Aug 212016

The top of Mt. Phelps

The top of Mt. Phelps

My Mount Phelps trip was a rousing success! Pictures are here.

I biked from SE Seattle to almost the end of the North Fork Snoqualmie Road pretty much per the Google bike directions. This route worked well except for the jaunt through Snoqualmie Ridge; the trail connecting the Preston-Snoqualmie Trail to Snoqualmie Ridge is quite steep and it dumped me into a terrible maze of subdivisions, golf courses, and gated communities. On the way back I elected to take the Snoqualmie Valley Trail and ride a short portion of SR-202 to Fall City, using 356th Dr SE, which was a much better way to go.

Once in the North Fork drainage I took the Weyerhauser Mainline Road to Gate 10 (per Google directions), which had quite a bit of truck traffic on a Thursday afternoon. At Gate 10 I switched over to the County Road, which was pretty dead on a Thursday, I think I only encountered one vehicle during the 2 or 3 hours that it took me to ride to (almost) the end. I considered camping at the confluence of the North Fork with Lennox Creek, where a bunch of roads branch off of the main road, but the place had an unsettling vibe to it and I continued up Road 5730, further towards my goal, in search of a campsite. This turned out to be a wise choice because the confluence became a shooting range on Friday evening. There aren’t any real great campsites up Road 5730, but thankfully I had my hammock with me and so I did not need a flat spot to pitch a tent. I found a spot about a mile up Road 5730 where a large washout had occurred within the past several years and there were lots of boulders to sit on and make a kitchen (complete with a water feature running through the kitchen), and some nearby trees provided perfect hammock attachments.

On Friday I took my bike, sans trailer, the last few miles up to the Blackhawk Mine site and stashed it in the bushes. As far as the scramble route up Phelps, someone has posted a route to which I pretty much followed on my GPS. There is a disconnected lower and upper portion of the posted route; once you reach the top of the lower route, the goat trail peters out then you have to bushwack and navigate to intercept the upper route. There is also some good info on the route here and here.

After finding the upper route, I was soon at the summit. I was treated to wonderful views of familiar peaks to the east, and although the air was somewhat hazy, I could vaguely make out a silhouette of Downtown Seattle to the west. It was Seafair weekend and I could see the contrails of the Blue Angles. Unlike many of the tall Cascade peaks, the summit of Phelps is quite spacious and there is room to explore and spread out. It’s like a small ridgeline oriented almost exactly perpendicular to an imaginary line between here and Downtown, which is why is has that prominent dome shape when looking at it from Seattle. I hung out at the summit for about two hours before heading back down. On the way down I instead descended a gully directly to the south of the peak, which short-cutted around most of the upper portion of the openstreetmap route; I think this was easier than the traverse connecting the upper and lower routes, but this way might be a bit tricky on an ascent because you have to find a specific spot to get through some cliff bands, and the spot is not apparent from below.

After another lovely evening in my impromptu campsite and a good nights sleep in the hammock, I packed up my bike and trailer and headed back towards Seattle. It was Saturday and there was a lot more traffic on the County Road, however this time I found a gated road that followed the east side of the Snoqualmie River between Wagner Bridge and Gate 10. This was a very nice way to go, no traffic on a weekend, better road surface, and I think less up & down than the county road. At Gate 10, I again took the Weyerhauser Mainline Road, and much less traffic here on a Sunday. From there I followed my route back home, minus the portion through terrible Snoqualmie Ridge.

Aug 042016

I am currently on my way to climb Mt. Phelps, using only human power to get there from home.

Mt. Phelps (incorrectly named “McClain Peaks” on Google and USGS maps) is a prominent dome-shaped peak clearly visible east of Seattle. I have had my eye on this peak for a while and it took some sleuthing to figure out what it was; there isn’t a whole lot of info about Mt. Phelps despite its distinctiveness on the skyline. The confusion over the naming doesn’t help matters.


