Monday, January 4, 2016

Snow in the Foothills (2015-12-26)

My original plan was to head to the North Fork Snoqualmie campground, but the snow forced me to turn back. I managed to stay warm, but I had to deal with a number of closures and detours on the way home.

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More after the break…

Part 1: To Downtown Seattle

As I was taking the bus to Issaquah, I started a little after 05:30, then headed downtown.

He talked about the various trails near Grand Ridge, camping on Whidbey Island, and how he did a cross-country bicycle tour in the past. He also said that the Issaquah–Preston Trail tends to get muddy because the abandoned coal mines on the hillside dump onto it whenever it rains..

Part 2: Outbound

Since it was rather cold, I went straight to the Panera I'd visited before to get coffee and a hot sandwich.

Once the Sun had risen enough, I left the restaurant and headed up the Issaquah–Preston Trail, which was a little muddy but not bad except for icy bridges. I almost went down on one of them

Past Preston, I continued along the trail, including climbing up the stupid gravel switchbacks. I ran into a bridge closure caused by flood damage, but went across it nonetheless.

When I got to the base of the Deep Creek Trail, I started my hike up it. It was rather steep and slick, so riding it seemed like a bad idea, but I had originally planned to hike it.

The trail ended at a park at the top of the hill.

From there, I headed over to the Snoqualmie Parkway, then down the hill to downtown Snoqualmie, where I got coffee at an espresso stand. I also added a third wool sweater to my layers while at the stand.

I left Snoqualmie by following roads along the river.

Then headed out toward Enies Lobby, which I'd visited before.

However, this involved riding over a flooded road. Normally, the creek would flow directly beneath a rather low bridge over it, but the heavy snowfall and rain made the bridge pretty much pointless.

Rather than actually going there, though, I made a left and headed up the hill instead. This went well until I hit the steepest part, where my chain wanted to ghost shift between the largest cogs on my cassette (smallest chainring). After a few tries, I gave up and pushed my bike up it.

Shortly after the hill, there was a cul-de-sac that had a hardpack road continuing past it. The road was pretty washboarded, potholed, and saturated, which wasn't too much of a problem with my wide tires.

There were places with gravel made of smooth pebbles, which weren't fun. Also, some parts were flooded.

As I climbed, I started to see more and more snow.

Eventually, I decided that going this way with semi-slick tires was a bad idea, and then I turned back.

Had I continued, I would've actually reached the North Fork Snoqualmie Campground, which would've tacked on around 20 more miles to my ride up there.

Part 3: Inbound

Heading downhill, I was rather cautious about my speed as the hardpack was still pretty sloppy.

Once back at the pavement, I let loose. Obviously, I spun out down the steep hill and kept going for quite some time after. Unwinding my way back down, I crossed the flooded road again.

Then I made my way to the Snoqualmie Valley Trail, and hiked down the slick, leafy staircase with my bike.

I really wish they'd do something better than forcing this stupid stair climb for cyclists.

Unfortunately, the bridge had been washed out by the recent floods, which I learned by talking to others who were also forced to turn back.

I ended up going down the highway to Fall City, then back up to the Issaquah–Preston Trail. I did manage to climb my way up the steep hill on the trail out of the saddle, but I got wheelslip partway up, which freaked me out.

As it was getting dark, I went down the trail to Issaquah fairly slowly to be safe, then hit the East Lake Sammamish Trail. As I needed coffee, but didn't want to go out of my way, I just hit up the local McDonald's. I've had worse coffee, but it still wasn't very good.

As I was getting tired, I decided to reduce my ambition and only get to Woodinville. Plus, I couldn't go as fast on the trail, as the sight lines are even worse during the night than during the day.

When I got to Woodinville, I couldn't find the park and ride very easily. After a few loops, I looked it up on my phone and pointed my GPS that way, which got me right there.

From there, it was a nice, warm bus ride back to Seattle.

Part 4: Return Home

Once back in Seattle, I loaded my bike back up in an alcove to stay out of the cold wind, then rode my typical route home.

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