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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


Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

So at the democratic caucus on February 9th I’d volunteered to be an alternate delegate for Obama. Well last Saturday, April 5th, was the next step in the process. The location was only about 6 miles from me and all of the mailings were going on about parking issues so I swore I’d ride in.  The weather was forecasted for rain and the sky was gray with large black clouds.  Still it wasn’t raining at that actual moment so I kept my word.  There was some wind blowing those clouds around but they also kept the heat in so it was a fairly pleasant ride to the school in Bellevue where the caucus was. There were a couple of hills and as I entered the suburbia where the school was the bicycle lanes disappeared and the traffic picked up a bit. I made it over there about ten minutes early and as I was locking up my bicycle I saw a couple of other people had ridden in as well.

There was a good stream of people coming into the caucus and as I went through registration and then to the gym where my district was meeting I was happy to see that the excitement over this election was continuing on.  There is nothing like 8 years of failure and horror to get people motivated. Gives one a little bit of hope. I ended up not being needed as an alternate, which is good you ask me as it means that all of the delegates from my district showed up. So I got to see some speeches from supporters of the two remaining candidates and witness a bit of democracy in action.  Around noon I was free to go and with the weather still holding up I decided to ride up to Snoqualmie Falls and get lunch at the Snoqualmie Falls Brewery.

I headed out from the school toward Lake Sammamish on a road I hadn’t ridden before. It had a nice bicycle lane all the way down to the lake and featured a massive hill where I hit nearly 40 miles per hour.  It’d be a pretty serious climb up, I’ll have to try that sometime.  Once I intersected with Lake Sammamish Parkway I was on a familiar route – around the lake to Issaquah and hop onto the East Lake Sammamish Trail. Only about a half a mile on this gravel trail there is a new trail segment that parallels I-90 before it joins the old dirt path that is the Issaquah-Preston Trail. This is one of my favorite routes, one that I had worked out several years ago and is a fantastic mixed terrain route. It utilizes three or four rail trails (depending on where I’m going) and numerous country roads connecting it all together.  This was the earliest in the year I’ve ridden this trail and being dirt there was a decent amount of puddles and mud on the trail.  Really nice though, the trees a mix of buds, new leaves and bare branches and the river running full and furious. The weather was classic spring- occasional sun breaks, occasional raindrops, wind and ever present big clouds rolling through.  The wind was coming from the northeast, which was my direction so riding these trails through he woods helped diminish the headwind.

From the Issaquah-Preston trail there is a nice connector on country roads to Preston where the Preston-Snoqualmie Trail begins. I stopped at a cafe there for a bottle of water, a truly perfect cappuccino and a peanut butter cookie that had an entire Reeces Peanut Butter Cup in the middle. Somewhat refreshed I hit what is probably my favorite trail I’ve ever ridden on. This trail is paved and in the woods and as it veers away from I-90 is relatively quiet. Really a nice ride on this well maintained tree lined path. This time I only rode half of it and where it crossed the Preston-Fall City road, I took that road down to Fall City. This is a decent road with a good shoulder but also a pretty steady stream of fast traffic. Still I had no issues and as it was all downhill from where I started was quickly in Fall City.

Which I just as quickly rode through and after crossing the Snoqualmie River took a little road that dead-ends at dirt road you can take up to the Snoqualmie Valley Trail.   My fourth trail of the day, this long gravel surfaced trail is another favorite. It runs through the Snoqualmie Valley with its open vistas, and then climbs through the woods all the way up to Snoqaulmie Falls at a gentle, rail friendly grade. The surface was hard packed dirt at first and then there was a section of new fairly loose packed gravel. Right around the point where the surface changed I began to hear gunfire.  Clearly down the valley but always a nerve wracking situation.  I’d hear shots on and off for the next half hour or so, but luckily there was no stray bullets in my direction. I was only on this trail for about 5 miles and then I was at the end and back on the road.

Trestle on the Snoqualmie Valley Trail. 



The trail ends at this little tunnel under Tokul road and you have to climb this steep stairway up to the road.  Once there its a nice road through a heavily wooded route down io Snoqaulmie Falls.  A car came up behind me as I rode this section and it held off passing me as there was a lot of blind curves in this section. As I came around one of these I startled a deer crossing the road toward a pair of fawns on the other side. They looked at me and then bounded away into the woods.  Shortly thereafter I reached the end of the road and then I rode into the quaint little town of Snoqualmie. I was quite hungry at this point so I rode straight to the Snoqualmie Brewery Taproom, my first ever visit to this brewpub.  I’ve enjoyed their beers in bottle form and was excited to have a chance to have them on tap. The brewpub was fairly small and fairly full of people but I got a seat and soon had a porter in front of me.  I had sandwich and an Oatmeal Stout (more on this in another post!) and spent some time resting and checking my email.  Then it was back into town where I walked around a bit bought a bottle of water and checked out the main drag.

I couldn’t pass the Falls without stopping for a quick look and as
always it was well worth it. Not usually up here in early spring I
found the falls with a lot more water than I’m used to and spent some time
hypnotized by them. As I ducked into the gift shop to see what they had, I noticed a couple of people checking out my locked up Atlantis. They were gone by the time I got back out there, so I didn’t have to explain that it wasn’t an old bicycle like I so often have to do 🙂

Snoqualmie Falls. 



Soon enough I felt time weighing on me and I headed out. The descent from Snoqualmie Falls into the valley is a good time and now the wind was with me.  Pretty soon I was back in Fall City and now I turned onto a bit of the route I did just a couple of weeks ago on my spring “populaire” ride. I didn’t follow that route for long, abandoning it right at Carnation to cross the Snoqualmie River and take this winding country road that I had first ridden on the Flying Wheels Century route.  At this point I was at about 55 miles of riding and as the road turned into the wind was definitely feeling it.  I rode through this farmlan head down against the wind just turning the pedals. The route ended at the Redmond-Fall City road which I so often seem to end rides in this direction on.

A light dusting of snow on the Cascade Foothills 



This is a heavily trafficked, fairly flat, mostly wide shouldered road. It is one that I can just grind through keeping an eye on my mirror for the traffic.I was definitely feeling beat and about out of water I stopped at the Shell station that I also always seemed to stop at. Refilled my bottles and picked up some quick energy and calories in the form of a fruit pie and a Starbucks Double Shot. This kept me going ’til I hit Redmond and then the usual route home over the Sammamish Valley walls. The two mile climb definitely was a grind but a familiar one and then it was all down hill and home.  A great ride on routes new and old favorites through beautiful scenery and with a great new pub as a destination. Almost exactly 71 miles for this ride

Check out my full picture set of this ride on Flickr.