Anyway, the plan is to ride with my bike and trailer about 55 miles up the North Fork Snoqualmie drainage today and camp out near the end of the road near the Blackhawk Mine. Tomorrow I’ll scramble Mt. Phelps and maybe explore around the area time permitting. Then Saturday I’ll ride home.


Oct 012012

Over the weekend of August 2-5, I had a free 3-day weekend and I decided to ride up the Carbon River near Mt. Rainier and do some scrambling, somewhat retracing another trip I had done several years ago. This time my plan was to ride to Ipsut camp at the end of the Carbon River Road, camp there, and then scramble up the north side of Mt. Rainier as far as I could go with only an ice axe (obviously, I would not be going all the way to the top via this route). It was an ambitious plan, but a Thursday evening start and previous experience with the route would give me a nice head start.

Day 1, Thursday

Stopping for a snack along the Foothills Trail

Stopping for a snack along the Foothills Trail

I went to work on Thursday with my bike and BOB trailer all packed and ready to go. I had worked longer hours during the week and took an early dismissal to catch the first afternoon Sounder Train departing at 15:15. I arrived in Sumner around 16:00, where I unloaded my bike, BOB, day pack, and myself (a minor challenge unloading all of this within the scheduled dwell time at this station). I then headed for the Foothills Trail via back roads. The Foothills trail follows an old railroad grade that parallels the Carbon River from Sumner through Orting to South Prairie.

The biking portion of my previous trip up this way was so enjoyable that I pretty much repeated this portion verbatim, except this time I didn’t take AP Tubbs road south of John RD, which was a dreadful steep gravel road with a chain-link fence across it. (Recommended by Google bike directions, but not by me.)

I rode through Carbonado, topped off my water bottle at the Carbonado Post Office (water key required), and then continued up the Carbon River Road. I arrived at the National Park Boundary around 20:00 and continued up the washed out gravel road as darkness fell. I arrived at Ipsut camp about 21:30, made a quick dinner and then hung my hammock and fell asleep.

[See my bike route in Google Maps]

Riding up Carbon River Rd

Riding up Carbon River Rd late in the evening.

Day 2, Friday

Castle Peak

Today’s objective: Castle Peak

I had two days of hiking/scrambling available, so today was kind of a bonus day. I decided to save the longer scramble towards Mt. Rainier for Saturday, when I could get an earlier start. Today I thought I would explore the Ipsut creek drainage and scramble up Castle Peak. With a late start after sleeping in and repacking for day hike mode, I headed up Ipsut creek trail & over Ipsut Pass. At Ipsut pass I headed south almost to Mowich Lake and then scrambled due east along the north side of Mowich Lake (per Fred Beckey’s directions). I ended up at the ~6100′ point just SW of Castle Peak, which turned out to be a dead end. I had to backtrack south and drop a few hundred feet to a saddle to continue to the summit, which I reached at about 15:00. I ate lunch at the top while contemplating my next move.

Route down

Followed this gully to get back to the Ipsut Creek Trail

There was a lake at 5100′ below that looked really pretty and inviting. It also could be a shortcut back to the Ipsut Creek trail, however this route would require bushwhacking downhill for 2000′ through unknown and probably brushy territory. The contour lines on the topo map didn’t look too bad; and it sounded like fun, so I headed east down towards the unnamed lake at 5100′. The descent to the lake was a breeze, lots of glissading to be had. Then the bushwhacking began. I followed the lake outlet due north through a gully, and then some faint game trails continued down towards Ipsut Creek. About half-way down, there was a steep section alongside a waterfall; at that point a very strong game trail became visible, it led across the stream and then followed a shelf that bypassed some steep cliffs. After the cliffs, the trail fizzled out and it was a free-for-all down to the bottom of the valley, where I intercepted the Ipsut Creek trail and headed back towards camp.

I returned to Ipsut camp at 18:45, made dinner, and then got my day pack all ready for the next day’s long scramble. I even fetched a pot of water the night before so that I could make a quick breakfast and get an early start the next morning. I drifted to sleep listening to Mantras in Motion on my phone.

