Saturday, July 4, 2009

Three Mountain Tour

Angela writes:
We’ve just returned from our 3 Mountain Tour shake-down trip around Washington State where we visited Mt Rainier, Mt St Helens and Mt. Baker. After a shopping trip to our favourtie Cycle Barn store in Smokey Point we headed east for Wenatchee State Park. Good thing we had taken Daryll’s latest and greatest purchase with us - our spacious new 2 room tent, as the mosquitoes were killer! Can you see the excitement in Daryll’s eyes sleeping our first night in the new tent? Like kid at Christmas.

The next days ride was filled with windy farmland roads, with great stops for filling up on Rainier cherries, and followed a meandering river into the friendly town of Yakima. After exploring the snowy mountains of the Chinook Pass and watching some die-hard skiers, we took a dirt forestry road in Mount Rainier National Park to our free secluded camp site.

On our way to Mt St Helens our path was graced with the sighting of 3 large buck deer eating grass at the side of the road. Actually I think it was devine intervention 'cause at the time I was singing church hymns in my helmet. Nothing like giving a little thanks to make good things happen! Highway 503 up the west side of Mt St Helens was a twisty, dangerous road as ones attention was always drawn to the magnificant sites presented at each turn, when one should be paying attention to riding (when I say one, I mean me). At the beginning of the road there is a beautiful active logging forest. As you get closer and closer to the volcano, the vegetation gets sparce. You can see the path of destruction that the flood of melted snow caused when the eruption occurred May 1980 and the river carried the blown-down forest that had been closest to the volcano, with it. At the Mt St Helens site itself the only left over forest that can be seen is splintered logs from 30 years ago and now growing little purple flowers. The movie at the observetory was informative but I was surprised at the lack of other facilities here. There was not even a café which I thought would be a staple of any American tourist attraction. After considering the proximity of the site to the active volcano however, I now understand the hesitation of investing in infrustructure. After this long 12 hour day of riding we ended up camping at Kanaskat-Palmer State Park and treated ourself to 6 minute showers. Oh the luxury! Actually speaking of luxury, according to my calculations we did this entire trip on $30/day/person - not bad in the good ol' USA.

The next day of riding had us on the freeway into Seattle for rush hour traffic so it was a great test of skill. Despite getting lost, we kept our patience and sanity and after a quick trip to Ride West BMW for new earplugs, we continued to get the hell out of the city and back out into the wilderness of Mt Baker National Recreation Area where we found yet another free camp site. As we were exploring the lake here, I took off my sandals while walking on a dock to hop on to the final piece of dock, when I realized it wasn't securely fastened to the first two parts. I tried lying on the dock, sticking my arms in the water to "swim" back but I kept drifting out. I was just about to jump into the water of the 10 foot gap between docks (as Daryll helpfully took this photo), when I noticed a flimsy blue string (which you can see on the right) attached to a log which I finally used to reel myself in. We laughed, and laughed....

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