Sunday, November 30, 2008

LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN EPIC

For a while now, prolly ever since I got the 29er, I've been itchin' to get to the top of Lookout Mountain, the higher hill to the south that you see from the top of Galbraith. Today, the Clark Man and I got there. Here's how we did it. Time was somewhat a factor, so instead of heading up Galbraith then down road 4000 to where it comes out across from Sudden Valley Gate 13, we rode from our homes in the Columbia neighborhood out to Sudden Valley. That took about 50 minutes.
We followed Lake Louise Road for a couple miles (I guess; I have an altimeter but no odometer), past Stimpson Family Reserve, past Gate 13, and just across from Gate 9, we took a right at the gated road painted with the words, "Lookout Mountain Preserve". From there we headed up. And up. And up. (See above. That's John. Heading up.)
We went straight (or left according to the topo map) at a junction lower down and then just followed the gravel road to a fork at about 2,100 feet el. Here's where we didn't know where to go. The map shows two seperate tower areas--one to the left (south) at 2,676 feet and one to the right (north) at 2,677 feet. Our friend Steve Noble had e-mailed me that from the lower tower, you could bushwack for about seven or eight minutes then find a road that descends all the way to the Plantation Rifle Range just above Lake Samish.
Lower tower must mean the south one, right? Don't you think of south as lower than north? And 2,676 feet is lower than 2,677, innit? So we headed left and climbed another 600 feet to the south tower. Which, guess what ... anyone? ... wasn't the tower we wanted. Still, though there weren't any views, it was cool to be up there. (Here're some stats: from Lake Louise Road we climbed 2,200 feet in about an hour and 10. BTW, these towers are about 900 feet higher than Galbraith Mountain's towers.)
So, we headed over to the north and, apparently, lower tower, dropping 600 feet awfully darn quickly, only to have to immediately start climbing right back up again. (In general, we don't climb as fast as we descend.) On the way back up, we kept ours eyes open for any semblance of a trail. Just above, John bushwacks following something that petered out to nothing but at least we were getting views here--south toward Lake Samish. We were above the clouds and the cloudbank over the lake was stunning.
Just before reaching the north towers, the road splits, go left and make for the near tower a couple hundred yards to the south; that's where you'll find the trail. (Did anyone else notice a change in the authors' point of view?) In fact, just above, John is standing right where you'll find it. The trail goes south for a few hundred yards across a clear cut, then just before entering some trees, turns left and drops steeply across and down the hillside. (There was some pink flagging in the trees, but I wouldn't depend on it being there forever.) Our bikes on our shoulders, we hike-a-biked for about 10 minutes until we found ourselves on a gravel road overlooking Lake Samish. We were now on the south side of the mountain.
(Backtracking a bit, below is the view of Galbraith Mountain from the north tower. The clear-cut to the left is Woopsie-Woodle, the clear-cut to the right is Wonderland. The towers are in the wooded section in the middle. Tomorrow I'll put this up so you can click on it and see it bigger and better.)
Now back on road, we followed logging roads and the like all the way down. (NOTE: As soon as you get on your bike go right, then left at the first switchback. Don't go straight and down here; the road dead-ends just ahead.) Eventually we ended up at the Plantation Rifle Range which, despite giving us heart attack after heart attack from the sound of exploding firearms, was a most welcome sight. From there we headed home and ... I got a flat tire near the Sehome Haggen. A minor inconvenience. ('specially since I went to Starbucks and had coffee whilst waiting for Jen and Bake to come pick me up).
A truly extraordinary ride! I've no idea how we'll top it. But we look forward to trying.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

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The Clark family and friends Thanksgiving Day ride took off for Galbraith this moring. Great time--John, Darren and Tom (I think) Clark, Doug Hyldahl, Steve Vanderstaay, Roger Leischner, and some others including Baker and I. Bake's first ride with the big boys, as it were. He did super! Up Miranda/Ridge to Cedar Dust, the Wall (on which Bake earned huge King of the Mountain points), 187, after which we parted--Bake and I to SST way and the others to the Three Pigs side of the world. Above, Bake catches a little air near the end of SST.
Photography fun:


Yesterday, I rode the Hemlock Trail up to Pine Lake of Pine and Cedar Lakes fame. Beautiful; the lake was glass.