Camp at Ipsut

Camp set-up at Ipsut Camp

Day 3, Saturday

Curtis Ridge

View of Curtis Ridge from below

I woke up around 6:15 and hit the trail about 7:00. First, bombed up the Carbon River trail at a quick pace. There was an unannounced detour at the lower Carbon River crossing, the trail on the west side was closed and all traffic had to cross here and use the east side trail. I reached the 6100′ ridge above Mystic lake around 10:00 and left the main trail. From here, a well worn path leads to the foot of Curtis Ridge. Once attaining the ridge, I was treated to a nice view of Carbon Glacier. I continued southward up Curtis Ridge, and made it to the 8700′ level. There was a constant roar of ice and boulders crashing down Willis Wall, plus I saw a couple huge snow/ice slides rumble down the wall. Further travel beyond 8700′ would have been possible with an ice axe; however, while I did have an ice axe, I lacked the time, since it was about 15:00 and I still had to hike all the way back to Ipsut camp.

Ice fall on Willis Wall

A large ice fall rumbling down Willis Wall

On the way down, I ran into a family of curious mountain goats. I didn’t mean to chase them, but they were right on the path and kept heading further down, looking back at me, and then moving further down the path. This went on for about 1500′ elevation. Once back on the Carbon River Trail, I high-tailed back to camp, wanting to get there before dark.

By the time I reached the suspension bridge, my feet were so sore that I could barely walk anymore. However, this time I decided to try an experiment. I had a pair of those funny-looking toe shoes with me, which I had found a while ago at the REI bargain basement. The trail was in good shape from here to camp, so I took off my hiking boots and put on the toe shoes. This was a wonderful improvement! Although the toe shoes had thin soles and I had to walk gingerly over rough spots on the trail, there was instant relief to the spots on my feet that had been abused by the boots. I couldn’t walk quite as fast with the toe shoes as with the boots, but it seemed like the toe shoes forced me to walk with a more-gentle gait, making the walk more comfortable overall. I hiked with the toe shoes all the way back to camp, about 3.5 miles, and deemed the experiment a success.

I was back at camp about 20:00, where I bathed in the glacial-fed river, cooked dinner, then retreated to the hammock. When I had arrived at Ipsut Camp on Thursday evening, three nights ago, there was only one other party camped in this large former car-camping site. By Saturday night, the place was packed, maybe 20+ parties camped here.

Looking back down

Looking back down towards Ipsut Camp from Curtis Ridge

Day 4, Sunday

Carbon River Road

Heading back down the Carbon River Road

Woke up around 6:15, cooked breakfast and packed, then pointed my rig downhill around 8:30. I reached the ranger station 45 minutes later; there was much more activity here on a Sunday morning compared to a Thursday late evening. The ranger station was actually open! I stopped for a snack and bathroom break.

Railroad grade & cemetary

The old railroad grade passes behind the Carbonado Cemetery (stay left and follow the trail into those bushes)

Next stop Carbonado. This time I decided to be a little more adventurous and thought I would see if I could ride the railroad grade between Carbonado and Wilkeson, which is not officially developed as a trail. I located a spot where the grade crossed the road just outside of Carbonado, and it looked like it had a pretty good path. I met some locals on the path who confirmed that one could ride through all the way to Wilkeson. It was rough going at first, for example, there were concrete blocks set with a gap narrower than bob, but then it was a nice cruise down a gentle grade with the occasional minor obstacle. As for whether I would choose this route if I were to come up this way again: it’s a tossup, the highway would certainly be faster, but downhill I think the grade was the more pleasant and fun way to go.

