Monday, July 28, 2014

Crystal Mountain Recap Unabbridged

It's a week late but better late than never, right?  OK!  The ground rules are the same.  I've uploaded pictures, I type up some recap in between the pictures that may or may not be applicable to the picture it is near, clicking the pictures makes them bigger, and a link to all the pictures is somewhere in here.

Friday July 18th I loaded up my stuff and Matt's stuff.  We were bound from the Crystal Mountain area, just East and a bit South of Mt. Rainier, for some camping and mountain biking.  Various others would be camping the entire time while others would come and go as their time allowed.

Deciding visual clues would help others find the campsite, Matt began drawing the visual clues while I drove.

He made up a bunch of paper plates signs, each with a bike, and each with an up, right, or left arrow.  As we got nearer

the paper plate visual finder aides were taped to various things.

We arrived and set up camp.  I found a nice level spot and put up my tent.

The campsite was immediately adjacent to Ranger Creek airstrip.  This dude did two fly-by's but this was a close to touching terra firma as he got.

  After the core group arrived we all changed into biking apparrel and were off to ride.  Friday's ride was to shuttle to the top of Suntop Mountain and then bomb down to the campsite, have a beer, and then head down Skookum Flats trail to the waiting cars.  On the way up Suntop there were excellent views of Mt. Rainier.

At the top of Suntop was a working fire lookout.  We chatted with the fire watcher dude,

signed the logbook

and then did the day's ride.  It was not without incident.  Rider Scott had some crashes.  One of which smashed his sunglasses into the bridge of his nose cutting him and the same tree punched him in the face hard enough he received a nasty cut a bit above an eyebrow.  Unfortunately, he was then done for the weekend and ended up going in to get three stitches to close the gash.

Saturday was a ride up Palisades Trail.  Below is a picture of the top of Palisades at the top of the rocks.  The picture was taken from the campsite near the airstrip.

Once on top, we could see the airstrip below as shown by the picture below.

About 1/2 of Palisades, if one chooses to go up it, is hike-a-bike.

The riding parts provided incredible views.

In the picture below, on the side of the mountain, there's a part where the trees are noticeably shorter.  That was a logging clear cut area from a few years back.  It has filled in nicely.

Get to the top, have someone else take a picture of me and the Ellsworth!

We'd had enough climbing where Palisades Trail intersected with Ranger Creek Trail.  At the cabin/shelter thing we Clif barred and then began the bomb down Ranger.

We were almost done.  We could see the road into our campsite from the trail.  The options were to ride a very steep, loose section, cross the highway, and be back, or, ride down Ranger another 200 yards, ride the highway back 200 yards, and be back.  Matt took off down the steep stuff.  I followed.  He attempted to stop.  I attempted to stop and gracefully dismount.  One very ungraceful dismount later and I had an ouch.

'Tis but a flesh wound!  It was scrubbed out, beer was consumed, and then we determined Sunday's plan.

What's planning without a wee bit of rain?  Boring, that's what.

Sunday the clouds were flying low.  Sunday's ride was to be up one side of Crystal Mountain and down another.  It didn't take too long and we ascended into the clouds.  We stayed in the clouds all day and did get out of them until back to the cars and were driving back down the final portion.

The vertical climb for the day was approximately 2800 feet.  We topped out and found a handy sign and clock.

Not having your picture taken by a sign and clock is as bad forgetting to bring beer on the three-day trip.

The group was glad to be done with the major climbing of the trip.

The top portion of Crystal mountain makes for sketchy riding.  The good news - fast down hilling.  The bad news - coming around a curve to find yourself on a scree field.  Fortunately, no one went down on the scree.  The other good news - riding on snow!

We'd made it about half way down when we rounded a curve and found a mine shaft.  Three of the five of us went in.  It had a narrow gauge ore cart rails and was an average of 5 1/2 feet high.  More than once my bike helmet saved me from another ouch.

We estimated we followed the shaft in about 200 yards.  The shaft kept going.  Our riding partners not in the mine shaft were outside doing mortal battle with the mosquitoes.  We elected to head back out and finish our ride.

It was a great three-day weekend.  We climbed, we down-hilled, we had many beers and campfires.  We did remember to retrieve our paper plate visual aides on the way back.  The link to the whole set of pictures is HERE.

I'm traveling for work starting today.  I arrive back at Seattle Tacoma airport Thursday evening.  From there I head directly to Whistler, B.C. for three days of more mountain biking adventure.  Pictures and recap of that when I get back.

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