Starting in Hermiston, OR and going through Goldendale, Yakima, the Iron Horse rail-to-trail, Seattle and Mount Vernon.
Starting out after the MVBC Loop Tour. Very hot for the first few days, then quite cool for the rest. I never had to ride more than 2 days in a row to get from one friend to another. Very enjoyable,.
Below is my log for each day of the tour. Use the navigation controls to scroll through the days .
Left the security and camaraderie of the bike club and headed off solo. Robert dropped me off in Hermiston where I got a motel room. Did laundry and got organized. Started riding at 5:30 this morning to beat the heat. It worked out well as I got to the store in Roosevelt by noon.
From Hermiston to Umatilla I was on 395 but it was early and little traffic. The bridge over the Columbia was a protected bike path as it showed on Google Maps, which is why I chose this route. Once in Washington it did some funny, but well marked, stuff to route cyclists under the freeway and on to a very quiet country road heading west. There was even a nice looking campground there in Plymouth I wish I had known about. There was nothing else here but a few big orchards. After a while the road climbed north away from the river and met highway 14. There was a good shoulder here which was nice as there were a lot of trucks. The road mostly stated away from the river but every noiw and then I had a nice view. Very barren desert terrain otherwise. When I got to Patterson there was a big junction and most of the trucks turned north to Prosser. There was a store that was shut down and nothing else. There would be nothing else until Roosevelt, still a ways off.
It was hot but there was a light headwind that kept me cool enough. Still I was pretty dead when I got to Roosevelt. The store there is great. They even have a log book for cycle tourists. This is on the ACA Lewis and Clark route so they do get some. The Roosevelt park was a real oasis, shady and green with a nice swimming beach. It even has free camping and hot showers. There was a fellow from Vancouver who was here for the wind surfing but the wind was calm so he was just hanging out. The camp host was a cyclist and a wind surfer who entertained us with some interesting tales of life on the Columbia. I found some trees to hand my hammock and had a good rest, then made diner, pitched my tent and had a good sleep.
Started later than I would have liked and then when I got up to the Mini Mart I had to wait another hour for them to open. I didn't dare to go on without extra water, ice tea, and gatoraide. Turned off the highway at Sundale and things were looking good. It was steep but there was shade from poplar trees along a big apple orchard. I got above the orchard and the shade was gone but it soon leveled out and turned to gravel. I was thrilled. A real gravel adventure on unknown roads. A man in a pickup stopped to see if I was lost. I told him my route and he said it was correct and that there would be some steep climbs. Sundale road continued climbing at a moderate grade on good gravel until it hit Old Highwsy 8 which is paved. I stopped in the shade of a small tree for a snack. A man came by on a quad and stopped. He looked at me like " what the hell?" He said there was a climb ahead that would be brutal with no shade and that he would be heading to Goldendale soon and could take me. I thanked him and said I think I could make it.
I continued on and soon the road dropped down a huge canyon. Several miles of fast downhill I knew I'd have to pay dearly for. I stopped at the bottom in the last shade before what I learned was a 3 mile climb. I got started and realized this was going to be seriously brutal. I would have to stop often. I had enough water but it was already very hot and there was no shade. Right on queue along comes the farmer I met. Stops his truck and cattle trailer in the middle of the steep road, jumps out, helps me load the bike in the trailer and off we go. I could see that the grade was very steep, perhaps 10%. I don't think I would have made it without Jason and his wife Kim coming to my rescue. They dropped me off at the top and said it was all downhill to Goldendale.
I was know in the middle of a huge wind farm with Hood and Adams staring me in the face, and Jefferson and St. Helens visible in the distance. I could also see how huge those wind turbines are up close. It was all downhill from here to Goldendale on some nice roads so I stopped often to take pictures. Once again Google took me down some gravel roads which was great. Eventually I crossed the main road into Goldendale and got on Pipeline road for the 6 mile ride to Tobiah and Adar's place. Good to see old friends I haven't seen for many years. I stayed 3 nights with them.
Into town from Tobiah and Adar's place.
Truckin through the Yakima Indian Nation.
Google maps directed me to take some logging roads to get back to 97. Tobiah doubted it at first but then thought it could work. I headed out nice and early and things were looking good for the first 2 miles. Then things changed. The nice fine gravel turned to coarse rocks. The road got steep. I got off and pushed a couple of time. I kept going thinking maybe the right turn I was supposed to take soon would be a better road. Then came the gate. No need to push on, I just turned around and flew back down. I probably only lost about 45 minutes on this dead end, and quickly found the paved route which got be to highway 97.