Took the highway between Wilkeson and South Prarie, where I picked up the Foothills trail, but not before getting sidetracked by an trail-side espresso stand, where I was lured by the call of an iced mocha. Lots of folks out on this 80-degree Sunday. I knocked off the foothills trail non-stop and then found a nice cool place under a railroad bridge in Sumner (where the BNSF mainline crosses the Carbon River). It was 12:30 and I thought I would hang out here while the most intense sun of the day passed. From this spot I had a good view of Mt. Rainier and could pick out the spot on Curtis ridge where I had scrambled to yesterday. I also took this opportunity to check on the weather report to see just how hot the experts thought it might get today: 95 degrees!

Shady spot under the tracks

Nice shady spot under the tracks. Complete with view of Mt. Rainier!

By 13:30 I was getting restless and pressed on. From here I took some back roads through Sumner and then took the W Valley Highway to the south end of the Interurban Trail. I have tried several different routes to get between Puyallup/Sumner and the Interurban trail, and now I think I like the W Valley highway route the best. The “highway” had very little traffic and nice wide shoulders most of the distance. Because of the heat, I had been dreading the ride on the Interurban Trail. This trail follows a utility corridor from Auburn all the way to Renton with virtually no shade. I attacked this 14 mile segment in small doses, stopping to rest in the rare shady spots like beneath arterial underpasses.

Resting in the shade

Rare shady spot along the Interurban Trail

Soon I was in Renton, where I took my favorite route via the nice shady trail along the Black River, SW 7th St, a shortcut through the Fred Meyer parking lot, Shattuck Ave, the Perimeter Road around the Renton Airport, and then onto Ranier Ave just about where the bike lane begins.

The final push up Seward Park Ave was torturous, as well as the Seafair traffic that I subsequently got caught up in, but soon I was back home where cold beer and a wonderfully tepid bath awaited.

Rainier View

View from Rainier Beach, almost home. I can still pick out the spot I attained on Curtis Ridge.

[More Pictures Here]

Oct 142011

My adventure to the Canadian Southwest, which I initially described here, was a great success! It took me over a month to compose and polish the trip journal, but here it is.

Photo highlights are posted here.


Squamish Territory

Apparently I wasn't the first to explore this area.

BC was fairly unfamiliar territory to me; nothing much beyond a few ski trips to Whistler years ago and family road trips. So, the first challenge of my journey was to familiarise myself with the region and then hone in on a specific location to become my target. My search began at the Seattle Public Library, where I found a copy of A Guide to Climbing & Hiking in Southwestern British Columbia by Bruce Fairley This book was from 1986, but mountains don’t change that much, right? It was just like a BC version of the Becky guides: comprehensive coverage of all the peaks and high routes in the region, with semi-vague directions for each. This was a good starting point to become more familiar with the various mountain ranges and to help narrow down some search terms to seek out on the googleinterweb. My goal was to find a location that I could reasonably reach with via bike and loaded trailer. I settled on Tricouni Peak because it seemed like it had a fairly established route, good directions were available, and there seemed to be opportunities to explore lakes and other peaks NW of Tricouni. The next challenge was locating appropriate maps. It seems that Canada has not totally gone metric, I found a mix of topo maps in with topo lines and elevations in feet or meters, and the logging roads apparently still use mileposts.

With a plan in hand, a collection of maps printed from various sources, GPS loaded with topo maps from, overnight pack and trailer packed, and a favourable weather report, I was ready to go.

In the morning, I finished packing up a few last-minute items and rode to the office with all of my gear loaded onto my bike. After work, I pumped up the tires on the nifty dial-a-psi compressor in the bike room before pushing my rig across the street to the train station. I got my bike and trailer all loaded onto the Amtrak Cascades baggage car, and was soon on my way northbound at 79 mph (max). We arrived in Vancouver right on time at 22:50. What the train schedule doesn’t tell you is that it can take an additional 45-60 minutes or so to go through customs after arriving in Vancouver. Since I had to go to the baggage car to retrieve my bike and re-attach the trailer, I was last in line to go through customs.

