Had a great summer last…..uh, summer. With some of this:
Some of that:
Lots of this:
And, after all that, it was time for a bit of THIS!:
I had planned to head to the Chilcotin in mid-September for 7 to 10 days, but a bunch of other stuff (see above), plus Three boys (5, 15, 20), dog, job, house, meant that plans were adjusted and I set out to ride the WABDR in late September for 5 days.
, Thursday Sept 27th. Kissed my girl, waved goodbye to the 20 year old (off to class at UVIC), Chased the 15 year-old to school, dropped off the 5 year old at kindergarden (extra big hug for him), and back home to finish packing the bike. Tent, tools, sleeping bag, stove, fuel, food, maps, gps, spot, book, headlamp, camera, jam it all in the Great Basin and tank bag, off I go to catch the Sidney – Antecortes Ferry at noon. 20 min down the road and Bugger! forgot my wallet! – rip back to the house, grab it, and off again, still OK for time.
Beautiful day, warm, no wind. Halloween on the way, so lots of these in the fields on the Saanich peninsula.
Made the ferry terminal early, through US Customs stop #1 (no hassles – these guys/gals are usually great, regardless of the bad rep they have, and they have a tough job to do) and time for coffee before the ferry pulls in. Great ferry ride through the San Juans. Wandered about the boat, sporting my nearly-new, super-squeaky Sidis, and chatted with the happy folks. Mostly about the squeaky boots, but other stuff too. “Squeak-squeak…how yadoin, big feller? Those are some big boots ya’ll got there – where ya off too?” Squeaky-squeak…good thing you don’t have to sneak up on anybody! Say, what are boots like that for, and way?” and such.
Antecortes at 3, Customs checkpoint # 2 all good, a few quick stops (beer, apples, cash), then off through Burlington and up Highway 20, headed for Washington Pass. Nobody on the road past Newhalem, east and into the Cascades in the clear evening light, the bike running strong up first Rainy Pass, then Washington Pass. Perfect.
Made Washington pass just before dark and pulled into the overlook. Nobody there, so I rode out the footpath to the edge. Not a breath of wind. No sound at all but the bike ticking as it cooled. Perfect.
OK, now its dark and I am bagged, so back on the bike I go and blast down the pass (I love that hairpin) to the Klipchuck Forest Service campsite. Tent up, beer down, hit the SPOT to let Paula know all is OK, and into the bag with me. Now that was a good day. Just sayin’.
, I sleep in. Nice. Not too much of that in my day-to-day. But not too late! Too much fun to be had, so a quick boil up for coffee, then down to Mazama for gas and a breakfast bagel. Ham and egg. Sorry, no picture. Round thing with a hole in the middle, cut in half, toasted, fried egg, slice of ham, tomato, and more coffee.
At this point, I look to the sky and note that the sun, although it is there, is none too brilliant in the blueish haze. Bugger! Fires about, then. It has been dry for almost 2 months, so to be expected. I gas up, then decide to head up Harts Pass to have a look before heading east to pick up the WABDR at Twisp.
The road up the pass is lovely, heads up along lost creek, then up up up up to the alpine - colors mostly done, but the larches still full-on.
Rode to the pass then beyond, up to Slate Peak at 7488’. Nice 360 of the northern Washington Cascades, the Pasayten Wilderness, an off into southern BC as well.
Slate Peak is cool. Back in the 1950’s when those super-evil Ruskies were just itching to fly over here and bomb us all back to the stone age, a defense observation post was constructed here (part of the DEW line? ). In the process, they chopped 41’ off the top of the mountain and made it nice and flat. Anyway, some guy (I would say lucky guy, awesome place to hang out) would watch for the soviet Bear bombers, and if he saw them presumably radio somebody else and yell “the Russians are coming the Russians are coming” or something like that. But thankfully cooler heads prevailed, and they never came. Well done, all. Finally, the road to the peak is apparently the highest road in Washington State. Also cool.
Given where I was, I had to go for a wander, so I left the bike and ambled, squeaky boots and all, a ways down into the upper Pasayten drainage for a couple of hours. Very nice. Will return with the family for more extended explorations.
But, enough foot travel. This is a motorized excursion, and the WABDR beckons! Back down the pass, going a bit fast, and had to take evasive maneuvers or become the hood ornament of a white F350
. My fault entirely. Note to self. Slow the f@ck down.
Back to Mazama, then east on Highway 20 through Winthrop to Twisp, where I hoped to pick up the WABDR and head south (well, just east of Twisp, technically). As I headed east on 20 the smoke thickened greatly, so stopped into the visitors info centre in Twisp for some intel on the fire situation. This nice lady (and her cat) helped me compare the WABDR route with the active fire maps online.
Turns out that three major fires were strung out along the route heading south, and there was a major conflagration north of Ellensberg. Soooooooooooooo, change of plans. I decided to do the northern bit (up to the BC border), and explore either side of that for the 4 days I had. As it turned out this was just fine – lots to ride, and pretty country. Thanks, nice lady and cat.
So, new plan forming in real-time, I blast back to Winthrop, a quick bite to eat, more beer for tonight, charge my camera battery, and having finished my book the night before, get a new book (settled on Abe Lincoln, Vampire Hunter. I figured that since I was in the States, I should really read up on some American history). As I step back to the bike a little guy, bit older than Matteo (my youngest), walks by with his folks. He looks up at me and says, all shy, “I like motorcycles”. I give him a big grin. Me too, kid. Me too.
Back on the bike I head up the 39 into the hills, I pass this along the way:
I guess if I get hungry I these things might taste like chicken wings. I detour off the 39 to check out “First Bute lookout”. Easy ride up. Nice view and a cool old fire tower:
Now, this brings me to my next point. I am Canadian. Happily Canadian. Great country and all. There are lots of great things about Canada. But if these fire towers (like this one or the one on Slate Peak) were in Canada, they would be doomed. The first dipshit yahoo redneck who happened by in his mud bogger would burn that bastard down, after shooting at it for a while. That’s what we do in Canada. So, I guess what I am saying is, well done, America, for not shooting up and burning down everything in sight, just because you can. This bit of international complimentation is hard for me to write today, January 5th 2013, as today is the day that team USA won gold at the world junior hockey tournament, and Canada lost the bronze to the Russians. But, hockey aside, credit where credit is due.
Cool old cabin near the tower, accommodation form the watch crew i assume. We would burn this one down, too.
Back down to the 39, and turn left and head north, heading for a forest service site at Tiffany Spring. Nice ride, nobody around. Perfect. The 39 follows Boulder Creek, and is, oddly, paved for the first few miles. The slab ends soon though, and the FSR proper winds up into the hills through a huge burn.
As I head north I’m leaving the smoke behind, which is good. I find the site at Tiffany Spring, but It doesn’t grab me as a camp spot, and I am not ready to get off the bike today so I push on. Not too much further, I find Parachute Meadow and pull of the FSR – the meadow is dry, the moss nice and spongy, perfect for a good snooze, so I call it a day and up goes the tent.
Freeze dried beef noodle something , a large can of Fosters, about 300 ml of baileys, and I was done. I crawled in for a good snooze. About then the coyotes began to do their thing just a bit down the meadow – not the classic howl at the moon thing, but the bark, yammer, gargle, scream, fiends from the pit you name it thing. I know that they are only scraggly little coyotes, but you have to admit, that is a creepy sound. To distract myself from the mayhem I crawl in deeper and begin my study of Abe Lincolns early days as a vampire hunter. That guy kicked ass, no wonder you guys are all so keen on him.
More to come. Thanks for riding along.