Monday, July 17, 2017

Darrington III: Whitehorse Trail (2017-07-08)

Headed out to Darrington again, but chose a couple of new route segments this time. The section Whitehorse Trail that is "open to public" is largely 'surfaced' with grass and is rather bumpy, suited more to wide tires. I hope the county does a better job with the reconstruction work. The alternate route I took through Oso, however, was quite pleasant and I'll likely use it from here on out.

I forgot my phone before heading out on this ride, so I'll try my best to write this post completely from memory.

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More after the break…

Part 1: To Bus

Like usual, I started at about 05:00, then headed towards the freeway station in the University District. The sky was quite vibrant since this was about when the Sun rose.

Part 2: Outbound

When I got to Everett, I popped by the downtown Starbucks for a sandwich and some iced herbal tea to get my day going. The barista at the cafe took a lot more interest than I'd expected in what I was doing. Then I took my usual route through Marysville and rural Snohomish County all the way to Arlington. It was nice having a bright day so early, especially since I remembered starting in both the dark and in ice fog on previous rides in the area.

As I approached Arlington, I rode past the Fly-in and all of the traffic it generated, then came across the Street Fair.

I didn't stick around for it, though, and headed straight out along SR-530.

I pulled off to take a look at the bridge that had received a proper deck sometime before my previous time in the area. It still didn't have a proper gravel surface on either end.

I remained on the highway all the way to Oso, but then turned off on Oso Loop Road to avoid a narrow section of the highway. Right as I stopped for photos at the edge of town, a huge group of dozens of motorcycles rode through.

Oso Loop Road was not only largely free of cars, it was also quite beautiful.

Unfortunately, there was still a bit of narrow highway at the other end, but I did skip a good deal of the worst of it in Oso. My next stop was at the site of the Oso Mudslide, where the ad hoc memorial was still receiving offerings.

After several signs for various unrelated trailheads, I finally found my turn off to the Whitehorse Trail at Fortson Mill Road.

At its westernmost end, the trail seemed fine, so I got on it without hesitation.

However, it started to become very narrow for long stretches, so I had to be careful.

I emerged from the woods at the Darrington Bluegrass Park, which caught me by surprise, but the trail kept going.

At points, the trail was surfaced with troublesome chunky gravel, or grass that hid any forest debris. Thankfully, I didn't go down due to stuff rolling out from under my wheels.

While it was fun, I was pretty glad to reach the end of it, as that finally gave me a chance to search for a real meal.

That meal ended up being at the Whitehorse Market and 4 Corners Cafe. The food was pretty good, but they seemed a bit understaffed since they was a constant flurry of activity.

Part 3: Inbound

After eating, I simply started on my way back to Everett. I had the misfortune of having headwinds along most of SR-530, and had to pace myself pretty well to prevent burning out while fighting them.

It was pretty hot at his point. I was covered in sweat and the Nuun water I was drinking was starting to make me more thirsty. I was also starting to lose energy and speed.

When I finally got to the gas station in Trafton, I ended up drinking a ton of water and eating.

The route to Arlington was pretty easy, which was nice after the climb to Trafton.

The Street Fair was still going on, and there was even a band playing.

Culpeper Hill ended up not being too bad. The northerly wind that had held me back earlier was now giving me a little assistance.

After cresting the hill, I pushed pretty hard the entire way down the trail to Snohomish, with the wind at my back encouraging me to go faster. The effort ended up biting me on the last leg to Everett, however, as I was fighting the wind with tired legs much of the way.

When I got to Everett Station, the bus to Seattle was just about to enter service, and I managed to unload the bike quickly enough to make it, saving me thirty minutes.

Part 4: Return Home

The ride back home was pretty uneventful, but it was definitely nice getting home before the sky was dark.

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