what we set out to accomplish. It seemed that every day there was a problem to overcome which seemed insurmountable but we worked through it.
End of the line

Found a friend to take a pic
Stats for the day72 miles 555 for trip
2,900ft ascent/3400ft descent
9hr 21min total time
more pic HERE

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Day 7 August 22th Upper Mongolia, Seattle

Some random guy early in the morning on the way to the ferry
The Road
We left Jenny’s at 5:00AM made the quick ride down on the Elliot Bay Trail to catch the 6AM ferry to Bainbridge. It was pretty unremarkable road riding for most of the day. We took whatever back roads we could find up to Port Gamble, Across the Hood Canal Bridge and 101 onward toward Sequim. We ran into a biking couple from Austria biking around the state. The guy had a great horn. Just before Sequim we got on the Olympic Discovery Trail and took it into town.
Sunrise over Elliott Bay

Coming into Port Gamble
Sequim was our third and final stop at an Alzheimer’s facility. We were lucky that both Trisha Averill and Keri Pollock of the Alzheimer’s Association were at Discovery Memory Care. Once again we had a great stop visiting residents and talking about our trip. They gave us a huge bag of food and we were off for Port Angeles on the trail.

Getting on the Olympic discovery Trail


This trail is mostly railroad grade but they have lost a lot of the right of way and bridges. So the trail is on and off public road, big drops into rivers and climbs out, and strange 90 degree turns to steep climbs. This was not what we expected but the last few miles were right down along the Strait of Juan De Fuca and it was a beautiful ride into Port Angeles. Once there we went shopping for food and talking to a nice couple from France who had been biking across the continent for the last 4 months. I marked on their map where we lived, gave them my email, and invited them to stay with us. We rode out of town to a campground, had a large meal and relished our last night on the road.

Strait of Juan de Fuca
Stats for the day
92 miles At Goal
4,400ft ascent/4100ft descent
15hr 11min total time
More pics HERE

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Day 6 August 21th Snoqualmie Pass

WackieDoodle Land
Riding down the Old Snoqualmie Road
We got up early, pushed up to the pass and down the old Denny Creek Road. We girded ourselves to the ride on I-90 down to North Bend. Lights, Helmets, all our clothes and reflective triangles on, I led down and hammered it out. Once at North Bend, we got on the Snoqualmie Valley Trail and started following Robin’s directions to the Preston Fall City Trail. I told Robin that I wanted a clean route with no multi-hour navigation extravaganzas. But that is just what he gave us – an undecipherable labyrinth on a very bad map. I traveled 5 days without a compass and today I had to break it out. Trying the get through the development on Snoqualmie ridge is a real problem. Anyone you ask is helpful but can only do it in their car with a gps. What should have taken 15 minutes took us two hours but our reward for getting through was meeting up with Jerry Gamez in Preston and having him follow us into Issaquah.
Issaquah was our second Alzheimer’s stop At Aegis Living of Issaquah where we had a great lunch with Melissa Mather and her crew. During lunch Jerry offered to look at our bikes and this is when Mathew dropped a bombshell: If he stopped pedaling, his read wheel was making a horrible noise. It had been behaving like this since Ellensburg and he had hadn’t coasted at all during the last day and a half. We called a good friend Roger Micheal who lives up in Redmond and he agreed to meet us further up the trail with a replacement wheel. Riding on at this point the railroad grade was mostly paved and we were making good time up and around Lake Washington.
What a change. I think we saw more people in the first ½ hour on the Burke Gilman trail than we had seen in the previous 6 days combined. As we rode, we were passed left right and center. They rode fast, didn’t talk much and grimaced a lot in their passive/aggressive way. Not a lot of happy people here. Like the Police said, packed like lemmings on top of shiny metal contraptions. This is the human race in the city. In a case of government inspired social correction of it residents, there were brightly colored signs all along the trail that read; “Be Super Safe”, “Stay Right Except to Pass”, “Use Your Light at Night”, “Use Your Bell or Voice When Passing”. Thereby replacing human interaction with government inspired mandates on Signs.

