Sunday, July 29, 2007

Wander Around Washington -- 7-23-07

7-23-07 Yakima to Iron Creek Campground

I'm awake at 6:00 AM. I pack up quickly and ride over the the Yakima Greenway Trail. I have a lot of miles to cover today, including a long climb up to the 4,500' summit of White Pass, so I don't have time to see a lot of Yakima. While I can't wait around for the local bike shops to open, I do get to follow this lovely trail along the river. One neat thing I notice on the trail is the garbage cans. They use bicycle inner tubes to keep the plastic garbage liners in place. I always enjoy seeing creative reuse of materials.



Before I leave town and get on Hwy 12, I stop at a minimart for some coffee, a sandwich, an orange-mango drink and some cashews. I always have to make certain I have fuel for the journey.

Hwy 12 features some examples of bicycle unfriendly shoulder design and I compromise my safety a bit by working the pencam to get shots of the rumble-stripped shoulder that completely disappears on the bridge and the narrow shoulder with incredibly stupid rumble-strip placement. I think a lot of folks would be amazed at how much time we spend at the Alliance trying to keep bad road design like this from happening and how much work it is to get these badly designed roads fixed.


At Naches I stop at the ranger station to make sure the roads I'm planning on riding are open. The rains last fall and this spring washed out many roads near Mount Rainier and Mount St. Helens and while I'm pretty sure the route I've chosen is clear, it's always best to be certain. I also call the office to check in and get a few phone numbers of people I'll be seeing later in the trip.


I have coffee, juice, eggs and sausage for second breakfast at the Drift Inn Cafe here in Naches. Remarkably, the cafe/store here in this tiny town has a wifi connection so I post a quick update to the blog before I roll out at 9:55 AM.

It's a long slog up to White Pass. I've been over White several times before, but always riding from west to east. This is the first time I've done it from this direction. The grade is never very steep, maybe 6% or so, but it goes for miles. And in places the shoulder pretty much doesn't exist. Fortunately, there isn't much traffic here on a Monday. I have a rear view mirror on my helmet and while I don't find the climb too troublesome, this isn't a route I'd recommend to nervous or novice cyclists.



The scenery is spectacular and it's great to climb into cooler weather and be back into country with trees. At 12:35 PM I stop at the Rim Rock Grocery Store for an ice cream bar, a pint of milk, a bag of Cheetos and 2 20 ounce bottles of Gatorade. Even though it's not as warm here as it had been lower down, I'm careful to keep replenished with both fluid and salt.

At 3:15 PM I'm at the White Pass Summit. It's cooler here and cloudy and I layer my wool top and wind vest on for the descent.




I roll through Packwood a bit before 5:00 PM. The sky is kind of cold and spitting now and the wind fights me from Packwood to Randle. It's sections of road like this that make me glad I've got my cyclecomputer mounted on the downtube of my bike, out of my line of sight. At the end of the day I can see how far I rode and learn how fast I went on the descent. But right now, I don't need numbers telling me exactly how slow I'm going. I use the flat part of the Ergon grips as arm rests, stretch out with my back as flat as I can get it and turtle into the wind.

An elk watches from the roadside and I manage to take a picture before he bounds off.


At 6:45 PM I stop at the Mount Adams Cafe in Randle. For a couple of years, ever since I missed the open hours of the pie shops in Pie Town, I've been dreaming of a certain slice of coconut creme pie. Tonight, I got that slice of pie. The thing about that pie is that it is big and creamy and it is there at the end of more hard miles than most folks would prefer to ride. So in this small town, in this small cafe I got my slice of pie along with two big glasses of milk and a grilled cheese sandwich.

The skies are grey and the sky is still spitting but there is no doubt that life is good. The cafe has a great give-away map of the area produced by the Destination Packwood Association and it provides great detail of the roads I'll follow from here to Vancouver. I finish my pie, pay the check and head out to my bike. The waitress says "enjoy your ride." "I always do," I assure her, "I always do."

I follow FR25 south and up towards Mount St. Helens. It's 8:30 PM when I pull into the Iron Creek Campground. I pitch my tarp over the bivy and for the first time this trip, I use my Kelly Kettle to heat water. I make a cup of hot tea and pour the rest of the water in my thermos for morning coffee. Early in my planning it had looked like I might meet up with some friends here, but our schedules hadn't quite synchronized. But there is something very nice about being in the woods with the silence. I have everything I need.

Stats: Dst 113.00 miles Ave 10.0 mph Max 32.0 mph
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