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Messages - jamawani

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General Discussion / Re: camping on city parks
« on: February 15, 2016, 09:51:15 pm »
Preston -
I have found a general rule to be - "The smaller the town, the more likely to get permission."
If there is a KOA campground on the outskirts of a medium-sized town, they will expect you to stay there.
My favorite towns are those with a little park, a small grocery, and a cafe/bar.
Everything is right there and folks are usually really friendly.

Indy is right about the Northern Tier - but -
It can be a bear of a start for a relatively inexperienced tourer.
By the third day you are doing big climbs - up to Rainy Pass -
And, to add insult to injury, a steep drop and then up Washington Pass.
Plus there are four more passes before you reach Idaho.
It's a beautiful route, but lotza climbing right out of the gate.

I done all the legal crossings of the Cascades in Washington -
(Plus one that was - maybe - illegal. Hiked/Portaged my bike, didn't ride.)
I have a posting over at Crazyguy on the Washington passes.

Chinook Pass on Hwy 410 is, by far, the most beautiful and has the least traffic.
From the summit at Tipsoo Lake you have wildflowers and a stunning view of Mt. Rainier.
The pass doesn't open until Memorial Day and is snowed in until July 4th.
(I did did June with snowbanks and fog.) But in early August it is heavenly.

NPS Photo

There are two ways to hit Chinook Pass from the west -
1) Using Hwy 410 thru Enumclaw or 2) US 12 / Hwy 123 thru Morton
East of the pass are the magnificent American and Naches valleys with riverside camping.

As for the other passes:
Stevens Pass / US 2 - Moderately heavy traffic with little to no shoulders at times; worst choice.
Snoqualmie Pass - Can use I-90 (Why?) or unpaved John Wayne Trail and old service roads; tricky but doable.
White Pass / US 12 - Moderately low traffic, good shoulders, nice east side - but why not Chinook if you are this close?
Columbia Gorge / Hwy 14 - Moderately busy, shoulders variable, some remote stretches.


Not sure if you want to start on the actual Pacific Ocean or just on salt water. (Different strokes)
As I said earlier, the San Juan Islands are really sweet as a starting point.
You can take a pricey catamaran ferry from Seattle and back.
Or you can take an airport shuttle straight to the Wash. State Ferry docks in Anacortes.

Or you can take a shuttle out to Aberdeen and start at the Westport Lighthouse.
There are a number of routes from the coast to Chinook or White Pass.
ACA has a good portion as part of their "Washington Parks" loop -
But a route with less traffic and climbing is via Raymond, Chehalis, and Morton.

If interested - send me a private message and I'll offer you any specifics I know.

Best - J

PS - The Prism climate site at Oregon State Uni. has excellent temp/precip maps of the U.S. by month.

Do it now - - as Patrick Stewart said in Star Trek TNG - -

The Tetons in September

My first X-USA trip was from Astoria to the Outer Banks back in 1987.
Started on Sept 1 and finished on Nov 10.
But I was going in the other direction.
And I did a far more direct route than 4400 miles.

An autumn trip is quite nice northwest to southeast - a booger the other way around.
By late October, the days are getting pretty short and temps are iffy - even in the east.

Can you do it the other way?
Leaving from the San Juan Islands in early August - you can take the WA State Ferries.
Have beautiful late summer / early fall in the West
Then take the NC State Ferry out to the Outer Banks to finish.

General Discussion / Re: September/October Boston to San Fransisco
« on: February 11, 2016, 06:45:50 pm »
On my fall tours, I have always run into a few folks - esp. in the West.
In the East, cyclists get pretty rare by October unless you are in Vermont or other fall locations.

Sept is really a lovely month in the West.
The Western Express is a tough slog across Nevada.
I love Nevada and have cycled it 7 or 8 times thru every county.
But many people find the remoteness and distances between services daunting.

Of course, there is no place like San Francisco - so that might be a requirement.
But you could also cut over to Yosemite - then into Nevada.
Can't believe Yosemite is not on the WX - but Tioga Pass is closed 6 months of the year.

Another option is to start on the Central Oregon coast and take the Trans Am across Oregon -
Save 400-500 miles by cutting across the Sawtooths of Idaho -
Then rejoin the TransAm in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
Nevada and Utah are usually just scorched by late summer / early fall.
The more temperate northern regions have stunning river valleys and golden aspens.

There are lots of ways to do things.
If you time window is fixed - try for the very best tour within that window.

Best - J

Pic - September in the Tetons

General Discussion / Re: September/October Boston to San Fransisco
« on: February 11, 2016, 01:52:09 pm »
You are new here and I don't know how much experience you have - from the sound  of it, not much.

I did my first x-USA starting on Sept. 1 - but from the West coast.
The weather changes much sooner and unpredictably in the West than in the East.
Also - it should ideally be Northwest to Southeast.

I live in Wyoming now and have for 25 years.
October can be positively lovely in the Rockies, then quite nice.
But the possibility of real blizzards is there, for sure.
Not to mention that all park and national facilities are closed by then.

Do you have to do it east-to-west?