Lion's Gate Bridge

Lion's Gate Bridge at 00:30

But soon I was out of the station and left to navigate the wilds of Downtown Vancouver as midnight approached. Despite the lateness, I still wanted to make northwesterly progress tonight, and I had been eyeing Lighthouse Park in West Vancouver as a potential good place to camp that was well out of the city and on my way towards Squamish. I consulted a bike map that Amie gave me and decided to take the waterfront trail along False Creek to Stanley Park and the Lions Gate Bridge; this seemed like the safest route at this hour in an unfamiliar city, and I anticipated minimal pedestrian conflicts. The ride along the waterfront trail was lovely, although navigating through Stanley Park was a challenge. Riding over the Lions Gate Bridge was a lovely treat. I saw lots of interesting wildlife along this ride, including an Owl at Stanley Park, several skunks wandering the trail north of Vancouver, and another unidentified furry animal along the beach in West Vancouver.

I reached Lighthouse Park around 1:00am. This park was kind of strange, there were signs warning of bear sightings on all of the trails. There was nothing indicating that camping or overnight stays were prohibited, except for a warning that the gate would be locked at night (it was wide open at 1am). I rode through the park’s trails looking for a promising place to camp. While pushing my bike through these trails, I discovered that my bike, trailer, and overnight pack combined were really heavy! It was difficult to push my rig up a moderately steep incline, which led to concerns about the logging roads that I would encounter the next day. I found a decent campsite along the Barred Owl Path trail, were I suspended my hammock and promptly occupied it.


Camping in Lighthouse Park

An unusual sight in Lighthouse Park

I woke up around 7:30. Decided to just snack for breakfast and get on my way as quickly as possible. As I was packing up, a guy with a cane, wearing all white, and with 3 Jack Russell Terriers on leash came up the trail and stumbled into my camp. With a funny British accent, he said I was “an unusual sight in the park” and his dogs were very interested in my bike trailer and yesterday’s laundry that I hadn’t packed up yet. I left the park around 8:30, passing by more people with funny British accents. I rode north along Marine Drive and merged into traffic on Hwy 99, a.k.a the Sea to Sky Highway. I was glad to be hitting the highway early in the morning; the highway is chiseled in between a scenic inlet to the west and steep cliffs to the east, so the right of way stays nicely shaded throughout most of the morning, also traffic was still fairly light. The highway rolls up and down with several climbs of a few hundred feet each, followed by rewarding descents. The shoulder is pretty good for most of the way, with only a few short stretches of sketchy shoulder width. Midway through the longest uphill push, I saw what I thought was litter on the side of the highway, but it turned out to be a stash of unopened cliff bars, energy drops, and Gatorade packets! I’m not sure if someone forgot them here, or left them as an easter egg for someone, but I helped myself to all but one of the items. I arrived in Squamish around 11:30. Looked around for a good place for a light lunch and found a place called Sunflower Bakery & Café and had a yummy Mediterranean wrap.

Climbing Spur 200

Climbing Spur Road 200 above the Squamish Valley

Left Squamish around 13:00, heading north into Squamish River Valley. The Squamish River road was a pleasant ride, paved for a significant distance, nicely shaded with a tree canopy, scenic views of the river and nearby peaks, and not too much traffic on a Saturday. I Reached Spur 200 (High Creek Falls) around 15:00; this was my turnoff to the Tricouni trailhead, situated at 4,000′. I was currently at about 250′, so I had quite a bit of climbing ahead of me. Spur 200 was ridiculously steep and the surface of loose coarse gravel didn’t help matters. I redistributed weight by taking my pack off of the trailer and wearing it on my back; the intent was to put more weight on my driving and steering wheels to help with the climb. I also let some air out of my tires to help with traction. Despite this, I ended up pushing by bike about half of the distance, which was a challenge in itself because the bike tires wanted to skid sideways away from me. I found that pulling the handlebars from the front while walking backwards was actually easier, but still no picnic. Around 19:30 I reached the 2000′ level, and had enough of this. Pulling the trailer any higher in elevation seemed counterproductive and I didn’t want to pull it any further, but I also wanted to camp near a water source. I found a trickle of a stream on the uphill side of the road just shy of the 5km sign, and deemed it a campsite. Although I was pretty much camping on the road, there was a nice flat boulder to cook on, some trees that met the spacing requirements for my hammock, and a rather nice view down the valley thanks to recent logging activities. I cooked dinner as it was getting dark and retreated to hammock about 22:30.


