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Tourus Interruptus day 2

Monday, January 23rd, 2017
Tourus Interruptus day 2 - NFE at Keechelus Lake

NFE at Keechelus Lake

I awoke to a clear, cool morning in the midst of the Cascade Mountains. After making breakfast and breaking down camp I discovered that the outhouse at the Cold Creek Campground was locked.  This didn’t bode well. I wasn’t too far from the Hyak Trailhead so I rode back up there to use the facilities. While there my rear tire went flat. This was not a great shock as the rear tire was quite worn with at least one hole in it which had led to this flat. I patched the tube, booted the tire and ended up having lunch at Hyak.  So it was after noon before I was back on the trail heading east.

Tourus Interruptus day 2 - Second tunnel on the IHT

Second tunnel on the IHT

Just past Snoqualmie Pass you are in the midst of the Cascades on a high plateau surrounded by mountains.  There are a number of reservoirs up here which feed Seattle and other Western Washington cities.  So for several miles the trail winds around Keechelus Lake and is quite level.  The east side of the mountains is dryer, but up this high, it isn’t a drastic change. The underbrush thins out, things are less green, there are more pines than firs and so on. As one travels further and further east the flora changes a lot more dramatically. The valley opens up and there are dry, brown grassland, sparse stands of pines and much less shrubbery. In contrast to the tans, browns and yellows is the deep blue of Lake Easton, the turquoise of the Yakima River and as I left the trail, the rocky green Cle Elum River.

Tourus Interruptus day 2 - Looking east on the Cle Elum River

A dog playing in the Cle Elum River

I left the trail and headed north toward the small town of Roslyn. Best known as the setting of Cicely, Alaska in the TV show Northern Exposure, the town has had a recent resurgence as a hub for mountain recreation.  Getting there by bicycle was pretty straightforward though there was a nice stiff climb up the valley wall.  These are all roads that aren’t designed to accommodate bicycles but generally there were good shoulders. Due to my late start I arrived in town around dinnertime and finding the Roslyn Brewery closed I settled on The Brick Saloon. It was taco night at The Brick, which I didn’t indulge I did partake of a Roslyn Brewery Pale Lager which sure helped wash away forty kilometers of trail dust.

Tourus Interruptus day 2 - The Brick

The Brick, in Roslyn, WA

The sun was low in the sky once I left Roslyn and rode out to Cle Elum Lake. There are campground all around the northern end of the lake (the boundary of the Alpine Lakes wilderness) and I basically planned to just ride until it was near dark.  The road along the lake was all ups and downs and until I entered the Wenatchee National Forest it was pretty dense with upscale “cabins”.  It was pretty deep gloaming by the time I reached Red Mountain Campground and it was a few more miles to the next ‘ground, so I deemed it prudent to stop for the night.

 

Tourus Interruptus day 2 - Cle Elum Lake

Dry end of Cle Elum Lake

There was only one other group of campers on a Tuesday night in Mid-September.  A group of college age kids they were definitely having a good time. I camped as far away from them as the ‘ground allowed and only heard the occasional exuberant shout.  But it cools right down once the sun is gone and soon enough all of us were in our respective domiciles.

Photos taken today: Tourus Interruptus Day 2
Complete Tour photoset: Tourus Interruptus

Posted from Roslyn, Washington, United States.

Tourus Interruptus day 1

Monday, January 16th, 2017

Tourus Interruptus day 1 - Iron Horse State Park

In 2016 I undertook three tours, the last of which end abruptly. This is the tale of that tour. My plan was to take the bus up to North Bend and then ride to the Iron Horse Trail which I would then take nearly to Cle Elum.  From there I’d ride to Roslyn, Cle Elum Lake and then to a campground on the very edge of the Alpine Lakes region.  There I would camp for several days and hike toward The Enchantments.  Finally I’d make my way back.   I also thought if it looked good, that do the Stampede/Tacoma Pass loop off of the Iron Horse Trail. So this was going to be a mixed-terrain, bike packing, hiking adventure in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness region of the Cascades.

Tourus Interruptus day 1 - Dappled woods on the I-P Trail

Issaquah-Preston Trail

I left Beacon Hill in Seattle September 12th for a week long jaunt before 9am.  A good start! I rode a couple of kilometers to a bus stop on I-90 where I caught  Sound Transit 554 to Issaquah. Unfortuently I was too late to make the connection for King County Metro 208 up to North Bend. As that bus only runs every two hours (!) I decided to ride up to it’s last stop before entering I-90 and meet it there.  So I rode through Issaquah and onto the Issaquah-Preston Trail. Absolutely glorious day, with a pure blue sky, and the sun filtering through the trees.  Being mid-September it was comfortably warm but not hot.  Looking to be a great week in the mountains. I made it to High Point where that bus stop was with still more than an hour till the bus would arrive.  Oddly there was a car fully in the ditch in the freeway underpass. I decided that I would give up on the bus and just ride on from here.

Tourus Interruptus day 1 - Snoqualmie Falls

Snoqualmie Falls

I continued on the Issaquah-Preston Trail, to Preston where I then transitioned to the Preston-Snoqualmie Trail.  All familiar routes so far.  But instead of the various ways of working my way up to Snoqualmie Ridge, I instead rode down to Fall City and then up the road to Snoqualmie Falls.  With all the attempts I’ve made to avoid this route with a full touring load, it turned out to really be no big deal. It’d be less fun for sure with dense tourist traffic, but on a Monday morning mid-September, not bad at all. I arrived at Snoqualmie around noon, so of course lunch was at the Snoqualmie Falls Brewery.

Tourus Interruptus day 1 - Rattlesnake Ridge

Rattlesnake Ridge

It was pretty warm in Twin Peaks, err North Bend and I was happy to get back into the woods and make my way further up into the mountains.  I was going to be riding all the way across the back and camping on the east side this night (why I wanted to bus to North Bend and cut out some riding) so there was a lot of miles on gravel ahead.  The ride through the woods was quite enjoyable.  The seasons are always in advance in the mountains and the signs of Autumn was everywhere. Yellow, golden and red trees stand out amidst the bountiful evergreen trees.  People were out, but with it being during the workweek and school back in session, there were no crowds.

Tourus Interruptus day 1 - Foothills 2

Autumn in the Cascades

Long distances on gravel wears you down, the extra resistance, the vibration in your hands, needed to hold on more firmly to the handlebars. Riding the Upper Snoqualmie Trail and then the Iron Horse Trail for around forty kilometers, you definitely feel it. These trails keep to a minimal grade, around 2-3% but it does so for pretty much the whole way. That just adds to the effort required. But it is great to be in the woods, in the foothills and the Cascades. I-90 is always nearby, but you are completely out of traffic and I love it.   The sun sets early in the mountains, even on the longish days of the end of summer.  The shadows were getting longer as I rode through the two mile long Snoqualmie tunnel.

