Friday, June 16, 2017

Barlow Pass II (2017-06-10)

It was a pretty good ride aside from the downpours in the mountains. The multiple helicopters, ambulances, and police responses were pretty odd, though.

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More after the break…

Part 1: To Bus

Like usual, I started at about 05:00. Since the solstice was only a week away, it was already light out before I left home, and it only got lighter as I made my way to the freeway station.

Part 2: Outbound

I left Everett via US 2, but rather than heading towards Snohomish as I've often done, I climb SR-204 to Lake Stevens, as it's the shortest way to get to Granite Falls.

Then I rounded the northwest 'corner' of Lake Stevens and took SR-92 to Granite Falls. With the drafting provided by the highway traffic, it was a pretty quick ride.

A few of the locals asked me about where I was headed with all my bags, which hadn't happened for a while on my rides.

Getting out of Granite Falls was as difficult as always, with a fairly constant uphill grade being the theme after the South Fork Stillaguamish River, including the climb that always comes to mind when I think of that part of the route.

It wasn't long until I'd arrived to the town of Robe, where I stopped at the general store that had just had its grand opening last time. I was glad to see that it was still operating.

It was a gradual climb from Robe to Verlot. I'd packed a fourth liter bottle for extra water capacity and had originally intended to fill all four of them at Verlot, but forgot when I passed through the area.

Thankfully, someone was kind enough to help me out.

Unfortunately, it wasn't long until rain started to fall, which became pretty bad for a few minutes before mellowing out some.

The rain remained a theme much of the way up to the pass.

The gravel repair shortly before Silverton from last time was still there, but after last week, it was almost a breath of fresh air.

I was hoping to stop to eat at the Big Four Picnic Area, a helicopter that had been overhead earlier was landed there and the area was closed off, so I had to eat at the trailhead instead…where a search and rescue vehicle was parked. What happened?

From the Big Four area, it was a constant climb. I was powering up it in a slightly too-tall gear most of the way until it steepened just a little too much, which kicked me into the granny ring. I probably should've paced myself better there, as I was pretty slow for the last little bit to the pass. I sure was glad to finally be up there, though, and it was even sunny!

A group of hikers asked me about what I was up to, and one was even nice enough to take a photo for me. A hiker on the other group complimented me on my Davidson.

Part 3: Inbound

As expected after all that climbing, the descent was pretty quick. I did eventually start feeling out of breath and worn out after all that spinning, so I consumed one an energy shot to get me all the way back to Granite Falls.

As I approached Verlot, I saw a couple on a tandem headed the other way, but they didn't respond when I asked them where they were headed. Around the same area, I had to stop once when an ambulance headed the other way, and another time when there were a number of cars behind me.

I hit a very high speed when that steep descent to the bridge over the South Fork Stillaguamish River, and ended up pulling out of traffic to wait a while after the bridge. I was afraid of ending up with a bunch of folk stuck behind me again, but when I did climb up from the river, only one or two cars had to pass me.

I stopped for my final coffee at an espresso stand in Granite Falls. While talking to the barista about the weather in the mountains, she told me that it's only clear up there if it's hot and sunny at Granite Falls, and it was partly cloudy in Granite Falls even then.

The ride on SR-29 back to the Centennial Trail was pretty quick aside for having to wait for yet another ambulance. My route had me taking a side road to the trail that turned out to be very steep. While it only gave me a bit of work after all the riding throughout the day, I thought it'd be best to avoid it in the future.

Thankfully, the construction on the trail from last time was already complete. The trail was honestly about as bumpy as it had been with the tree roots for the most part, but the lack of bollards was a welcome improvement.

I merely passed through Snohomish rather than stopping for anything. Along the river road, I saw a number of tents in the bush, which only pointed to one thing:

My saddle's stretching made it pretty uncomfortable at this point, so I tightened it quite a bit.

I was sure glad to be largely done when I got to Everett Station. It was a pretty tiring ride!

Part 4: Return Home

It was even still light out when I got back to Seattle, which made the ride home pretty nice.

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