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Messages - Itinerant Harper

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Routes / Re: Palouse to Cascades Trail West of Ellensburg
« on: January 07, 2022, 08:30:32 pm »
I've ridden the trail Rattlesnake Lake to Ellensburg with a fully loaded touring bicycle more than once. It's no problem.  Hardpacked gravel pretty much the whole way. Even when they regravel it, it is usually packed and shallow above hardpacked dirt. The trestles have larger ballast on them and can be more of a trial but I've always found there to be ruts on it. Anyway plenty of info on this out there and I can share what I know. 

Plenty of pictures of the trail from my last tour on it here:

General Discussion / Re: Bear safety on the GDMBR
« on: October 20, 2020, 10:38:26 am »
Sounds like you have all the right ideas. I had an Ursack with the oder blocking bag (a giant ziplock basically) inside.  I hung them every time, or used bear boxes if they were available.  Had bear spray conveniently mounted on the bicycle and kept it at hand hiking or sleeping. Cooked away from the tent. &c

The GDMBR is super popular; I was really surprised by how many people I saw on it.  Even in the bulk of the wild camping sites I did there were other people around. That I think is a big bear deterrent. Grizzly's won't be afraid, but if they aren't "used" to humans and there is a group I suspect they are less likely to check it out.

I saw one grizzly --mama with cub-- as I rode out of the Tetons. They crossed the road uphill from me and I stopped and waited them out.  About as good as it gets for a Grizzly sighting :)

Rode over this yesterday. There is a dirt “bridge” that you can ride over for now. I crossed after work had stopped for the day, so can’t say if they’d let you cross while they are working on it. There was a USFS person there who did talk to me about it but was cool. So YMMV I guess.

My favorite bicycle shop in Seattle is Freerange Cycles. I've been going there for over a decade and it is the best shop for touring, practical and randoneuring bicycles.

The other shop I just started using before I moved, where I had my bike packing bike worked on and tubless tires mounted is Back Alley bicycles whome I think are the best place to go for that kind of work.

Both of these shops have really great people and the best wrenches. Freerange will build you the best wheels, especially touring wheels.

There are a million other great shops in the city, 2020 Cycles, Recycled Cycles, Aarons Bicycle Repair and so on.  Find the one that's in the neighborhood you are in.

Routes / Re: Seattle - Vancouver: 7 days/6 nights
« on: March 01, 2018, 04:41:54 pm »
Yeah it’s a shame — I really enjoyed the h/b sites there.

Routes / Re: Seattle - Vancouver: 7 days/6 nights
« on: March 01, 2018, 03:24:53 pm »
South Whidbey State Park no longer allows camping. That means that Fort Casey is the closest campground, which is certainly doable but a lot longer ride (and Whidbey is plenty hilly). The closest camping to the city would be on Bainbridge Island, but might be too close.  What I personally would do (and have done more than once) is ride up to Port Townsend and camp either at Fort Townsend (closer) or Fort Worden (more scenic). Both have h/b areas.  You then are also in PT which is always a nice visit.  Then the ferry to Keystone and you’d be the same as if you’d ridden to Fort Casey.

Pacific Northwest / Re: Crossing the Columbia River
« on: January 27, 2017, 11:39:49 am »
I've crossed the Astoria Bridge twice, most recently the summer of 2016. The first time was in a windstorm and that wasn't fun at all. But last summer it was fine.  The shoulder had a lot of debris in it - logging trucks use this bridge - and more than one dead seagull.  I'd ride the bridge again as well, but if it is really windy consider the bus option.

Routes / Re: Deception Pass State Park, Washington
« on: January 12, 2017, 12:42:50 pm »
So I grew up on Fidalgo Island (and later Whidbey) about 2 miles from Deception Pass Bridge. I've ridden, walked and driven across it more time than I can count. So here is the insider view: It is of course legal to ride across it.  It is plenty busy but it is in two sections with Pass Island in-between.  You always want to stop at Pass Island and let cars go by.  The other important thing to note is that most people are looking at the view and often drive very slow.  Sometimes it seems like they appreciate the "excuse" to drive extra slow being behind a bicycle.  Locals of course may not be as susceptible to the view (though I've never grown weary of it) and may grit their teeth a bit. But again, it is two short sections.  When riding across take the lane and ignore the view and focus on your peddling. Once on Pass Island stop and walk out to the center of each span to take in the views. Also when starting from either side worth waiting for a "strategic" moment to pull out where there is a gap in cars. Often cars trying to turn to the pull offs will create some big gaps on busy days.

Again with the planes, it is terrible and I have to say those of us who lived there were generally not fans.  However their practice was not a daily, nor even weekly occurrence.  It was an occasional thing, though like I said above, could be all day when it occurs. That being said on Fidalgo Island the plane noise is plenty audible on the south end as they turn around to return toward the base.  But on the north end, where Anacortes is and Washington Park with it's H/B sites it isn't much of a concern. There is lots of great riding on Fidalgo (Check out the Community Forest lands if you like some off road riding) and also on Whidbey (especially South Whidbey) and great hiking, trails and camping on both islands.  I wouldn't pass it up due to occasional plane noise.

Routes / Re: Deception Pass State Park, Washington
« on: January 11, 2017, 11:46:25 am »
The road down to Cranberry lake is certainly a good descent, but nothing too severe. I'd say no stretch of it greater than 9% grade and less most of the time.

You definitely can get airplane noise from NAS Whidbey at Deception Pass State Park.  They do 'touch and go's' with multiple planes in a tight pattern all day sometimes.  Most days this won't occur, but it's not a good time when it does.