Tourus Interruptus day 1 - Moonrise over Hyak

Moonrise over Hyak

Through the tunnel I was at the Hyak trailhead. I stopped there briefly but soon rode the last few kilometers to Cold Creek Campground.  There I filtered water, made dinner, setup camp and all of the other details of camping out in the woods.  Soon it was dark and cold and I was happy to get into my tent in the moonlight and retire for the night.

Photos taken today: Tourus Interruptus Day 1
Complete Tour photoset: Tourus Interruptus

Posted from Snoqualmie Pass, Washington, United States.

Three Days on the Iron Horse Trail part 3

Sunday, August 16th, 2015
Memorial Day Mini-Tour day 3 - Snoqualmie Falls and the Salish Lodge

Snoqualmie Falls and the Salish Lodge

It was again nice and cool in the mountains, for which I remained a bit under clothed.  But I slept pretty well on this night after two days of hard riding and there is nothing better then waking up in the woods to the calling of birds. I packed up, cooked breakfast, washed up and got out in a fairly timely manner.  As I was riding away there was a loud rubbing sound and I pulled over to find my rear tire flat.  Pumping it up did no good, so I returned to camp.

Memorial Day Mini-Tour day 3 - Tenting at Cold Creek Campground

Tenting at Cold Creek Campground

This I have to say is the first real flat I may have ever had on the several sets of Schwalbe Marathon Pluses I’ve used.  On pulling out the tube I discovered that it had split on a seem. Considering that I transferred this tube over from the last set I had put over 10,000 miles on it’s possible it had just worn out. But still I’ve had no punctures on the Pluses. I replaced the tube and returned to the trail.

Memorial Day Mini-Tour day 3 - Looking up Cold Creek

Looking up Cold Creek

I returned to the trail right above Cold Creek and was in the soft gravel section of the trail.  Since there was only about three miles of that, it meant I was back at Hyak in pretty short order. I took advantage of the running water there to wash up better after my tire changing adventure. Again it was mostly clear skies here, but mists were pouring over the mountain indicating that there was plenty of clouds on the west side.

Memorial Day Mini-Tour day 3 - Hyak

Looking west from the Hyak Trailhead

There was a lot less people at the trailhead on Memorial Day proper then there was yesterday. I looked forward to a more sedate trip through the Snoqualmie Tunnel.  Since on this day I was heading all the way home, but starting a almost fifteen miles further away I was going to be pushing the whole day to not arrive home to late.  But it was also going to be a lot more downhill, including all of my time on the IHT after the tunnel. So I didn’t spend much time at Hyak and soon hit the tunnel.

Memorial Day Mini-Tour day 3 - East Entrance to the Snoqualmie Tunnel

East Entrance to the Snoqualmie Tunnel

There was only a few other travelers making the trek through the tunnel. It seemed to me that there was no point in the two mile stretch where I couldn’t see light from the entrance in my mirror or from the exit ahead. Which I think goes to show just how perfectly straight this tunnel is.  On the other side I took off some of my warmer clothes and took in the scene on the western side. There was clouds and mists everywhere, just pouring off the mountain peaks and into the valleys. But looking to the west it was clear it was breaking up.

Memorial Day Mini-Tour day 3 - Peaks and Valleys

Peaks and valleys in the mists

I had about thirty miles to ride on the trail but it was all gently sloped downwards.  I pushed it all the way, thinking that I’d  try to get to Snoqualmie for lunch. I stopped a few times to take pictures as the mists broke up and more of the surroundings became clearer. It began to warm up a bit, though it mostly a chilly (though not cold) descent.  There was a few other people on the trail, but nothing like the day before.

Memorial Day Mini-Tour day 3 - Sun breaking through the mists

Sun breaking through the mountain mists

Beyond those few photo stops I kept up a good pace on the hard packed gravel trail.  It took me less then two hours to make it back to the Cedar Falls trailhead.  Once again I rode out to the Environmental Center to take advantage of the water fountains. I hadn’t bothered to filter water back at camp as I had enough left over to make it this far, if I was judicious with my use. That all worked out as planned and after filling up I took back to the trails now following the Upper Snoqualmie Valley Trail into Snoqualmie.

Memorial Day Mini-Tour day 3 - Atlantis on the trestle

Atlantis on a trestle on the IHT

Riding on the Snoqualmie Valley Trail in mid-day was definitely a more scenic experience then at dust when I’d come up two days ago. I was able to see into the woods at the various houses,  resorts  and private camps along the Snoqualmie River and look much further up the rivers at the various crossings. But I was ready for lunch and I stayed on the bicycle most of the time pushing ahead into Snoqualmie.

Memorial Day Mini-Tour day 3 - Rattlesnake Ridge Detial

Rattlesnake Ridge

When I arrived in Snoqualmie I decided to return to Snoqualmie Falls Brewery as I’d been pining for another  Pre-Prohibition Pilsner. This time I lingered and had lunch as well.  I’d made good enough time that I decided that I didn’t have to just push my way home so I rode through Snoqualmie taking pictures of the train graveyard. While I was doing this I heard the short line tourist stream train coming up the tracks and I hastily pulled over and managed to get a shot of the engine just as it steamed past.

Memorial Day Mini-Tour day 3 - Snoqualmie Steam Engine

Snoqualmie Steam Engine

I then decided to head up to Snoqualmie Falls, which I’ve visited often and always enjoy seeing. Definitely the premier waterfall close to Seattle not to mention being a prominent feature of Twin Peaks plus the home of the regionally well regarded Salish Lodge means it draws a lot of tourists. So I never linger long, but I always enjoy spending a few minutes gazing into the endlessly cascading sheets of water.

Memorial Day Mini-Tour day 3 - Snoqualmie Falls Closeup

The Falls


After gazing into the hypnotic falls for some time I bought a few postcards, filled up my water bottles and headed out. I took a different route back, which I have to say is definitely the best route to take returning from the area. I rode hwy 207 to Fall City which descending on is a much better deal than climbing up what with all the traffic. This leads to Fall City where I I took the Preston-Fall City Road until I was able to connect with the trails in Preston. You do climb a bit up to Preston on this route, but nothing compared with climbing up to Snoqualmie Ridge. The road has a wide should and while there is plenty of traffic, it’s fine and you aren’t on it for many miles. Definitely the shortest and least hilly way back. Then it was just taking the various trails back to Seattle:  Preston-Snoqualmie Trail,  Issaquah-Preston Trail, and the  I-90 Trail portion of the Mountains to Sound Greenway. Then it was up the greenway to Beacon Hill and home. I’d made it home by 7pm, still light out and enough time to shower, make dinner and relax a bit before bed.  