Once on the highway I quickly passed the remaining farmland and was soon in the woods climbing towards Satus Pass. There were actually 3 summits. You could call the first two false summits but the had a significant downhill, which of course was elevation I would have to do over again. Near one of these summits was a Greek Orthodox monastery with a nice bakery/cafe. I stopped for a pastry and a drink. Vey nice.
Once over the final pass there was a big sign that I was entering the Yakima Nation. I didn't get to meet any of the people but I guess they are doing well. They even issue their own license plates. The only encounter I had was a nice one. I was on a not very busy road when a car behind me slowed down and waited patiently to pass even tough there was plenty of room. When they passed a young Indian woman in the passenger seat waved and gave me a sweet smile.
It was interesting that the inhabitants of most of the towns in the Yakima Indian Nation where of Mexican decent rather than native. This of course is the Yakima Valley, famous for its apples and other crops. I was really hoping to see some small fruit stands and get some cherries but I saw none. I did stop at a wonderful Mexican restaurant in Wapato for some lemonade.
There were no campgrounds and opportunities for stealth camping did not look attractive. I pushed on to Union Gap just south of Yakima. There I found a genuine natural food store that seemed out of place but welcome. It was adjacent to the marijuana dispensary. I stopped and got a cold Knudsen's Recharge which really hit the spot. From there I easily found the Super 8 motel for the night.
The Yakima Greenway Trail, Yakima Canyon and the Iron Horse John Wayne Trail.
The start of the Greenway Trail was very close to the motel I stayed at in Union Gap. There was a detour right at the beginning but it was probably even nicer than the main route. The Yakima River is wide and fast flowing here. I completely skirted Yakima on a nice bike path which ended somewhere near Selah. From there it was a few connecting roads to road 821, a.k.a Canyon Road.
Canyon Road should be on every cyclists must ride list. Its closed to trucks which is good as it is narrow without much shoulder. This being a big holiday weekend there were a lot of cars, but everyone was courteous and gave me lots of room. It was a very scenic ride. As to be expected on a road that follows a river up a canyon the road would climb up off the river, and then zoom back down. There were a few steep climbs, but they were pretty short. There were a number of BLM recreation areas that were full up for the weekend. Lots of river rafting and fishing.
As I approached the top of the canyon the mountains came into view. It was a joyful moment to see the mountains again. While it can be beautiful in its own way I'm not that at home in the desert and I was really looking forward to getting back into the forests and mountains.
But first there was the wind. Ellensburg may be one of the world's windiest places and I was riding straight into it. It wasn't far from the end of Canyon Road to the junction of the John Wayne Trail. Although it is called by both names it is officially the John Wayne Trail, which runs through Iron Horse State Park. I was pleased and relieved that the trail was well packed gravel and very ridable with my 2 inch tires. I know further east there is a lot of sand and I wasn't sure about this section. There were some spots with loose gravel but my fat tires just floated right through it. I was really going to enjoy this ride, that is if I wasn't riding into a 25 mph headwind.
The first 10 miles or so was through farmland and fields. The trail parallels I-90 an in some spots was close enough to hear it. I was getting tired and beat up by the wind and started looking for a place to camp. There was not much as the railroad bed is raised up and drops off steeply to either side. Somewhere near Thorpe it crossed a side road by a freeway exit where there was a store. I had a nice ice cream break and met a father and son who were riding mountain bikes from Cle Elum. Must be nice with the wind at your back. A little further up, and still battling the wind I met a woman walking her dog. She pointed ahead to were the trail entered the trees and said I'd be back in the river canyon and the wind would not be as bad. Sure enough the trees offered some shelter. The trail was now on a wider ledge a hundred feet or so above the river. I soon found a decent place to camp for the night that was already getting some shade from the trees and ridge to the south.
The river was wide and very fast here and pretty quiet. The wind however roared all night. I was able to get my tent up during a lull. At first I left the rain fly off but I got up in the night and put it on to better hold the tent down and offer some protection from the wind. Even with the wind I slept quite well. I was dead tired from 2 long days of riding, and finally away from it all and camping in the wild.
Second day on the Iron Horse Trail.
The wind blew hard all night long and kept right on blowing in the morning. I was in no hurry but still got going fairly early. With the fierce wind in my face I could only manage 6 mph. Waited until I reached a picknick table to make my tea. There were 3 or 4 spots in this stretch, one of which had a pit toilet and 3 actual tent sites. I hope to see more of that as I continue. After a while it stated getting colder and there were dark clouds to the west. It even sprinkled a bit.
