Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Barlow Pass (2016-04-02)

Engaging in the 'sport' of 'pass hunting', I rode up to Barlow Pass along the partially closed Mountain Loop Highway.

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More after the break…

Part 1: To Bus

I started a little after 05:00 and headed straight to the freeway station near UW.

Part 2: Outbound

When I got to Everett Station, I got out pretty much as fast as I could. It's not a very nice place. My route took me over the Hewitt Avenue Trestle and along the little bicycle route that follows it, then left and up SR-204. SR-204 was a slow grind the whole way up, though not particularly steep, and is the most direct route to get to Lake Stevens from Everett.

I passed through Lake Stevens's strip mall area, then a couple of quiet neighborhoods beside the lake, before getting onto SR-92 and heading northeast along it toward Granite Falls.

Once in Granite Falls, I stopped to fill up my bottles, as I wasn't sure I'd be able to find water west of the city. I had to use the restroom to fill my bottles due to a new policy.

Leaving Granite Falls, I plunged into the South Fork Stillaguamish Valley, then climbed my way up the difficult, yet familiar ridge, before going down again into the Robe Valley. I noticed a general store that had just opened on the day of my ride, though I didn't stop there in this direction.

Unfortunately, I didn't see any sign of the trail in the valley.

I next stopped at the Verlot service center, where I asked a local about the trail. They told me about how to access it from the landslide side, but didn't know about access to other side, which is what I had attempted.

Continuing along, I crossed the "blue bridge" over the river.

The road continued along the river valley for a while. Every now and then, I saw a spent CO₂ cartridge from litterbug cyclists, which made me sad.

As I followed it, the clouds and fog cleared out and it started warming up.

I unexpectedly found a hardpack section of the road, likely due to some sort of debris or storm damage. Thankfully, the 2.15" tires I had on the bike had no trouble, though my usual Marathon Almotion tires would've fared as well.

I next saw the town of Silverton, which was all fenced off.

The next thing of note I saw was the road block at Deer Creek…which I quickly went around like many other folks who were hiking in the area. Apparently, there was a lot of curiosity about what was beyond the block. One guy walking along the vacant road said that he wished he'd brought a bike, too.

I also saw a guy on a mountain bike riding down.

From the roadblock on, I didn't see a single car, which was paradise. I felt the kind of freedom that gravel backroads bring me.

I eventually rode past the Ice Caves picnic area and trailhead, which were covered in snow.

And made it to the effective end of the road at Barlow Pass. The Monte Cristo trail had some storm damage, and there was a bit of snow everywhere.

The backside of the highway was closed due to deep snow.

Part 3: Inbound

Not sticking around for long, I rode down the same way I came. While it was easier than going up, with fast parts here and there, it wasn't a speedrun as I was going into the wind this way.

There was less traffic on the open portion of the highway this way.

I then passed through Silverton again.

As I was running low on water, I made it a point to stop less than on the way up.

Unfortunately, I completely ran out of water a few miles up from Verlot, but I kept at it and drank a lot when I got there.

I also stopped at the general store from earlier for a soda to make the last climb over to Granite Falls easier.

It helped some, though I was pretty slow up the steep stuff. Thankfully, it's a little easier heading west.

I made my way over to the Centennial Trail and just took it down to Snohomish.

And then I took the south side of the Snohomish River to Everett Station, where I just barely made a bus without making anyone late..

Part 4: Return Home

The bus ended up stuck in North Seattle for a while due to heavy congestion, so I ended up making it home about 20 minutes later than expected. Still, this was a fun ride, and I was definitely ready for a shower and some sleep.

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