Memorial Day Mini-Tour day 3 - No Shooting

My sentiments exactly

Overall it was a great trip, if much too short. There is so much to explore in the Central Cascades that one could easily spend another 3-4 days there without even riding much further east on the Iron Horse Trail. Cle Elum and Rosyln would provide towns with plenty of breweries, coffee shops, restaurants and grocery stores. Then there are just endless miles of forest roads to ride around with such attractions as Stampede Pass, Tacoma Pass and the ghost town of Lester. Lake Easton State Park looks like a nice place to stay and check out the lake and I’m sure there was more stuff around Keechelus Lake as well.  Then there was just countless hiking trails right off the IHT which I would love to stash the bicycle and spend so time checking out. I know for sure I’ll be back to do more extensive explorations.

early season dragonflies
dancing, dancing —
how quickly the sun sets

Miles ridden today: 68
Miles ridden total: 181
Photographs:  this day/all days

Posted from Fall City, Washington, United States.

Three Days on the Iron Horse Trail part 2

Sunday, August 2nd, 2015
Memorial Day Mini-Tour day 2 - Rando's disappearing into the Snoqualmie Tunnel

A trio of randonneurs disappearing into the Snoqualmie Tunnel.

  I awoke to find it damp with streams of mist running down the trail. I made breakfast and broke camp and then walked down to Alice Creek to clean my dishes. A lively creek that ran though trees and over rocks into an aged cement culvert under the trail where it disappeared from my view. As I returned to camp a hiker came up asking me for directions to a side trail, which I had happened to notice the sign for the day before so I was able to help him out.  I had to filter water for this day, which with my tiny little hikers Katydyn takes some time. So after all of this it was nearly 11 by the time I left.  This was my day solely on the trail so I could take as much time as I wanted, but it would limit how far east I could go.

Memorial Day Mini-Tour day 2 - Culvert under the IHT

Alice Creek vanishing into a culvert

The trail was heavily fogged in, limited the views down onto the I-90, but the ever present white noise of traffic filtered up. It turned out to be a pretty short ride up the trail to the next campground at Carter Creek, which looked nicer than Alice Creek Campground in that the camping sites were right on the river. There was a group of cyclists camped there though, so Alice Creek had that going for it.  I rode on and not much further on came up the next big landmark on my way up to the tunnel: the avalanche shelter.  Back when this was an active railway, it got plenty of snow and there was of course not other route up to these areas. So they built huge wooden shelters that the trains could hunker down in when an avalanche occurred. These were built in the regions were avalanches were common but there is only one remaining at least on this side of the mountains.

Memorial Day Mini-Tour day 2 - Atlantis in the avalanche shelter

Avalanche Shelter on the Iron Horse Trail

From the avalanche shelter it was only a few more miles to the Snoqualmie Tunnel. It was still very foggy on this side of the pass by it seemed to be receding a bit. At least I could see more of the slopes surrounding me and the lush greenery that this early warm spring weather has brought. This is my third time riding up to the tunnel, the first time the trail was still covered with snow near the tunnel which hadn’t been opened up for the season. The second time I rode up it was drizzly and cold and I rode through the tunnel after sunset and then turned around and rode home in the dark.  This would be the first time that I significantly rode on the east side.

Memorial Day Mini-Tour day 2 - Creek down the hill

Little waterfall up by the Snoqualmie Tunnel entrance.

I reached the tunnel entrance a bit after noon and as I pulled up I there was three randonneur-ish looking cyclists at the entrance. As I passed them one took a look a my bicycle and called out 650 or 700? Somehow I grokked what he was asking (about my wheel size) and replied 700. He immediately lost interest and went back to his preparations. “Cool bike” another one called out. Having ridden though the tunnel before I knew it was refrigerator cold and that icy water could drip on you at points. So I pulled over, took some pics and put on all my rain gear. My generator lights are always on, but I turned on my bright “be seen” handlebar light (which I don’t run on trails normally) and hit the tunnel.

Memorial Day Mini-Tour Day 1 - Snoqualmie Tunnel Westside Entrance

Snoqualmie Tunnel Westside Entrance.

The other time I rode through the tunnel it was deep twilight and I only saw a few other people. This time noon-ish on a Saturday during Memorial Day Weekend there were throngs of people.  Endless streams of riders, people walking through with no lights, a guy standing right in the middle at the eastern end filming people with his cell phone.  It was cold and there was those icy drips of water, but mainly I was happy to get through the tunnel to get away from the crowds.  The explanation for the crowds was clear as just a few hundred feet past the east entrance was the Hyak trailhead which was a major destination with a huge parking lot, bathrooms and even showers. The parking lot was packed with people who had driven up to do day hikes or rides.

Memorial Day Mini-Tour day 2 - Mist rolling down the slope

Mist rolling down the slopes at Hyak

I had lunch at the picnic tables at Hyak, cleaned up in the nice bathrooms and then continued east.  I had several options for what to do this day, but since I’d taken a fairly late start I decided that I mainly just wanted to ride as far east as I could.  Tentatively I thought I’d ride most of the to Cle Elum and then do a short ~5 miles off the trail to Roslyn for dinner.  With that rough plan in mind I returned to the trail.

Memorial Day Mini-Tour day 2 - Atlantis on Keechelus Lake

On Keechelus Lake

The trail outside of Hyak quickly became very soft and sandy which would persists for about 4 miles.  It was quite flat as I rounded Keechelus lake, a large mountain reservoir with a  dam at the far eastern end.  As I got further from the pass the clouds began to break up and it was warming up a bit.  Not far from the end of the lake was the first of the two trailside campgrounds on the east side.  The second campground was just another four miles away.  The trail had turned back into handpicked gravel and the ride was quite pleasant. Warm, not too hot with clouds and blue skies.

Memorial Day Mini-Tour day 2 - Waterfall landscape

Waterfall just off the trail

I steadily made my way east, stopping to check out the scenery and take photographs. There were little waterfalls off the trail and several river crossings, the most major of which was the Yakima River.  Not far past that large river I came upon Lake Easton where you could take a spur trail to Lake Easton State Park. A big state park along the north side of the lake, it was well attended this warm Memorial Day Weekend.  If I’d had another day for this trip I would have gotten a campsite and left my camping gear here and done more eastside explorations unloaded.  This is definitely a trip I will do another time, as not far from here is a whole network of forest roads that one could explore.

