Last weekend, Michelle and I drove out over the Cascades and into the arid region on the other side of the pass. It’s amazing the way the mountains hold the moisture on the Pacific side of the range; driving up through the rain forest to crest into the East Cascades is an amazing experience. As a kid, I used to come out to the Yakima Valley and I remember the first time we popped over the pass to come to Seattle: the transition from the stark, dry land of Central Washington to the lushness of the Pacific Northwest rain forests is as sharp as a knife’s blade. The reverse – the one Michelle and I took from Seattle – is just as remarkable.
We were on our way to Cle Elum to ride some trails we carefully picked out the previous week by pouring over topo maps of the area. As it turns out, many of the roads we elected to use to get to the trail head were unmaintained; unaware, we parked the car and climbed aboard our bikes to take the forest and old logging roads to get to the trail.
The mountains are a wilderness, and ill-prepared people die here all the time. Logging roads are especially dangerous because they look like good, solid roads, but in reality they just wander across the mountainside to provide a means to get lumber out of the area. The hard fact of the matter is that only one logging road ever leads out of the forest, all the others are dead-ends that branch off the one main road that takes you out.
Michelle and I thought we were riding along the main road but before long, the road didn’t match the map and was getting increasingly steep and difficult to pass. Not hard for a mountain bike, but too rocky for a car – and this was technically supposed to be a road. Finally, as an innocuous reminder of the wilderness we’re in, the road we were on stopped in a dead end. We had somehow gotten ourselves onto an logging road. Rather than try to find the correct road, we retraced our route down the mountain and went back to the car; we arrived about four hours later and, despite not having found the trail, we’d had a spectacular been part of an amazing afternoon in the woods. We jumped in the car, took it up another road and found the trails we were looking for within half an hour. We got back on our bikes and rode some incredible single track until it was time to head back home. After five hours of riding, we returned to the car, packed up, and headed up to Roslyn for a pizza dinner.
Nothing like slapping all those calories back on after a long day in the saddle.
By the way, I think Roslyn might be the nicest town on the planet. Everyone we met was beyond friendly. The topper was when I headed up to the counter to order another couple of beers and, before I got to the counter, the guy in front of me in line turned around and said, “Sit down. I’m buying your next round.”
“Why would you do something like that?” I asked.
“Because you’re in Roslyn.”
One last point, we found Man-Bear-Pig tracks. Talk about a scary experience. We’re super cereal.