Routes / Re: Period to begin Great Divide Mountain Bike Road
« on: February 07, 2016, 05:35:38 pm »
Take it from someone who lives in Wyoming and has lived in Montana -
And have cycled paved and dirt roads all over.
September 1 is way too late.

Quite often the high country gets its first snowstorm right after Labor Day.
And there can be big snows by late September with blizzard conditions.
Yes, the weather can be glorious before and after but you can really get into trouble.

I am guessing that you are not from the U.S.
The Rocky Mountains - esp. the remote parts of the GDMBR - are not to be trifled with.

September 1 is a wonderful time to start a road trip in the Northwest -
And head southeast - ending in the Carolinas or Georgia.
You would usually have good weather the entire way. Early autumn.

Similarly, you could combine the Pacific Coast route with parts of the Cascades and Sierras.
The weather starts to change in Sept in the Cascades and Oct in the Sierras -
but nothing like trying to do the GDMBR in the Rockies.

The most concise answer I might give you is - - "98% no."

Pic - Early September Snow in the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming
(Nota - The aspen trees still have leaves on them.)

General Discussion / Re: Juneau - Seattle
« on: February 06, 2016, 01:08:58 pm »
PS - You can ride the Canadian Rockies staying in hostels every 30 miles/50 km.

General Discussion / Re: Juneau - Seattle
« on: February 06, 2016, 01:07:34 pm »
Google Maps is not necessarily your friend.
It is notoriously inaccurate - especially for cyclists.

Not sure of your experience level, how you tour, and how much of North American you have done already.
Three weeks is not a whole lot of time and less so if you add flying in and back.
Also, what time of year would you be considering?

I have cycled B.C. from top to bottom, Alaska, and the Yukon many times.
There are remote, dirt forest roads where you are little more than bear food.
And there are busy highways packed with cars and trucks zooming by.

Others are right about Juneau - there is no direct land connection.
The Yellowhead Hwy - Route 16 - between Prince Rupert and Prince George is pleasant -
but nothing to write home to Mom about - esp. if you have other untried options.

If you haven't ridden the Icefields Parkway in the Canadian Rockies - it is superb.
One possibility would be to fly into Calgary - ride the Parkway up to Jasper -
Then ride down to Kamloops, BC via Hwy 16 & Hwy 5 along the Blue River.
That would be about 500 miles / 800 km.

If you cover more miles, you can bike into Vancouver.
Or if you spend more time enjoying the parks, you can catch the train back.
I would certainly spend one day in VCV at Stanley Park and the world-class museum there.

Pic - Mount Robson - with incredible backcountry camping you can bike into

I know what they say about mad dogs and Englishmen -
But I'm not sure what they say about Scotsmen.

I took a look at previous posts to see what you were up to.
I doubt you would die if you started the WX on May 1,
but you might wish you were dead by the time you got to Kentucky in midsummer.
Especially for a Scotsman. Maybe not quite as hot as Calcutta, but almost.

If you start the WX on May 1, it will be chilly with snow still in the mountains.
The roads will be clear, but you could always have a late snowstorm, too.
Especially in the Rockies, it will be too early even for wildflowers.
And services - campsites, state parks - will still be limited.

It makes far more sense to start May 1 in the East.
May is a lovely month to cycle Virginia and Kentucky.
And you will hit the Great Plains before they are sweltering.
And you save the West - the best - for last.

Pic - Sonora Pass in the Sierras in late May

PS - I am a redhead (the term used in the colonies) too.
I cycle in inexpensive long-sleeve mock turtlenecks that are poly-cotton.
Maybe $11.99 each. usually have three bright colors.
And I use lightweight convertible nylon hiking pants.
I tuck in the cuffs in my socks.
And I zip them off when I'm not riding.
I would much rather cover up than slather up.

Southwest / Re: Albuquerque to Las Vegas - or other way round?
« on: January 31, 2016, 03:30:41 pm »
Actually, Nadine - it is easier to get a permit hiking down from the North Rim.
90% of tourists visit the South Rim, only 10% the North Rim - probably similar for inner canyon hikers.
There are 3 possible campgrounds for transcanyon hikers: (South Rim to North Rim)
Indian Gardens halfway down from the SR, Bright Angel at Phantom Ranch, and Cottonwood halfway to the NR.
There are also pricey cabins at Phantom Ranch and a less-expensive bunkhouse.

Indian Gardens and Bright Angel are booked solid for months in advance.
Cottonwood often has openings a few weeks out and cancellations the morning of.
By getting two nights at Cottonwood, you can hike down in late afternoon -
Spend a full day exploring the inner canyon with a light pack -
Then hike out during the cool of the third morning.

Done it many times.
Good luck and enjoy.


Pic - Hiking down the North Kaibab Trail along the sheer redwall

Of course there is a right -
The right of access is fundamental in Anglo-Saxon law and dates back to pre-Norman times.
A legally designated route - the Camino Real - has existed since 1769 when mapped out by Portola.
Spanish colonial and, later, Mexican legal right of way was preserved under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.