Memorial Day Mini-Tour day 2 - Lake Easton

Lake Easton.

Memorial Day Mini-Tour day 2 - Riders in the tunnelJust past a large trestle that crossed over the southern tip of Lake Easton I came upon another tunnel just as a pair of horse rides came through. Horses on the Iron Horse Trail!  I came out of the woods a bit further on and was in the tiny town of Easton. The trailhead just outside of town had good fresh water, one of the few places to get potable water on the trail. I filled my bottles and continued east. I was now in a wide open flat mountain valley and the terrain had shifted to reflect the dryer climate. Dry brown grass, hard scrabble shrubbery, much less undergrowth, well spread out pines and so one. You could smell sage and mesquite every now and again and it was as warm as it would get on this trip.   The wind had really picked up as well coming from the west pushing me along the trail.  The trail looked like nothing more then a gravel road running along the farmland and through the thin mountain trees.

Memorial Day Mini-Tour day 2 - Arid Central Washington Plateau

Arid Central Washington Plateau

Just a about 5 miles outside of Cle Elum and a mile or so before I’d have to turn off for Roslyn, I decided I had to head back. It was already late in the afternoon and if I rode the ~7 miles to Roslyn and spent any time there I’d wouldn’t be back to even the more eastern campground until dark.  I had to ride all the way home the next day and I knew it would be better to make it to the more western campground.  So at a road crossing, I paused for a short break and then turned around into the now quite stiff headwind.

Memorial Day Mini-Tour day 2 - Tunnel ahead

Tunnel on the trail

Riding back to Easton was quite the struggle in this headwind which just added to the gravel trail in creating resistance I had to push against.  I was happy to reach the trailhead there and fill up all my water bottles as well as my water bladder for the nights cooking.  I consulted Google Maps and rode into Easton and then over to I-90 where I crossed on an overpass and went to a little store attached to a gas station. I picked up a bit of food to supplement my dinner and as I left ran into a Rivendell fan who questioned me a bit about my Atlantis and my ride.  From there I rode over to the State park and though it to that spur trail that connected back to the Iron Horse Trail.

Memorial Day Mini-Tour day 2 - Riding back along Keechelus Lake

IHT along Keechelus Lake.

Then it was just a retread of my route to Keechelus Lake and the two trailside campgrounds. Knowing that it’d be easier tomorrow if I pushed it to the second one, I decided this was a good choice as there was a large group at the first one. Four miles up the trail was Cold Creek Campground which I reached just before 8pm in the twilight. There was a family there in the best spot down by the river, but I found a nice spot in the trees and quickly set up and made dinner.  As I washed up after dinner I talked to the family a bit, it turned out they had down a similar trip as I did, though they had driven to North Bend where they started out.  It was nearly completely dark by the time I had cleaned everything up and put things away. I walked out to look at the lake to see a half moon rising out of the trees.

a pale pink half moon
rises between two trees —
spring winds stir the lake

Miles ridden today: 60m
Miles ridden to date: 123m
Photographs:  this day/all days
Iron Horse Trail Eastern Side Map.

Posted from Snoqualmie Pass, Washington, United States.

Three Days on the Iron Horse Trail part 1

Saturday, July 11th, 2015
Memorial Day Mini-Tour Day 1 - Setting off

Loaded Atlantis at Jefferson Park

This year I’m not going to be able to do any extended touring, so I’m attempting to make the most of three-day weekends and overnight trips.  As I’ve noted in these pages it has been quite warm this spring so when Memorial Day Weekend rolled around I finally decided to do a trip I’ve been planning for years: ride a good chunk of the Iron Horse Trail.  Iron Horse State Park is a narrow park that surrounds the trail which runs from Rattlesnake Lake near North Bend to the Columbia River following the Chicago-Milwaukee-St. Paul-Pacific Railroad. More than 100 miles of trail extends from the trailhead at Cedar Falls to the Columbia River.  The railroad of course continues on past the Columbia and so does the trail, though it is not a state park and is run by the DNR. Reportedly it’s quite primitive and more of a horse camping route.

Iron Horse Trail West

Iron Horse Trail Western Side Map (pdf)

I chose to ride to the trailhead though I seriously considered taking the bus to North Bend in order to maximize my time on the trail. It is a pretty decent journey to North Bend from Seattle with much more up and down and steep climbs then on the trail itself. But if I can ride I like to and in the end I decided that it’d be nice to do some road riding along with the many miles of gravel trail I’d be on (for a recent report on a multi-modal IHT trip, check out this Seattle Bike Blog post: Bus-bike-backpacking on the IHT).

Memorial Day Mini-Tour Day 1 - Trolly in Issaquah

Issaquah Valley Trolley

Hobo ArtAs usual I got off a little later than planned, but I still pretty quickly got into touring mode.  I followed the usual route following the Mountains to Sound Greenway to Issaquah where I stopped to eat lunch. I had packed some sandwiches and I stopped at Issaquah’s Depot Park to eat it. Well while I was there I found the Issaquah Valley Trolley up and running and an art exhibit in the Depot Museum from Shaun Doll that utilized the symbols that hobos used to communicate: Hobos and Homelessness. I didn’t end up riding the trolley, but I did spend some time checking out the art and the railroad exhibits. I’ve encountered hobo signs before in various places and interestingly enough had just been discussing come that had shown up near the Columbia St. onramp in Pioneer square near where I work.

Memorial Day Mini-Tour Day 1 - Atlantis on the Preston Snoqualmie Trail

On the Preston-Snoqualmie Trail

From Issaquah I followed the Issaquah-Preston Trail which is a hard packed gravel trail that runs along I-90 to the Preston-Snoqualmie Trail which is paved and heads northeast-ish, both of which I’ve ridden many times. Now the real missing link in the Mountains to Sound Greenway which I’m pretty much following all the way is from this trail to the Upper Snoqualmie Valley trail which connects to the Iron Horse Trail.  There are basically three options: ride along I-90 for a stretch, descend into the Snoqualmie Valley and take the lower Snoqualmie Valley Trail, or work your way up Snoqualmie Ridge and then into Snoqualmie. The short, but steepest, route is up onto Snoqualmie Ridge and this time Google Maps hooked me up with a route through there. You exit the Preston-Snoqualmie Trail at Alice Lake road and ride the very (very) steep road up to the Lake. The road dead ends around the lake but Google Maps had routed me onto a power line trail the connects to a housing development trail network on Snoqualmie Ridge.