Since nobody seemed to be minding these signs, in a fit urban inspired madness, I began quoting these sayings to those who were not obeying the signs. I received a lot of strange looks and thought that I might get punched. In another fit of madness, I stopped where the trail crossed the UW entrance. I had a stop sign but also had a crosswalk. There were tons of cars and with this bit of inconsistent right of way; I followed the stop sign in front of the crosswalk waiting for traffic to clear. With me following the stop sign, cars were not sure if they we supposed to stop for the crosswalk and cyclists began stopping for the stop sign. Chaos ensued.
One of the many signs to help people get along

Upper mongolia in the distance
We soon saw upper Mongolia in the distance and my sister’s house grew near. While this stop was short of our goal camping spot just past Bainbridge Island, a ferry ride and 30 more miles of road where not in the cards. She was nice enough to offer her fold out couch, salmon dinner, a shower, and our fresh clothes bag were just what we needed. We cleaned out our trailers and almost fell asleep at dinner.
Our old tire collection
Stats for the day
90 miles 30 miles short of goal
1,800ft ascent/4100ft descent
11hr 34min total time

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Day 5 August 20th Ellensburg

Rejuvenation
The prior day we were scheduled to make our first stop at Hearthstone Cottage, an Alzheimer’s facility at noon in Ellensburg. That didn’t happen. I suggested that we sleep in to 6:30 and visit them for breakfast. I got up at 6AM and was busy putting my bike back together. While I called and explained the situation to Recycle Cycle of Ellensburg and my daughter tried to explain they just didn’t get it and they didn’t bother calling. I said; repair, rebuild or recreate my wheel. Instead of a rim that was presta and fit my tires, I ended up with a shraeder rim that fit the bad Wal-Mart tires. That meant that I would not be able to use my maxxis semi-slick on the new rim with all the road riding that would be coming up in the end. This was a complete disappointment and I would really like to talk with the guy who did this to understand why? But my Turner was back under me and it felt great.
We spent an hour at the facility with Joan Allyn meeting the residents and explaining what we were doing, taking pictures and having a great breakfast. We finally got out at 9AM and rode west out of town. My daughter Sarah joined us for a few miles of this ride and as we parted with Mathew yelling for Sarah to tell Jenny to look to the East on the morning of the fifth day, I hoped it would take us 5 day to get to Seattle.
I knew that once we got to Ellensburg the trail would only get better and I was not disappointed. Mathew was focused on the pass but I knew that it would only get easier than the prior days. Our goal for the day was to get past the pass and find a camping spot on the western side of the Cascade Crest. The upper Yakima River canyon is beautiful and is worthy for future exploration and a paddle trip. We had lunch in Cle Elum and were quickly back on the trail.
We met our first bike travelers and horseman at this point of the trp. We also learned from them that there was a freak lightning strike ahead the knocked out the fiber optic lines west of the pass. The trail was closed and we would be riding down I-90 from the pass to North Bend. Once again we had the wind knocked out of us. the whole trip we were looking forward to the fun ride down that part of the trail… the good news was that we would cover shorter distance, move much faster and make up lost time. We would plan on camping as close to the pass as possible and head down I-90 as close to sunrise as we could before traffic got bad. We were not looking forward to it.
Along this part of the trail it gradually climbs but given the nice trail condition the climb is not noticeable. We were back in the trees after three days and the change was welcomed. This section of the trail is beautiful including the very expensive bridges they built. I have no idea why the state spent millions of dollars on bike bridges but they were nice.

Along this part of the trail it parallels the active BNSF line. As a train passed, it scared an animal up and out of the woods between the lines. At first I thought that this was a strange place for a pussy cat and thought there must be a house nearby. Looking closer, I realized the cat was as big as my wheels and motioned Mathew to have a look. Before I could get out my camera it looked back and was gone. What was remarkable to me was that the cat was a dark brown and very scrawny. I wish I had gotten a picture. We ended up camping just east of the pass in a “backcountry” campsite. If these nice campsites were considered backcountry, I knew we were getting close to Seattle.
Stats for the day
57 miles 15 miles short of goal
1,200ft ascent/200ft descent
10hr 57min total time
More pics HERE