Sunday, January 25, 2009
Grand Ridge Trail
"I need tougher friends," I mutter as I review the feeble excuses and resounding silence that greets my latest "Hey let's go back country riding and maybe camping this Sunday/Monday" message. Noting that the forecast is for temps around freezing together with chance of snow, Christine points out that perhaps what I need is not tougher friends, but dumber friends. Perhaps she has a point.
I scale back my camping plans when Mark comes through suggesting we can go camping the following weekend, but still Sunday morning beckons. Looking for terrain that will let me work the lowest gear combination on my tringle-speed, I point my wheels out my back door and roll up into the hills.
I live at the base of the Cascade foothills, but it's been a few years since I've ridden a trail that is basically right in my backyard, the Grand Ridge Trail. There has been a lot of construction and home building on the Sammamish Plateau in the past few years so I really have no idea what I'll find on this ride. A few years ago I was riding with some friends on one of the high ridges and we stopped for a snack at a spot looking out onto the plateau. "Is that snow over there?" my buddy asked seeing the distant expanses of white. "Nope," I explained, "it's Tyvek. Those are all the condos under construction."
Today proves to be a different story. As I stop at the base of the steep climbing to move my chain onto the lowest gears, another rider pulls up. We both seem to be the kind of fellows who talk to strangers, so we get to talking. It turns out Ross West also lacks dumb friends and hasn't ridden the Grand Ridge Trail in a few years. So we ride and scramble up the steepest stuff together and puzzle over the same trail forks. It turns out that Ross and I have similar riding styles, going slow enough to look around. At one point Ross is leading and says "let me know if I'm going too slow." I assure him that I don't think that's possible and mention that some folks call me "The Mountain Turtle." Ross has to turn back a bit before noon but we exchange email addresses and make tentative plans for some future rides.
The map shows the trail ending at a dead end suspiciously close to the Issaquah-Fall City Road and the good trail conditions, combined with the circumstantial evidence of three riders coming the other way, gives me the hope to press through the swampy, rooty low section and up yet another ridge. Once again the map is not the terrain and the trail leads me to the road. I stop to engage a more road-appropriate gear and I'm home in time to have lunch with Christine and Eric.