Memorial Day Mini-Tour Day 1 - Wetland

Wetlands near Alice Lake

It was at this point that I encountered the only real snafu of the day: I went the wrong way on this trail.  Google Maps was very ambiguous, with just a Turn left off of the road that I was on. But it curved around and it wasn’t clear whether they were including this curve and then the turn on the trail in which case the direction wasn’t clear. I have a strong sense of direction, but since I’d gone on a winding road up to Lake Alice and then perhaps two-third’s of the way around the lake and I didn’t know what GM was doing, I made the wrong choice. I basically took this power line trail, which became increasingly rough, almost all the way back to where the Preston-Snoqualmie trail crosses the Preston-Fall City Road. At that point I consulted a map app and figured out what I’d done wrong and backtracked. Once I got back to where I should have been it turned out to be less than a mile on this trail before exiting onto the nicely paved Snoqualmie Ridge Trails.

Memorial Day Mini-Tour Day 1 - On a powerline trail

Powerline Trail

PreprohibitionPilsnerThe downside of climbing up to Snoqualmie Ridge is that you have climbed quite hight and then you take a screaming descent into Snoqualmie. This of course is altitude that you will slowly regain as you work your way up the pass. If you take the Snoqualmie Trail from the valley you don’t do this superfluous climbing. But it is more circuitous and longer (and you still descend from Preston into the valley). The trail interests Snoqualmie’s Centennial trail, a short trail that runs almost from the Falls into town. This trail would be the continuation of the Preston-Snoqualmie trail if they were still running a tourist steam engine on the chunk of the line that runs by the falls. I got into Snoqaulmie around 3:30, a bit later than planed, and was tired and hungry enough from the extra riding that I went straight to the Snoqualmie Falls Brewery for some snacks and beverages. I was quite pleased to see that the brewery had their summer beer, a Pre-Prohibition Pilsner, which is one of my favorite beers when I’m really thirsty. I’m not much of a lager fan but there is so much more character in this pre-prohibition recipe which since they brew it with ale yeast might be why I like it so much…

Memorial Day Mini-Tour Day 1 - River Crossing

Crossing the Snoqualmie River

After recuperating at the brewery it was a pretty quick jaunt around Snoqualmie and the backroads to North Bend (home of the Double R) where I connected onto the upper Snoqualme Valley Trail. From here on out I’d be riding on gravel with a very slight grade.  It’s nicely hardpacked gravel and that grade is slight, but the combination of the two means that you never make as good of time as you think you would. I was needing to make good time at this point as I was well behind my itinerary due to the late start, the wrong turn and the unplanned stop at the brewery.  You ride through some far flung suburb’s, cross the Snoqualmie River and then into the woods up to Rattlesnake Lake. The Cedar Falls Trailhead, the western terminus of the Iron Horse Trail, is on the north edge of Rattlesnake Lake.  Nearby is the Cedar River Watershed environmental center which is the last tapwater you will find until you are across the pass. I filled up my bottles, as well as an extra 2-litre bladder and finally set of on the Iron Horse Trail.

Memorial Day Mini-Tour Day 1 - Major Trestle crossing

Trestle Crossing on the Iron Horse Trail

This was an overcast day in contrast to the last few weeks and as I climbed into the mountains I reached into these clouds which streamed down the spring green slopes.  The light was dwindling and with few exceptions the remaining people on the trail were all heading west back home.  The trail was nicely packed gravel and the large ballast the used to be on all the trestles had been removed and could be found in large piles on either end.  Several sections along this first part of the route are shear rock walls that are popular climbing destinations. Most of these were empty at this late hour, though I saw a few climbers heading home. The trail slowly climbs until I-90, which it pretty well parallels, is far below.  The wash of traffic though was always present, sometimes more distant, but always in the background.

Memorial Day Mini-Tour Day 1 - Clouds rolling down the hills above I-90

Clouds streaming down the mountains above I-90

There are four campgrounds, two on either side of the Pass, each pair fairly close to each other. I’d planned to go to the second campground on the western side, to get a jump on the next days ride, but by the time I reached Alice Creek Campground, the westernmost ‘ground, it was late enough I called it a day. All of the campgrounds are primitive with no running water but are all next to a creek. In this case though it was quite a hike down to Alice Creek. So I did all my cooking and cleanup with the water I had lugged up (and I had lugged up enough for breakfast the next day as well) and as the light truly failed I hung up my food from an old telegraph pole across the trail.  I made it into my tent just a bit after 10pm, after a long day.

Memorial Day Mini-Tour Day 1 - Alice Springs Campground

Alice Creek Campground

 

Grey skies
reach down
envelope green hills

Miles ridden today: 63
Photographs:  this day/all days

Posted from North Bend, Washington, United States.

An epic journey through Snoqualmie Pass – part 2

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

If you haven’t read Part One of this trip report. that link will take you there. Or scroll down! Anyway one with the story, which finds me at Rattlesnake Lake State Park 20 miles from the Snoqualmie Tunnel but resolved to go on.

I lingered just long enough to drink some Gatorade, eat a granola bar and grab a map. The map indicated 20 miles to the Tunnel, then of course the 2 miles through it. So 44 miles round trip from here and it was already after four in the afternoon. I knew I was pushing it and that if I did this I’d be riding back in the dark, If I made good time I could be back here before 8 pm, which would be pretty deep twilight, especially with the heavy cloud cover. I nearly abandoned at this point, but this was as far as I had made it earlier this summer and I had to complete this trip. Riding through the Snoqualamie tunnel is one of those things that every PNW cyclist needs to do once, like the STP and riding the San Juan Islands. I also knew the odds were low that I’d make it back here this summer, so I pressed on. As I was heading out a group of cyclists came down the Iron Horse trail on their way to the Snoqualmie trail. This is interesting as the other times I’ve been here I saw few or no other cyclists. On the first half of this trail I would see a many of them, all returning to Rattlesnake Lake. At one point I passed a group of around eight off road unicyclists! I have to admit that made me grin and feel a lot better about the effort I was expending.