Totem Pole at 2nd Lake

Up at the second lake a large totem pole was installed. The snow-thunder spirit laughed at the puny steel bracket attaching it to the rock.

I woke up around 7:30. There was a huckleberry bush within reach of my hammock, so I had breakfast in bed! I had made too much dinner the night previous, so I also supplemented breakfast with leftovers. Thankfully, I would no longer need to take the trailer any further than this point, so I stashed the trailer in a bush, repacked, and left around 9:30. I tried riding my bike further up the road with just my pack on my back, this wasn’t much easier or faster than just hiking but it would let me coast downhill on my return trip. At ~2500′ elevation, the road became even more steep and the gravel even more loose and large (more like boulders), so I stashed the bike and hoofed it from there. About 4 cars passed me on the way up, all with BC license plates; it seems that Tricouni is a somewhat popular hiking and scrambling destination amongst the locals. I reached the end of road and trailhead at 11:30. There were no information signs or any other evidence of government-sponsored improvements, but the trail was well worn and easy to follow. However it was muddy, which I had been warned about on this trail report. By 13:00 I reached the first lake, the one with the island, and ate lunch there.

5600' Kitchen

Kitchen with a view at 5600'

While the main route to Tricouni Peak heads east from this lake, I wanted to head northward towards a basin where the maps showed an abundance of lakes, where it seemed like a good place to camp for a few nights and explore. All of the lakes were mostly frozen over. Based on the lack of footprints in the snow, it appeared that I was the first one up here in a while. Upon reaching a saddle diving the High Falls Creek basin with a separate drainage into the Squamish, I pulled out my maps. At this point I seemed that most people headed due north to the large lower lake in this basin. I decided to instead head east to a different lake that looked interesting, perched on a shelf at about 5600′ elevation.

Strung my hammock inside this tuft of trees

Reached that lake around 16:30. This was a perfect place to camp: minimal bugs, a stand of trees to hang my hammock, nice kitchen furnishings, and an amazing view! The only problem, there was still snow on the ground and the lake was mostly frozen over; that didn’t stop me from taking a very quick dip in the lake to clean up. I made dinner in the daylight for a change, and ate it as the sun disappeared behind ZigZag peak on the other side of the Squamish valley, at precisely 19:45. While I was eating dinner, I saw another party of 3 come in through the valley below and head to the large lake. Later I could see their campfire in a small forested island in a sprawling sea of snow. Crawled into the hammock at 21:30.

Sunset and Distant Campfire


Tricouni Summit

The top of Tricouni Peak

I woke up around 8:00 and ate oatmeal, packed my summit pack and left camp around 10:00. Today’s plan was to summit Tricouni Peak, and then maybe another peak if there was time left after that. The main route to Tricouni would have been out of the way from my lake, so I plotted a shortcut based on topo maps and my observations of the ridgeline yesterday. I arrived at Tricouni summit around noon. From the top I could see the Whistler/Blackholm Ski Area, Mount Garibaldi, and a bunch of impressive-looking peaks to the north. I headed back the way I came and returned to camp at about 13:45. Lunch time! An afternoon nap in the hammock seemed awfully tempting, but I decided to continue scrambling.