Finally, pick up the latest copy of Adventures NW (http://www.adventuresnw.com/) which hit stores earlier this week. I've got a story in there which features photos of Team Unattacked members John C. and Scott Y.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

IT WASN'T SUPPOSED TO RAIN

Forecast said clearing was on the way so John, Vanderstaay and I headed down the Interurban to the Burnout Road and all the way to the top. Lots of climbing on the Burnout with three crazy-steep pitches. Rained harder the higher we got and the descent wet, cold, and slippery. Especially cold. Fast and muddy too, as shown by the above photo of John Clark who, with his mud mustache, resembles Charlton Heston in "Touch of Evil."
A really fun ride. Below, John and Steve make to the top of the second crazy-steep pitch enveloped in a rain cloud.
We shall do more rides like this!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

PITCHERS O' STUFF

I'm taking a photography class from Tore Ofteness (www.toreofteness.com), long-time B'ham photog, so I put the boy through the ringer trying to come up with some action shots. Sehr fun.
Earlier, I rode the Salal/Hush-Hush trail, one I've run numerous times but never ridden all the way. Pretty twisty and windy and kind of unridable near the top but glad I did it. Whilst I was riding Steve Noble was on his own epic--out the Burnout Road and various unnamed trails and gravel roads to Blanchard Mountain. Seven hours he was out. Clark and I will have to try that one soon.

PEAK 2 PEAK

Check out my story in today's Seattle Times about Whistler-Blackcomb's new gondola which takes passengers from high on Whistler to high on Blackcomb without first having to descend to the village. Here it is: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/snowsports/2008411316_nwwwhistler201.html

Sunday, November 16, 2008

MORE MTB


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Chris Behee's Galbraith map shows 70 different named trails and Bake's and my goal is to ride them all. Saturday we added eight--Dan's, The Sh*t, Pick Up Sticks (Purple Heart), B.S., Reflux, Meat Grinder, Art's Trail and Old Issues--bringing our total to 54, most of which we've done in the past month. Overall, our Galbraith favorites so far are Mullet, SST, 911, Cheech and Chong's Wild Ride, Wonderland, and Upper and Lower Bob's. Sunday, John Clark and I went on a semi-epic. Out the Interurban, up Cleator, down the Chinscraper, up and down to Lost Lake, then back to town through Arroyo Park. Above, what's with Clark's rock star sneer? Who does he think he is--Kurt Cobain?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

MOUNTAIN BIKE TRAINING CAMP

After today's Galbraith Mountain ride, Bake and I took out the Galbraith map and counted up how many different trails we've ridden up there. The answer? Forty-six. We couldn't believe it. If someone had asked me I'd have said, "I don't know, 10 or 12." But 46? Crazy. All of them in the past two months, and probably 30 in the last three days in which we've ridden to the Towers twice, done Mullet three times, as well as Evo, Cheech and Chong, 911, Not Shawn's and a bunch of others. Bake had four days off from school and though the forecast called for rain and clouds, much of it didn't materialize so we turned it into a mountain bike training camp, as it were. Super fun.

Backing up, on Saturday, the day before Bake and I started our camp, I rode to the Towers with Glenn Gervais and Brian Wheeler, whom I met for the first time. (Real nice guy.) We rode to the Towers pedaling up trails I've previously only ridden down--Keystone, Naughty Nellie, Wonderland, etc. That was a super ride too, the last hour of which we enjoyed in pouring rain.

Kinda funny: somewhere on Wonderland, I heard Brian just behind me say, "Wo! Did you see that?" No, I didn't. Apparently, as I was riding a small bird landed on the trail just behind my front wheel but in front of my back wheel. (A moving space of about 18 inches.) I rode over its tail feathers just before the bird safely darted away, it leaving a few of its feathers on the trail. Both bird and rider are now resting comfortably.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

NUTTIN' SPECIAL REALLY

I'm taking a photography class so's I went out for a ride looking for stuff to photo. Up at Galbraith, I came across Upper Bob's and thought I'd photo the trailhead sign. (I don't think I noticed the Bob the Builder doll 'til I'd been up there a couple hundred times.) Below, please note and appreciate the genius behind the cloud-sculpture photo.
Came across Sean Hackney who was up there enjoying his first-ever mountain bike ride. He was going about it the right way too: getting muddy and having the time of his life.


He was riding with Daryl Smith (below) who I'm likely to employ starting in a couple months as my triathlon coach. Ironman Canada '09 will be my third IM and I'm itching to approach in a different way. If nothing else, to shake things up.

Speaking of shaking things up, what a Tuesday night, huh?

Sunday, November 02, 2008

HALLOWEEKEND

Friday, the boy Baker and friend Kyler took a gamble and went trick-and/or-treating as a pair of dice. We all had a great time. B'ham gets into Halloween, that's for sure, and the weather surprised all by being quite swell. (Forecast was for rain and wind, but 'twas a starry night.) That's Carrie (Kyler's ma), Jen, and Ed (Kyler's da) yucking it up over the boys in the boxes. (That's an Alice in Chains song, innit?)
Saturday was an epic mountain ride on Galbraith with John Clark and the venerable Steve Vanderstaay, he of the two a's in the row thing. To the Towers, Woopsie Woodle, through Padden and home. Three hours, lotta miles, lotta climbing. Above, the view of the Lake Samish basin from Woopsie Woodle. Below, Steve appears dismayed when John's narcolepsy kicks in.