I met a rider named Dan going the other way. He had a 29er mountain bike pulling a Bob Ibex trailer. He had come through the Snoqulamie tunnel the day before and said there were lots of people and kids. I went through 2 short tunnels today. My light did not seem super bright in the tunnel. Bright enough though. The trail continued to be well packed gravel which would have been easy riding without the wind.
There was a steep hill to climb to get to Ron and Tish's house. After a day on the rail-to-trail it was different to be back on pavement climbing hills. I really like the 2% grade.
The forecast is for rain in the mountains and on the west side for 2 days and then partly sunny on Wednesday. I'll probably stay here tomorrow and wait it out.
Short ride. Cold and gray. Followed the Yakima a little more and then finally left it behind. Camped by a big reservoir. The freeway is on the other side but the camp is in the woods so I can't here it. Light rain. Should be nicer tomorrow.
It was cold in the mountains so I kept on riding.
Got up early but was in no hurry to get going. Seemed like it would be a nicer day. Nothing much exciting from where I camped to the tunnel. The headwind was gone so it was very easy riding. There were some signs for the train stops that used to be.
Got my lights on and started riding into the tunnel. My light seemed inadequate, I suppose because my eyes were not yet acclimated to the dark. Almost from the start I could see the light at the end of the tunnel 2 miles away. I saw another, whiter light coming towards me. It was a woman heading for Cle Elum. First cyclist I met on the trail was in the tunnel. As I continued on I started making up a song "There's a light at the end of the tunnel ...". It never came together but it had a nice sound. And then I was through. There were some picnic tables so I stopped for a snack. The sun was out and it felt warmer, but as soon as I started riding it was cold again. Now the 2% grade was downhill and I was riding faster. I was doing 8-9 mph uphill and now I was doing 12-14. The surface improved as well with less loose gravel. I met another pair of cyclists that were headed for Ellensburg, and another one headed to the tunnel and back. Soon there were more people out for day rides. There was also a class of kids learning rock climbing.
Passed the first of two campgrounds which looked pretty nice with spots off in the woods and one right on a creek. Got to the second campground, where I was planning on staying, and it was not so nice. Plus it was cold, and early in the day. I only had about 18 miles. So I kept going thinking maybe there would be other places to camp, but the realization that I would ride all the way to Seattle kept growing.
The JWPT ended and the Snoqualmie Valley Trail began with little disruption. In some ways this part of the trail was even nicer as it was very green and followed the Snoqualmie River. After about 10 mile on this there was a bridge across the river and then a steep set of stairs down to a road. I could see a sign that the trail continued after the road, but I did not want to negotiate those stairs so I headed back about a mile to the last cross road. I had Google Maps reroute from there and kept riding. It never took me back to the Snoqualmie Valley Trail. Instead it took me through the town of Snoqualmie and then got me lost in a neighborhood. Once again I was saved by a local. Brent or Brett was out on a road bike and offered to guide me to the Snoqualmie-Preston trail. We wound around neighborhoods, through a no-cars access road, and down a really steep hill. I don't know how I ever would have found it. He said goodbye at the trailhead and headed home while I continued, now back on course. This trail was paved but soon turned to dirt single track down a steep switchback trail. I had to walk. I would have walked even on a mountain bike. At the bottom it continued a long a road and then back into the woods on a nice paved bike path.
Mostly on the Burke-Gillman trail. It was dark when I got back but with all the street light you wouldn't know it.
Went into town to see John Strayer playing. Then went to Free Range Cycles in Freemont, and then Performance Bike in U district. Got turned around a few times, but never lost.
Got a late start but we drove to the ferry terminal. Very hilly, especially as soon as we started riding. Very scenic as well. We did the shorter route which was fine with me. Even though Lorri was on her MTB I still had to work really hard to keep up with her.
Got a fairly early start. It wasn't quite as cold this morning as it has been. BG trail to Bothell then roads to Snohomish, then the Centennial Trail for 5 miles, and then back on roads.
Lots of hills at the end, especially a really steep hill up to Bill and Lisa's house.
Bill and Lisa's place is actually south of Granite Falls near Lake Bosworth.
Jordan road from GF to Arlington. Centennial Trail for a few miles, then 9 and some back roads.
Actually stayed with Trust and Modesty in Miunt Vernon Sundy night. Made it much easier to get to the train station in the morning.