Garibaldi, Tricouni, and Seagram

Garibaldi in the distant left, Trcouni towards the center, and Seagram at right

At 15:00 I headed NE to investigate Seagram Peak, and reached it after only an hour of scrambling. Along the way was another high alpine lake at almost 6000′ in a picturesque cirque with glacier-smoothed granite boulders and cute heather patches; this would have been a nice place to camp too, although the lake was completely frozen over except for a spot near the outlet. From Seagram Peak I went to investigate another point along the ridge to the north. Viewing from afar, the point itself looked impossible to scramble, but once there standing at the base of the steep part, I identified an easy route. At the local maxima I was treated to lovely views to the north and Tricouni to the south; in hindsight it looked like is probably possible to traverse the ridge crest between a saddle just below Tricouni and Seagram Peak, which would have saved some time versus going back through camp. I was thinking of continuing to Cypress Peak, and it looked like piece of cake from here, but it was getting late so I turned around and was back to camp around 17:45. I took a dip (more like a sponge bath) in the icy lake and then cooked dinner. I was cozy warm in my hammock by 21:00 before it was completely dark.

Sunday Sunset


Cloudy Monday

Leaving camp on a cloudy Monday

I woke up early, around 6:30. I watched the sunrise hit distant peaks to the west, but high clouds quickly rolled in and the sun never made it to camp. I was all packed up by 8:30 and began descending to the Tricouni trail. The trail was still as muddy as ever. I reached the trailhead around, devoid of vehicles, around noon and started hiking down the road. I rendezvoused with my bike an hour later and began an exciting and rapid coast down Spur 200. Back at the 5km mark, I found my Bob trailer faithfully waiting in the bushes and hitched him to my bike, and then things got more interesting. I continued the rapid descent, keeping all attention completely focused on the road in front of me so I wouldn’t hit a boulder or patch of loose gravel and wipe out, although this did sort of happen a couple of times. I had to stop periodically to let my disc brakes cool. I’m not sure how heat tolerant they are, but when I checked I almost burned my finger and I could see the heat radiating off of them.

Squamish Beach

Nice beach on the Squamish

Upon reaching the bottom of the Squamish River valley and the main road, it was 14:30 and time for a bath and repacking effort. From the road, I walked across the gravel bar for quite a while until I found the river at a nice sandy beach. This river seemed like a hot tub compared to the icy lake. As I was washing up, I noticed a bunch of large salmon frolicking in the river; spawning behaviour I think. I tried not to disturb them. I reflected on how the native people here must have been doing this for centuries. I also thought about how lazy these salmon were compared to our Columbia and Snake river salmon, since the ocean is an easy 15 or so miles from here.

I rolled into Squamish around 18:30. The town seemed pretty dead on a Monday evening, but a I found a place called Zephyr Cafe that was open; had a yummy veggie lasagna & beer. Then I went looking for some potential campsites near town; one vacant lot just on the outer fringe of town seemed promising, except it was already occupied by a large bear roaming around eating blackberries. I moved on. Eventually I found a trail along the river that seemed pretty quiet. It didn’t feature any abundantly lovely campsites, but it was getting dark so I just sought out two appropriately-spaced trees where I could set up my hammock and at least not completely block the trail. I drank a can of beer by the river as dusk fell and was asleep by 22:00.


Sea to Sky Hwy

Heading southbound on Sea to Sky Hwy

Woke up at 7:00 to owls madly hooting overhead. No bears paid me any visits, but plenty of mosquitoes found me. The bugs were worse here than anywhere else on the trip so far. I packed up quickly and rode into town. Went back to Zephyr for breakfast and mocha. Although the breakfast burrito looked tempting, I was about to start on a long ride and didn’t want greasy food sitting in my stomach, so I had the quinoa cereal, which was delicious and perfect! Before hitting the Sea-to-Sky Highway, I located a bike shop that I had spotted earlier and had my tires filled back up to 60psi and lubed up my dusty chain.
Impromptu Viewpoint

Interesting rocky viewpoint

The ride along Hwy 99 was delightful. It is more interesting southbound because you are on the water side of the highway as it rolls up and down along the dramatic shoreline. There are numerous little pullouts at rock outcroppings and other unofficial viewpoints that you wouldn’t notice at 100 km/h but are quite inviting on bicycle. The best of these was where a large cut had been blasted out of a rock outcropping for the highway; there was a gravel shoofly that led to the old roadway grade around the point, which led to a secret roadside shrine which was very elaborate, peaceful, and complete with bench and lovely view. Since I was not in any hurry, I made many stops to enjoy treasures such as these.

