Cyclists of Greater Seattle
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Central Cascades Exploratory Tour Report

  • 17 Jun 2023 2:26 PM
    Message # 13216525
    Michael Francisco (Administrator)

    On Thursday June 15th I completed a multi day bike tour that  I've been planning and dreaming about for some time.  This was partly an exploration on some roads I've never travelled.

    Saturday:  Met Bob Freeman and John Triggiani at North Bend, and we rode up the North Fork Road into the Snoqualmie Forest, following mostly the Hancock Main Line north to US 2 near Index 35.5miles/2,700 feet mostly on gravel.  It was a wet drizzly day but the road was in good condition.  A $10 day use permit is required to enter what Campbell Global now calls the "Snoqualmie Tree Farm." No restaurants were open at Index, so we ate chili dogs at the Sand Bar tavern and whatever we could grab at the Index general store.  We stayed the night at the Bush House Inn.  The rooms were comfortable and very clean in this beautifully restored historic inn.  The tracks are nearby, and every now and then a train rumbled through with loud horn blaring but I slept well anyway.  The restaurant at Bush House wasn't open yet (but it is now).  We had coffee and a light breakfast in the morning.  Bush House is a great place to stay and I'd go there again without hesitation.

    Sunday:  Headed east on the Index Galena Road with some trepidation about going through the road project.  It is closed to the public, with big signs forbidding all hikers, cyclists, motorists, tourists and goat herders.  However I had spoken to the project manager a couple of weeks prior about getting through and he said that nobody was there on Sundays, harm no foul.  This roughly 0.7 miles section of the old road was washed out in 2006, and the road restoration project will be done this fall so this was an opportunity to ride the Index Galena Road with virtually no cars.  We picked our way through the project carefully, avoiding stepping on any recent plantings or unduly disturbing anything.  With a sigh of relief, we exited the project onto the eastern section of the Index Galena Road where we enjoyed several totally car free miles along the river bank and through the forest.  At the junction with NF 65 we headed up and over Jack Pass and down Beckler River Road to Skykomish.  Countless butterflies, incredible river and mountain views were to be seen all the way to Skykomish.  We spent the night at the Cascadia Inn.  OK, but essentially a bunkhouse with shared shower and bathroom stalls at the end of the hall.  We visited the local museum where the curator regaled us with stories and some theories about UFOs, aliens, and the Illuminati and then treated us to dinner at the Whistling Post.  Somehow, this didn't seem strange at all.  Must be something in the water there. 30 miles/2,800 feet were the totals for the day, about 10 miles on gravel.

    Monday:  We went up and over Stephens Pass via the Old Cascade Highway, which starts about 5 miles east of Skykomish, so there were some unavoidable miles on US 2.  However, traffic in that direction was pretty light.  I had a broken spoke to deal with en route - but made a temporary repair with a fiber spoke that got me to Leavenworth.  We stopped for a break at the summit, where the T Bar had just opened that very day!  I had planned to take the Rainy Creek Road around Lake Wenatchee but the extra thousand feet or so on gravel plus my busted spoke seemed like good reasons to stay on US 2 into Leavenworth.  That was a fast descent on the shoulder, strewn with debris and sunken storm grates to dodge.  We somehow made it down the pass with no mishaps.  Total for the day:  52 miles/3,600 feet.

    Tuesday:  A recovery day in Leavenworth.  I took a short solo ride up to the hatchery and back, after which I got my wheel repaired at Der Sportsman by the bike mechanic (John) - who graciously agreed to work past closing time to fix my wheel.  Kudos to him, he did a great job; the wheel held up for the rest of the trip and stayed round and true all the way home even after another 60 plus miles of bumpy gravel with luggage to haul.  There are lots of lodging options in Leavenworth; I spent the first night at a friend's timeshare condo and the second night at an AirBnB in a clean comfortable single room with a private bathroom for just over $100.

    Wednesday:  This was by far the toughest day.  We left Leavenworth on a route I wanted to try via Mountain Home Road.  The climb starts on pavement but gets so steep I had to walk even with low mountain bike gearing.  I'd do it again though, rather than take either of the more usual COGS routes on US 2 or via Peshastin.  The views were fantastic and there were very few motor vehicles to contend with.  That route to 97 added over 1,400 feet and 9 miles of gravel to the day.  The descent back to the Blewitt Pass highway (97) was steep and rocky.  Wide tires are definitely a plus here!  We picked up route 97 a couple miles below the Rock House, where we stopped for lunch before climbing the Old Blewitt Road and up and over the pass.  On descending towards Cle Elum we encountered strong headwinds - most likely typical afternoon upslope winds there - that sapped much of our remaining strength on the way to Roslyn. We spent the night in a rustic AirBnB cabin for about $100 each.  Total for the day: 54 miles/5,100 feet.

    Thursday:  We rolled down Bullfrog Road to the Iron Horse/Palouse to Cascade Trail and through the tunnel over the pass.  Most of you are familiar with this route so I won't go into it, but it was relatively easy compared to the previous day.  At Rattlesnake Lake we took the Snoqualmie Valley Trail to North Bend and back to Bob's house where we were all greeted by a very happy Gracie.  Total for the day about 60 miles and maybe 700 feet.  Hard to say for sure because the tunnel messes with GPS computers.

    Pictures from the trip are here, and my route collection with optional routing can be found at my Ridewithgps account.  I have yet to explore some of the alternates, but I'd still like to try the Rainy Creek Road.  If you're at all interested in this as a tour, contact me and we'll talk about it.  I'm going to be doing this trip again.


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    Last modified: 18 Jun 2023 1:18 PM | Michael Francisco (Administrator)

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