One of the many trestles on the IHT

I really was expending a huge amount of effort at this point. The trails
packed dirt and gravel was murder on my hands, I was tired and I wasn’t
really packing enough water at this point. There is no potable water on
this trail and while it crosses several streams I had no purification
on hand. I had a bottle and a quarter of water and I’d say that’s about
half of what I’d typically go through on a forty-four mile route. So I
was conserving water even as I was eating trail dust. There was tiny
cracks of sun filtering through the heavy clouds but as I climbed it
became increasingly foggy and cloudy. I was chasing daylight this whole
time, but I was struggling to get my speeds over 10mph. The rough
surface just dragged me down and while its 3-5 % grades are almost not
noticeable you are climbing for 20 miles. I began looking at my
odometer constantly, marking off each mile as I slowly rattled myself
into complete weariness. At about 10 miles to go it began to mist, then
rain. I stopped in the trees and pulled on my rain jacket (good thing
I’d packed that, though alas not the pants) and resolved to plod on. At
this point I was pushing it, I was cold and wet and I knew the tunnel
would be even colder. Then there was going to be a fifty plus mile ride
back after I had finished this. But I had to do it, I had to finish
this ride.

The rain came and went and finally I man’d my way the last few miles and made it to the tunnel entrance. It was raining good and hard now as can be seen by that picture. I had been slow coming up and was really pushing the clock so I hurried on. I turned on my E6 and headed into the tunnel which rapidly became absolute darkness. Not to far in I thought I saw a light ahead but it shortly disappeared so I had it pegged as a reflection. Riding in such darkness is pretty strange, it is hard to keep a straight line with no other reference points but your patch of light ahead. My Schmidt Dyno-hub/E6 performed really well in this situation and I was glad I had such a light. The tunnel was bone chillingly cold and with my wet clothes this was an issue. I rode as fast as I could trying to warm up but I was chilled through. Occasionally drops of ice cold water would fall on me shocking me with the intense cold. Less then half way I estimate I passed two people on foot with their dog that were the source of the light I had seen earlier. They had turned it off as they saw me as I provided enough light for them to see by. I kept riding with a mumbled greeting and soon the darkness swallowed them up. The tunnel just went on and on, cold, wet and luckily flat and decently surfaced (though still gravel). Eventually I saw the light at the end of the tunnel and came to the end. This was fairly abrupt as I think there must be a bit of a bend in this direction. I parked my bicycle at the end and stayed just long enough to take pictures and venture a bit out the other end. It was 7pm and I knew I wouldn’t even make it back to Rattlesnake Lake before nightfall.

The IHT contines on for another 80 miles to the east

One odd thing before I leave the eastern end of the tunnel, was there was a collection of stuffed animals, a backpack and typed up poems hung from the wall at the end. I have no idea what that was all about, but I didn’t spend
much time wondering before I turned around and headed back in. The
light again faded quickly and I was alone in the dark with only the
light generated by my own activity. I pushed my pace now and buoyed by
success I made it through in good time. Long before I came to the end I
saw a faint dot which slowly expanded as I got ever near it. This was
the cliché of the Light at the End of the Tunnel, and it was pretty cool. I’d say it was about half the distance that I could see it as a speck at first
that then became the huge entrance. I passed that couple and their dog
heading back and right at the entrance two young people on bicycles
just getting ready to go in. I assume they were parked on the east as
it was serious gloaming now and I was seriously pushing it myself.

Push myself I did and I had to. It was still raining and I had 20 miles to
the end of this trail and then from there about 35 miles back home. And
I was seriously chasing daylight, up here in the mountains the sun was
gone and the thick layer of clouds and fog were not preserving the
twilight. I rode fast toward lighter skies and now the slight gradient
was in my favor. But I had to mind rocks, potholes, loose gravel and
big puddles of water. It was a stressful, manic ride but now my ride
was getting shorter with each pedal stroke. The water situation was
dire but here I think the rain help. I drank about a 1/3 of a bottle of
water on the entire ride to a store, about 25 miles. Slowly I began to
lose all light, at first when I’d be in the trees but then also in the
open areas. I could no longer read my computer and was judging distance
and time on the few landmarks I recognized. Oh yes those porta-johns
were at about 5 miles in. Eventually it ended in pitch black at a gate
above a road. I had turned onto a slightly different entrance at
Rattlesnake Lake then the one I was used to but it was just a ways up a
road from the lake. I road down and it was such a relief to be off
gravel trails. The Iron Horse trail doesn’t have any call for
suspension but that many miles is murder on ones wrists. You have to
hold the handlebars more firmly then you would on the road or they
rattle around in your hands. And that leads to wrist fatigue and
numbness. I was definitely feeling it but it felt better to be on the
road.

I was so happy to be on the road that when I saw a sign
for North Bend at the point where I’d turn on the Upper Snoqualmie
Valley Trail I decided to risk the unfamiliar road then get back onto
gravel trails. This road soon started to descend and threw in some big
curves as well. There wasn’t a lot of traffic but enough to keep me on
my toes. My lighting performed admirably this whole ride and I really
can’t recommend the Schmidt/E6 combo highly enough. But here and in a
latter fast descent is where I wish I had a secondary light. That is
definitely going on the “to-buy” short list. Anyway I rode down this
twisty decent till I came to the I-90 and crossing it found myself, as
I had hoped, at that intersection not far from where I had entered the
Snoqualmie Valley trail so many hours ago. From there it was a couple
of miles to North Bend and I stopped at a QVC for much needed water and
food. Rarely have I been so happy to come into a town.

DoubleshotI loaded up with water and in need of real food I got some bread and cheese which I proceeded to eat in the QVC’s Starbucks cafe. Needing calories I also ate some gas station donuts – Hostess raspberry filled donuts. While I have moved on from such crappy food in general, I do have a fond place in my heart for these. My dad used to only get these at the start of long road or fishing trips when we’d get up at literally the crack of dawn. I almost never eat these now but occasionally, and usually on road trips, they become necessary. And they were essential now. I really can’t recall the last time I’d had these, but they turned out to be pretty flavorless, and I did have to eat the whole box. Luckily I had a lot more miles to go 🙂  I was pretty short on energy at this point, I had ridden 92 miles now of which more then 50 were on gravel trails and had climb the height of Snoqualmie Pass. I recalled a post from Kent Peterson extolling the virtues of the Starbucks “Double Shot” energy drink when in need of a serious pick me up. I was in need so I downed one of those and while I like my coffee black and hot I found this amazingly satisfying. Soon afterwords I refilled my water bottles, deposited my remaining food in my pannier, made sure all my blinkers were on and visible and headed out.