When the U.S. government purchased Rancho Margarita in 1942, it became part of the public lands, albeit for military purposes. And at that time, there were significant transportation corridors in place - roads and railroads. I do not have immediate access to the enabling legislation; however, I suspect strongly that access was specifically preserved. And I believe that there is a strong case that the shoulder of I-5 does not meet safe access for pedestrians and cyclists.

We live in an age with increasing militarization of all aspects of American life.
A waterway that has an impoundment or improvements by the Army Corps of Engineers.
Then becomes subject to military regulations and exclusions. Border checks up to 100 miles inland.
Although I am only one small voice, I believe it important to speak out.

PS - DOD facilities still occupy millions of acres in California.

And you think this is perfectly fine?

The Armed Forces have oodles of real estate - esp. in the West - California included.
It wasn't always so - huge bases were created during WWII and expanded during the Cold War.
But almost none of this real estate was released after the end of the Cold War.

The coastal corridor between present-day San Diego and L.A. has been a travel route since before the mission era.
To acquiesce to this new policy is not only to give away core access rights, but also to promote further erosion.
This new policy needs to be challenged vigorously - preferably by people in the immediate area.
I am still of the humble opinion that we have a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

Hi Alessandra -

Not sure about your touring experience and with your backcountry experience.
Also, 50 miles/80 km is not very far in remote parts of the West.
There are ACA routes with more than 80 miles/130 km between services.
And if you make your own routes, possibly further.

July 7 through August 20 is an ideal time for touring in the West.
That is the driest season for the Pacific Coast, but with this winter's rain, fire danger should be low.
Same goes for the Cascades and Sierras - excellent weather and low fire risk this year.
The Southwest and much of Nevada and Utah is usually extremely hot then.
But the Northern Rockies are beautiful - covered in wildflowers.

One of the issues is the amount of time it will take to get to the start and finish point.
You will have more options if you fly from Rome to Chicago -
Since Chicago has more connections to the West than eastern cities like New York.

If you can do a tour in both the U.S. and Canada there is a fabulous option -
Riding from Salt Lake City to Yellowstone to Glacier and thru the Canadian national parks.
Some of the finest riding in the world.

There are plenty of services and you will bump into other riders -
I think that might be important for a woman riding solo.

Another option is to ride from Santa Fe, New Mexico up to Glacier N.P.
This would keep you in the U.S. entirely.
You could start with the ancient Puebloan cultures of the Southwest, like Taos,
Then take in the parks of the Rockies in Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana.

Both of these can be all pavement - usually with low traffic -
Or you can include some dirt road options depending on your wishes.
Here's a journal with a section where I road north from Santa Fe to Glacier -

You can click for additional pages all the way up to Canada -
So it really covers both routes I outlined above.

The all-U.S. trip would be about 1500 miles / 2400 km or 400 km per week - molto probabile.
The U.S.-Canada trip would be also about 1500 miles / 2400 km.
That would give you plenty of time to explore or hike.

Best - J

Photo - Lake Josephine, Glacier N.P.

I've ridden every paved road and quite a few dirt ones between Glacier and Yellowstone.
I live in Wyoming and know both parks quite well.

First, I don't know your experience with touring and where you are from - i.e. back East.
Why? Because Going to the Sun Road, although not too difficult, is a tough start.
Not to mention that it makes a better dessert than first course.
In which case, riding from Yellowstone to Glacier would make more sense.
You would get an overall elevation loss, slightly prevailing winds, and the sun at your back, too.

As for route, I would suggest an easterly one largely following US 89. Whether S-to-N or N-to-S.
US 89 has significantly less traffic than other routes - plus you get stunning views of the Front Range.
Here's a map published by Montana DOT with summer traffic numbers:

All three highways heading north from Yellowstone US 287, US 191, and US 89 have a good deal of traffic -
But the US 89 route has a paved county road on the east side of the river that is virtually empty.
Plus the historic Chico Hot Springs where you can rent a cabin and soak.
North of Livingston, traffic on US 89 drops to very low levels with mountain ranges on both sides.
White Sulphur Springs is a funky springs town - certainly not an Aspen or Bend.

From there, US 89 heads over the Belt Mountains and down a long creek course with lots of camping.
US 287 heading into Helena has shoulders, but an insane level of traffic. (Your route above)
There is a back way into Great Falls from Belt with only a limited amount of highway riding.
Then the great stretch of US 89 heading up thru Choteau and Browning.
Hwy 83 on the west side had twice the traffic, fewer shoulders, and limited views.

Make sure to take in either Two Medicine or Many Glacier - or both - on the east side.
They have spectacular lakes and alpine scenery - Many Glacier has a cafe plus the elegant hotel.

If you are car supported, you will not be able to use the hiker/biker campsites in Yellowstone or Glacier.
Also, lodging is pricey and often booked long in advance near the parks.
I would urge you to finalize your plans and reserve camping/cabins - at least for the parks - by May 1.

Here's a tour I took 11 years ago using the US 90 route:

PS - North American Indian Days, one of the largest pow-wows, will be July 7-10 this year in Browning.

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