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Monday, August 13, 2012

It's mid-August, so it's time for another bike tour.

As noted a couple days ago, I'm now working at my old job the hostel again for a few months. So far I don't have a full slate of shifts but that will change come September when I'll be working three to four days a week. So if I wanted to get a bike tour in, something longer than say three days, I'd have to get it in NOW, as I don't think I'll have any significant period of time off in September. After that it's a crapshoot for bike tours in the NW.

As you are reading this entry (Monday morning, presumably) I'll be heading out of Portland for this tour, the third of the year. Where will I be heading this time? East, then north.

After touring in the mountains in July, the quiet and scenic backroads through the National Forests (and Parks) of the Cascades Range are captivating. I could head further south and explore some of the areas that the Cycle Wild trip are doing, but I've already gone over Santiam Pass, and if I went down that way, I'd want to hit up Crater Lake as well, and with April.
No April this time. :-(

Yes, April. She's not coming along on this adventure, so this rules out any coastal type of riding for the most part, as I don't want to make her (too) jealous. (She's not as jealous of mountains.) So why not hit up the Cascades in Washington again?

I have ten full days for this tour, as I leave the morning of Monday August 13th and I need to be back home the night of Wednesday August 22nd, as I work Thursday morning. Ten days isn't super long, but it's long enough for a lot of action.

The basic plan of the trip can be divided into two parts.
Part 1 (Mon 13 Aug to Sat 18 Aug): This is the "in the mountain section". I'll be departing from Carson, Washington, which is on the Columbia River between Portland and Hood River, and heading up the Wind River Valley towards Mount St. Helens. Yes, this part is a repeat of my July tour, up until I get to the junction of Forest Roads 25 and 90 in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Rather than head west towards civilization, I'll turn north on 25 which skirts the east side of St. Helens. NF 25 will intersect with US 12, and I'll take that for a little bit until I reach Skate Creek Road, and I'll take this to the SW entrance of Mount Rainier National Park. By then it should be Wednesday evening (Aug 15). I'll spend three nights in Mount Rainier NP, hitting up all the spots that I can get to by road. On Saturday morning I'll depart the park, head down the scenic Chinook Scenic Byway (SR 410) back towards civilization, civilization in this case being the eastern fringe of the Seattle Metro area.

Oh yes, it is worth mentioning two things for this section: The enigmatic Todd B. will be accompanying me for this section. It'll be nice to have some company.** And we'll also be getting a ride out to Carson to start the trip. Yeah, I'm generally against getting rides to the start of tours (but don't have much objection to using public transit),*** but the Columbia Gorge is an area I've ridden through many, many times. While I obviously love it, the point of this tour is the mountains, mostly. Getting a jump on things means more time for the mountains.
Part 2 (Sun 19 Aug to Wed 22 Aug): This is the "in and around Seattle" sans Todd B. section. Sunday should see me skirting the far east fringe of the Seattle metro, heading north via Issaquah and the Snoqualmie River Trail with a pit stop at Snoqualmie Falls. I'll turn west and then approach Seattle from the north via the famed Burke-Gilman Trail. I should arrive in Seattle Sunday night.

Monday is my "off day", though I'm not truly off, as I'll be presenting a Bike Touring Workshop at Bikeworks* in the evening. On Tuesday I'll have another short day and take the ferry over to Vashon Island, where I'll spend the night. Wednesday morning I'll ride the island, take a ferry to Tacoma and then catch Amtrak back to Portland in the evening.

Now I have been to Seattle many, many times, and have passed through Tacoma on many an occasion (only stopping once.) But I've never gone through the eastern suburbs, nor have I visited Vashon Island. So this trip covers a lot of new territory. And this is the mode of touring I've been digging this year: staying relatively close to home, but exploring new things.

I will try to update the blog as best as I can while I'm away, but can't promise much. I can guarantee that wifi on Part 1 is going to be virtually non-existent, so you might not see anything until Part 2. And you won't see any photos until I get back to Portland later next week.


*Not to be confused with North Portland Bike Works.
**And there is the added bonus of cutting camping costs in half.
***There is a bus that runs to Carson, which I pondered using. But the main problem is it only runs in the early am or in the evening. I would have to get to Fisher's Landing Transit Center in far-flung eastern Vancouver to get to it, which is highly daunting when this bus leaves at 7 am. There used to be a mid-day bus, but no longer.


  1. It seems amazing the ease with which you can take a bike on a bus in a lot of the rest of the world. Folding bikes aside, I have never known a UK bus service to permit bicycles on the bus (or be fitted with a carry rack). I remember being relatively new to cycling as an adult and finding my bike had a puncture after leaving work from a late shift. Unable to repair it where I was, tried to take my bike on the bus. Most of our buses have a large area at the front for the use of wheelchair or pram users, which could easily accommodate a bike. I even offered to get off in the event that someone else needed the space, but the driver would not let me on. In the end I walked about 8-10 km home through some of the more grim parts of Greater Manchester, and I have caught the bus very few times since (and am generally better prepared for punctures).

  2. The Snoqualmie Valley is perhaps the nicest part of our county; be sure to check out Snoqualmie Falls Brewery. Alternately, if you rode from Carnation over Union Hill, you could see Redmond, the self-proclaimed "bicycle capital of the Northwest." The Sammamish River Trail turns into the Burke Gilman. Also, it's home to Black Raven Brewing and Mac and Jack's.

  3. I'd like to thank you for sharing your biking adventures with us all. I know it takes a determined effort to do such a thing. It is MUCH appreciated.

    Definitely looking forward to reading, and seeing, of this trip! THANKS!


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