It was almost 10pm when I left North Bend and I was heading back to Kirkland taking the fastest most direct route I knew. This though was all on
roads, mostly with good shoulders, but also a decent amount of traffic.
The first part was especially worrying, the descent from Snoqualmie
down to Fall City. Just past the Salish lodge at the Falls, the
Snoqualamie-Fall City road drops a lot of feel in a series of
switchbacks. The first and only time I rode this (which was on that
trip earlier this summer to Rattlesnake lake) the road had been grooved
for repaving and considering the speed and traffic was terribly
dangerous. So add in night and exhaustion and you can see why I was a
bit concerned. As I passed the Salish lodge it was pretty packed with
cars and the unmistakable sounds of techno leaking out. This also was a
bit worrying as Saturday night drunks were not something I wanted to
encounter. Nothing to do though so I pressed on. A couple of cars
passed me just as I began the descent and that was going to be the
trend – a few cars now and again with some breaks between. Luckily the
road had been resurfaced so that fear was gone. So another fast descent
down twisted roads with cars coming both directions in unpredictable
rates. Only one problem when a Saab had to actually wait for a couple
of cars on the other side to go by before they passed me, flying the
finger as they finally went by. Otherwise not a bad descent and I
managed to keep up a good pace on the flat and gentle hills of the rest
of the route to Fall City. At one point during this part of the ride I was chased by a pair of dogs. I tried Wille Weir’s technique of making yourself look big and barking back at the dogs, in order to establish yourself as alpha dog. It didn’t seem to work so I just poured it on and left them behind. I’m not a fan of dogs, no cyclist is really, but I was glad to see they didn’t get hit by any car before they gave up the chase.

The Fall City-Redmond Road is a road I often find myself on at the end of a tiring day of riding. This was the latest I’d ridden it but it is a pretty familiar road to me. It has fast traffic and a steady stream of but it has a wide shoulder for most of it (there are these short bits where barriers almost force you into the traffic) but it is a straight shot into Redmond. At night there was less traffic but always some and always it seems at the worst time. How is it that you can go miles on a road with no traffic and then the first time you say a car in ages there is another one going the other direction at just the right time so the car passing you can move over? That seems to happen far beyond statistically probably amounts. Again my lights served me well and it really was just a head down keep on pushing. The end of this road as it comes into Redmond is a frightening combination of road work and a couple of climbs followed by more road work and a fast descent in heavy traffic. The road edge comes and goes and traffic cones and barricades block your path at inopportune moments. But I survived all of this and made it into Redmond in good time. A bank mounted clock informed me that it was 11:30 which was much earlier then I had figured I’d be there. I figured there was a good chance that it was denying Daylight Savings time but I just couldn’t be sure without stopping and checking my phone. I wanted to get home so I figured I’d find out when I get there.

I was now on the final leg, Redmond to Kirkland. The downside was that I had to ride up the Sammamish Valley walls, there is no route that fully avoids that. I was at about 115 miles now, the furthest I’ve ever ridden in a single day. I made my way through town and negotiated the streets to Old Redmond Way. This begins with a steep curving climb, which then settles into a  steady climb. These road climbs, then flattens for a light and repeats
this pattern for three lights total. Over a mile of near constant
climbing and then I’m over and heading downhill all the way to my place
in Kirkland. As I pull in my Odo hits 120.6 miles and I find that it is
12:15 in the morning. 14 hours I was out riding around 11 of those
hours on the bicycle.  Not a fast pace and even below my other
centuries a factor which I think those gravel roads and that continuous
climb to the 2600 feet of the pass. My Atlantis performed amazingly in
the rain, mud, gravel, fast descents and steady climbs. A long day of
riding but satisfying.

Read Part One of this trip report and check out my Flickr gallery from this ride and my gallery of this route on my cycling site.

An epic journey through Snoqualmie Pass – part 1

Tuesday, August 28th, 2007

My Atlantis as I set outOn Saturday I did the ride that I meant to do a couple of weeks ago when I discovered that cracked rim.  This was a ride to Issaquah, taking the trails up to Snoqualmie and then to Rattlesnake Lake and finally ride the Iron Horse trail through the tunnel that goes through Snoqualmie Pass.  This is one of my favorite rides and one that I worked out for myself a couple of years back. It involves four different trails, mixed terrain a lot of gradual climbing and spectacular scenery.  However before this day I had never put all the parts completely together and had never ridden through the tunnel. I had done the ride up to Rattlesnake Lake earlier this summer, but on that ride it was quite late when I reached the lake and I would have gotten back quite late. Of course as it turns out that is what happened this time as well…

As I reported earlier my chain broke the day before this ride so the day began with a ride down to the Kirkland branch of Montlake Bicycle Shop on my Safari. I picked up a new chain and some spare powerlinks and returned home to put these on. As I’ve reported before I’m rather adverse to the early start but for some reason I’ve been waking up early on Saturdays. Must be the excitement of not working. Anyway I had gotten up made breakfast did some web surfing, listened to some NPR and replaced my chain before heading out at 10 am. Still late by most cyclists standards, but leaving home before noon is early for me. It was fully overcast and somewhat cool with a chance of showers predicted so I put on wool socks and packed my rain jacket as I set out. This turned out to be a fortuitous choice.

Lake WA Loop signI knew from my earlier ride to Rattlesnake Lake that it would have been over 70 miles to the end of the tunnel (less for the return trip, hooray for loop rides) so I took what I knew was the shortest route there. Pretty much I took the Lake Washington Loop to the I-90 trail, to Issaquah.  This route is pretty suburban, especially the I-90 trail. You have to go through Bellevue on the Loop and then there is a nice section through a wooded area and at the I-90 bridge you turn onto the I-90 trail. This goes through Factoria, which is pretty much suburban hell.  The trail pretty much isn’t a trail through most of Factoria and you ride on the bike lanes in the road and if you followed the signage, sidewalks. Otherwise you make your way through the car dealers, strip malls and parking lots. Eventually you get on a section of actual trail that runs  parallel to the I-90. When going to Issaquah I don’t stay on it long and at a pedestrian overpass I cross over to Newport way. This is a nice downhill from this point which goes past the Zoo Hill climb turnoff, right into Issaquah. It’s about 17 miles total to Front Street about 4-5 miles less then the other route I take (Kirkland->Redmond->East Lake Sammamish Pkwy->Issaquah). It was during my time on the I-90 trail that I discovered that I hadn’t returned my SD card to my digital camera rendering it an expensive paperweight for this trip. Also I saw that I hadn’t recharged the iPhone for a number of days and it was only about half charged. There was not going to be much documentation of this trip. So some of these pictures are from my cameraphone but most of the ones of the trails are from that earlier trip.

