Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Mount Rainier National Park (2015-10-11)

After having a final saddle adjustment done on my Double Cross, I did this ride. My plan was about 200 km, but since Saturday's nasty weather pushed this ride to Sunday and I had work the next day, I had to take the bus to save time on the return trip.

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More after the break…

Part 1: To Downtown Seattle

I started at 05:30 or so as I had targeted the ST 577 to get me to Federal Way. My original plan was the ST 578, but the first weekend run was too late. I had also originally planned to do this ride on the day before (Saturday), but the weather was awful.

On my way to downtown, I came acrosss something odd.

As I left, a semi truck cab started hauling the container along the bridge.

When I got to the bus stop, I ended up with something like a half hour to spare, so I found the nearest coffee shop that was open. There was a crowd hanging around outside (who were regulars who knew the guy working the shift) and they were wondering what was going on. As it turns out, the guy working the shift forgot to unlock the front door and was cleaning the refrigerator under the counter. He did eventually notice us after wondering why nobody had some into the shop.

Once inside, I had a room-temperature americano (to save time) and a pastry, then ran off to the bus stop.

Part 2: Outbound

Once at Federal Way, I headed to the nearest coffee shop for some water and a restroom, then headed across the S 320th St & I-5 interchange, which was pretty much empty.

After that, I barreled down Peasley Canyon Road for quite some time, alongside SR-18. At the bottom, I headed along the West Valley Highway all the way to Sumner.

In Sumner, I accidentally stopped in front of the usual Starbucks before realizing that I had no reason to go there, then headed further south along Valley Avenue to get to the Foothills Trail. Once on the trail, I rode to the crossing of the Puyallup River and saw that the highway had been moved over to the new bridge.

Then I continued through to Orting. I didn't stop there, however, as the shop wasn't open yet. And as I kept going along the trail, this wheelsucker kept behind me most of the way to South Praire, though I managed to drop him in the last half-mile.

In South Prairie, I stopped for a quick refreshment before heading out to start recording my first video. Unfortunately, even though I narrated during the whole time, the camera was unable to pick it up due to its case, so I've subtitled the video.

At the end, I noticed that they had removed the downed bridge.

I then headed back to Lower Burnett Road to ride beside South Prairie Creek (incorrectly called "Burnett Creek" in the tweet below) all the way to the end of the road. From there I hung a right and started the 7+% grade climb.

I then passed through Burnett and made my way to Wilkeson. While there, I chatted with a couple of British guys from Portland who were also up in the area to see the national park.

Next was the steep, shoulder-free climb up to Carbonado. Unlike my last time up there, I just zipped past the town and continued along the highway.

Up there, I saw the branch of the Foothills Trail that goes all the way to Melmont.

There was a group of chaperones and special needs teenagers enjoying a hike along the trail.

Continuing my ride, it was obvious that I was going up the side of a valley.

I eventually made my way to the Fairfax Bridge across the river, where a few other groups were checking it out. One of them (a father, his daughter, and their dog) had been hiking along the Foothills Trail.

The road just kept going on from there with landmarks spread far apart at that speed.

She told me about how roads largely circled Mount Rainier within the park, but were all 35 MPH, and how most of the people visiting the Carbon River Ranger Station only were there because their GPS sent them that way. In reality, they mainly wanted to go to Sunrise or Paradise, which are on other sides of the park. She also knew about the ghost towns of Melmont, Fairfax, and so on. I learned about the popularity of Wilkeson sandstone from her, too. Oh, and how SR-165 is the road to Lake Mowich, while the road I was on was Fairfax Forest Reserve Rd E.

From there, it was largely a descent into the Carbon River valley.

Once in the valley, I noticed a cool bridge off to the left. While I was on it, a older lady enjoyed a laid-back ride across it and back on her bike.

As well a nice, wide view of mountains including Old Baldy Mountain and friends.

It was only a short jaunt over to get into the national park itself.

Once at that last gate, I just turned back due to time constraints.

Part 3: Inbound

The ride back down the road was pretty brisk, though I did see more cars as it was later in the day.

Once back in Carbonado, I made the left to head into town.

To exit Carbonado, I took one of the back roads, though not the same as the one from last time.

This took me to the highway for the descent into Wilkeson, where I felt bad as a truck was stuck behind me due to the lack of shoulder. Thankfully, I left the highway again once out of Wilkeson and barreled down the fast way into South Prairie. From there, I took South Prairie–Carbon River Road instead of the trail, which was more fun due to the rolling hills.

I zipped through Orting on my way to Sumner, where I decided to call the ride pretty much over since I had work the next morning.

Since I had 40 minutes and needed to use the restroom, I looked for a place that was open where I could do so.

I only had a salad there, as I didn't have time for a pizza.

I had no trouble making the 578 and had a peaceful ride back to Seattle.

(I passed through Federal Way again on my way back north.)

Part 4: Return Home

Once back in Seattle, I simply took my normal route home. I was surprised to see the bus's first stop so far north in downtown; I didn't even have to climb anything before Dexter!

I got home at a reasonable hour and was able to perform my tasks at work just fine the next morning.

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