Soon I was back in the snooty neighborhood of West Vancouver. I passed Lighthouse Park where I camped the first night, and had no desire to go down there again. I stopped at a busy beachfront park for lunch, and I felt like a ragamuffin with my dirty gear, occupying two benches and eating my peanut butter crackers.
Canadian Seagull
After climbing the Lions Gate Bridge, I took a quick detour into Stanley Park to change into some less stinky clothes before cruising into Vancouver. With a few hours to kill, I really wanted to ride the Skytrain; I’m still fascinated with the linear induction propulsion that the Expo and Millennium lines use. Only problem was where to stash my bike? Supposedly there was an Easypark garage in Gastown that had secured bike parking, but I found that it was really only for monthly subscribers and the staff working there were unhelpful. Instead I found a pub with an outdoor patio and convinced the manager to let me keep my bike there for a couple hours in exchange for getting some food and beer (such a sacrifice…). The salmon burger was amazing. I had just enough time to ride Skytrain out to the Skybridge and back before retrieving my bike, giving the manager a healthy tip, and riding the short distance to the train station.

At the train station I had to shove all of my gear through the X-ray machine for US customs. Compare this to the Canadian customs a few days ago when all they asked me was how long I was staying and what the “medieval looking thing” was strapped to my backpack (answer: Ice Axe). The train ride back to Seattle was pleasant and the train was only a few minutes late.

Upon arriving at King Street Station, I fetched my bike, repacked it, then rode the 6.5 kilometres home.

Aug 252011

I am currently on a northbound Amtrak train headed to Southwestern British Columbia, for a multimodal extended weekend adventure. Bob and my touring bike are secured in the baggage car, and we are scheduled to arrive in Vancouver at 22:50. From there, the plan is a little less defined, but is roughly as follows:

Thursday: After arriving in Vancouver, ride to North Vancouver and look for a place to squat for the night.

Friday: Ride north towards Squamish. My goal is to make it to the beginning of the Tricouni Peak route, described in this trip report. If I wimp out on the bike ride, an alternate plan is to head up the Britinnia Creek Drainage towards Sky Pilot Peak. This is just a little SE of Squamish.

Saturday: Stash bike and hike into the high country. Camp near one of the lakes SW of Tricouni Peak.

Sunday: Scramble/wander the high country. Check out Tricouni Peak and maybe Cypress Peak. Return to camp.

Monday: Hike out and maybe start riding back. Camp somewhere maybe near Squamish.

Tuesday: Ride back to Vancouver, catch southbound train @ 17:45.

Maps are cached on my phone and I found a website where I could download free canadian topo maps for my handheld GPS, recommended by my brother, Jack! I’m not paying international roaming fees, so the data gets turned off as soon as I cross the border, and so that’s all for now.

Nov 292010

It’s been like three months since I successfully completed an alpine high route from Mount Blum to Bacon Peak. This was I trip I did over Labor Day weekend; the rough plan was outlined in a previous post that I wrote while on the northbound train to Mt Vernon. Since returning, I have been gradually been picking away on this day-by-day account of the trip, mainly using my Android phone while waiting for or riding transit vehicles. Finally, it is ready to publish.

Also, I took some time to figure out how to export my GPS track history and share it online. Below is a Google map with my route history shown from when I first fired up the GPS in Sedro Wolley, to the time that Amie picked me up at the Watson Lakes Trailhead. The route shown is just connecting the dots from when I got a location fix on my GPS, although I did edit a few points to add in a couple of key waypoints.

View Bacon Blum Scramble Route in a larger map

I also have a KML file of the route, which is really cool because you can load it into Google Earth and really see the terrain in detail; like a virtual tour!


Anyway, click the Read More for the complete day-by-day account:
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