A Pomme LambicIt was almost noon now and due to the early breakfast and riding I was ready for lunch. So back to my old friend, the Issaquah Brewhouse. This time I was early enough that there was no crowd. I got an Imperial Porter and ordered Fish Tacos right off.  I followed this up with a Lindemans Pomme Lambic for desert 🙂 Still I ended up spending way too much time here. Service was slow and while I enjoyed the food and beer very much I spent too long here. Especially as I then wandered around Issaquah looking for a place to buy an SD card. I didn’t succeed as I didn’t want to backtrack to the shopping malls. I figured I’d be able to find one in Snoqualmie, or North Bend or maybe the outlet mall up there. So after eating a strange ice cream cone that they squeezed out of a tube, I hit the road.

Wending through the Issaquah streets I made my way to the beginning of the Issaquah-HighpointStart of the Issaquah Highpoint trail trail. This trail starts at an I-90 freeway ramp that they basically have separated the shoulder from the street. It then turns into a very nice pedestrian overpass and a nice trailhead on the northern side. Then the trail proper begins, which is a hard packed dirt and gravel trail that runs through the woods along I-90. As with all of these old railways these constantly climb at a gentle rate. Not sure if I was just tired or what at this point but I found I was not making very good time on this trail. This was to repeat itself on all the trails I would ride this day. This trail runs by a stream and through the woods its short length (about 4 miles) and then ends at a little parking area just off a freeway ramp. From here you ride for another four miles or so on frontage roads until you reach the Preston-Snoqualamie trail. This frontage road opens with a short steep climb and then is rolling hills through some nice countryside, it curves away from I-90 so the freeway isn’t so dominating.

A typical scene on the Preston-Snoqualmie TrailThe Preston-Snoqualmie trail is maybe my all time favorite trail. It is paved, it runs through woods away from the highway and is pretty lightly traveled. It has two distinct sections with a little bit on the shoulder of a road then a single-tracked switchback climb then another paved section through deep woods. The trail ends abruptly near a scenic overlook of Snoqualmie Falls. If one skits around the fence that blocks the end of the trail there is a path that continues for a ways then ends at an old train trestle over a serious gorge. The trestle seems very strong, and stable and I’ve walked a bit of a ways out on it. I’m not a big fan of heights but it did seem like you could walk all the way across it. If only they would continue the trail it would go right to Snoqualmie and would really improve the trip up the pass. As it is one has several options from this point. You can go back on the trail to the last road crossing and head down to Fall City. From their you can get on the Snoqualmie Valley trail up to Snoqualmie or take the Snoqualmie-Fall City road. Either way its quite a bit out of the way. The other option, which I did on this trip (and the previous for that matter) is to take a little hike up to Snoqualmie Ridge.

A trail up to Snoqualmie RidgeSnoqualmie Ridge is this rather horrific housing community built up on a ridge outside of the (much more working class and quaint) city of Snoqualmie. It is centered around a golf course (don’t get me started) and the houses are all of that cookie cutter, same floorplan, different color, exact same sculpted lawn, housing association disaster. Kamazotz was supposed to be a warning not a model! Anyway on the far side of this monstrosity is a small park and a wood area. This is above the Preston-Snoqualmie trail and a number of trails run down through the woods connect the park to the regional trail. These trails are loosely packed dirt and beauty bark and seem to always be wet, heavy and pretty much a steep climb the whole way. So I tend to push my bicycle the bulk of the way which as it’s only a bit over a mile is perfectly fine. Still tough though, it’s amazing how much easier it iWhitaker Parks to ride scores of miles, but pushing you bicycle uphill for a mile is a real corker. The path ends at Whitaker park which is open to Kamazotz on one side but an power line route to the north opens an amazing vista into Snoqualmie Valley. A real stunning view and after that hill a nice place for a break.

After a short time I head out riding through the identical houses of Snoqualmie Ridge, that flank yet another stiff climb. Today it was packed with cars and it turned out that there was some sort of golf tournament going on and as I rode through the development I was flanked by tourists, SUVs and golfers. Horrific. I got out as soon as I could and enjoyed the mile long or so descent into the city of Snoqualmie. Again I tried to find some SD cards and again I failed. Yet more time was lost. Snoqualmie is a cute little town with a train museum and touristy shops but it still contains a lot of its working class flavor. I did see the Snoqualmie Brewing Taproom which I sense will be an upcoming destination…

Between Snoqualmie and the equally quaint town of North Bend is some road riding. You can of course find your way to theThe Mar T Upper Snoqualmie Valley Trail (head toward the falls and turn onto Tokul road) but I find the road route to be quicker, easier and a bit of a break from the trails. Plus I like to ride through Snoqualmie and North Bend. North Bend is where Twin Peaks was filmed and you ride right past the diner that was used for the exterior shots of the Mar T. You ride right through downtown North Bend taking a left at the light kittycorner from the Mar T. The road continues till it eventually intersects with the I-90. However after a bit a paved bicycle path appears on the right and if you follow that it turns onto a much less traveled suburban road. Following this route you end up at the same point as the road you were previously on but with a lot less travel. At the road where turning right takes you to the I-90 you go left and you’ll come right to an entrance of the Upper Snoqualmie Valley trail. It also turns out you can go right cross the freeway and with some stiff clinbing end up at the same place. Better route for the return trip, so it was the trail to me.

The SVTThe Snoqualmie Valley Trail is a gravel surfaced trail that begins in Monroe way at the western end of the valley and slowly climbs all the way up to Snoqualmie. Then you do a bit of road and can get on the Upper Snoqualmie Valley trail, which runs through North Bend and ends at the state park at Rattlesnake Lake completing the trails 29 miles. When I hopped on the trail it was about 4-5 miles to Rattlesnake Lake. Again I was making pretty slow progress, the gravel and slight incline working against me. Also what with the long delay in Issaquah and the hunt for the SD card in Snoqualmie and North Bend I was pushing it for time. Finally I arrived at Rattlesnake Lake at around 4pm. The Iron Horse State Park begins here with the John Wayne Memorial Trail. This park is basically a gravel path along the old Chicago-Milwaukee-St. Paul-Pacific Railroad route that stretches over a hundred miles all the way to the Columbia River. This parallels in part I-90 as it crosses Snoqualmie Pass. The Iron Horse Trail does that whole climb and then culminates in a two mile long tunnel through the mountain. Once through you have crossed the mountains and are in Eastern Washington.

Stay tuned for the exciting trip through the tunnel and back. Until then check out my Flickr gallery from this ride and my gallery of this route on my cycling site.