Routes / Re: Why does the PC route bypass Olympic Peninsula?
« on: August 11, 2016, 04:11:43 pm »
It would be interesting to see why ACA chose such an inland routing. I have a strong feeling it's because they wanted to avoid the Astoria-Megler Bridge across the Columbia, which is daunting for some (and would probably lead to complaints at ACA.) The ACA route uses the Westport Ferry instead, which is cool, but that section of US 30 from Westport west to Astoria is busy and can be hairy.

I bet you are right about that. There is no perfect route there, but that is often the case.  Personally what I really like to see on maps, is a lot of options.  I think it'd be nice if ACA had all of these route options on the maps (though obviously there are limitations). Like the Kirkendall and Spring they could easily have a Coastal Route and and Inland Route.  Something I hope they consider for the next edition (and hey ACA I'm available to help with WA routing - there are some better options than K/S have as well ;) )

Routes / Re: Why does the PC route bypass Olympic Peninsula?
« on: August 11, 2016, 02:41:41 pm »
The Kirkendall/Spring book goes west from Olympia to the coast, though. And the combination of SR 6 and the Willapa Hills Trail west from Chehalis is another great way to get to the coast at Raymond.

Kirkendall/Spring has both an Inland route along the Sound to Shelton (where it turns West) and a Coast route using 101 around the Peninsula.  They take 101 around Crescent Lake which as you note is among the worst sections on the the coast.  There I'd instead take 112 along the Strait of Juan de Fuca as WA Parks does.

In general there is nothing wrong with ACA's "I-5" route (though basically it's Cascade's long available STP route) and those of us who ride down there certainly ride all over that. It's just not the Pacific Coast in an area where actually riding along the Pacific Coast is an option and pretty great.

Routes / Re: Why does the PC route bypass Olympic Peninsula?
« on: August 11, 2016, 12:01:45 pm »
Yeah I think it's ridiculous that the ACA route doesn't actually include the WA Pacific Coast.  I've lived in WA for 40 years and have been out in the peninsula throughout that time and just can't agree that there has been major changes there that has suddenly made it "tourable". The services have remained the same (if towns have grown of course) and are pretty reasonably space out.  The WA coast is a far more rugged and wild coast then the tame (though wonderful) OR Coast. Only very Northern CA coast compares and is of course different.  And while there are plenty of places where the route ducks in from the coast it's not like you are riding on the beach the whole time on any stretch of the coast.  Not to mention there is a distinct difference between the northern and southern stretches of the coast and on the southern end you are pretty close to the water for long stretches if you use 105, 109 as well as 101. 

Finally even if you want to take the inland route along the Sound and Hood Canal at the very least the Coast Route should from Elma (where WA Parks inexplicably starts) take the back roads and 105 to the Coast at Twin Harbors State park and down the coast and along the bays to Cape Disappointment.  There is great views, great parks and great riding on this stretch and this isn't part of WA Parks, so no way to do all of the WA coast on ACA rates...  Why anyone would want to take the inland route near I-5 (which does have some nice places, but just doesn't compare) beyond being in a real hurry, is bizarre to me.

In my opinion you haven't "ridden the Pacific Coast" if you don't do the WA section and I always recommend people to use the Kirkendall and Spring book along with the ACA maps for this reason.

Pacific Northwest / Re: Overnight Parking for Iron Horse Trail
« on: August 03, 2016, 05:17:50 pm »
So there is parking for the Iron Horse Trail at Rattlesnake Lake. There is specific parking for the trailhead with a pay station at it past the parking for the the lake.  There are several other trailheads where one can pay to park and then get up to the IHT.

Additionally it wouldn't be hard to find parking in North Bend where you could leave your car and then ride the Upper Snoqualmie Valley Trail to Rattlesnake Lake and the IHT.

Routes / Re: Sierra Cascades, Primitive Camping, and Bears. Oh my!
« on: June 20, 2016, 11:46:11 am »
So there is lots of wild camping opportunities on this route.  You are pretty much in National Forest Land the entire time where it is legal to camp. This is not the case in National Parks of course. So for instance I camped in the Nat'l Forest just outside of Crater Lake National Park.

As for bears they are there. I never encountered one close up though, but of course YMMV. I always hung my food up if there wasn't a bear box. My basic procedure is to take precautions but don't stress about it.

So I'd go North to South. First off the maps are setup that way and while ACA always makes a token effort to do the opposite direction the maps are just not as useful the other way (for instance the elevation charts only have the distances from left to the right in the "preferred" direction. They easily could put at the top of the chart the distances in the opposite direction but they chose not to).  Secondly the mountains and passes get higher and higher from North to South.  Just starting out before you get acclimatized to climbing a pass every day (and you will, sometimes more than one) it is better to have the lower climbs. Thirdly the heat.  It gets really hot in SoCal (record temps right now for instance) so it's better to start in the north where its cooler. It does depend on the time of year and such you are doing it.  When I rode it, I was often hitting 90 - 100 degree (F) days in the San Joaquin. I chose not to ride the final map (starts in the Mojave pretty much) due to the heat and reports I'd gotten that a number of the campgrounds had no water.  All the locals recommended spring or autumn for riding the Mojave/Joshua Tree area not August/Sept. which is when I was there.

Pacific Northwest / Re: Iron Horse Trail conditions?
« on: January 15, 2016, 11:24:17 am »
I rode North Bend to Cle Elum on 38s. There is at least one section where it's pretty soft but I just took it slower. Personally I wouldn't ride it on 28s, but I wouldn't ride pavement on 28s either, but I'm sure you could make do. It'd be more pleasant on something 35 and up though.

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