Monday, October 29, 2012

Coffeeneuring Challenge, Part 4: Snoqualmie, WA

Saturday, 10/27/2012

It wasn't a "three dog night", but it was definitely a "three+ coffee day". The plan for the day was to a) connect a number of trails together, and b) hit three separate coffee shops.

The trails:

The coffee shops:

The ride, as planned, would be about 62 miles (right at 100 kilometers) and include a couple of sections I've never ridden before.

Also part of the plan: leave the house at 9:00am sharp. Naturally, I left shortly after 10:00am. So it goes.

The weather forecast was typical for this time of year (i.e. horrible): lows in the mid 40's, highs in the high 40's, and rain. Endless rain. All. Day. Long.

Such is life in the Pacific NorthWET. Some days it feels like I'm biking on the set of Blade Runner.

Leg #1: Home to Carnation

After finally detaching my ass from my desk chair, I donned my rain armor, readied the mountain bike, and hit the trail. A short road ride put me on the Tolt Pipeline Trail, which lead me east to a private road  (NE 133RD ST) that is allegedly a public right-of-way trail access, although it's not marked as such.

This seems to be a common theme in King County: public right-of-way trail access corridors that are completely unmarked and give the appearance of being private. Some day I need to make it a personal project to get documentation from the county and mark these, online if not IRL.

After slowly descending to the valley, losing a few millimeters from my brake pads (NE 133RD ST is notoriously steep, and on this day was covered in wet leaves) I made it to West Snoqualmie Valley Road. A short jaunt led me to the Snoqualmie Valley Trail.

After an hour or so of cycling and about 12 miles (I could already tell it was going to be a slow day) I arrived at the cute town of Carnation, WA. 

Dam[n] evacuation route

A few wrong turns later I was in Sandy's Espresso. I parked my bike, and tried (mostly successfully) to not leave a wet, muddy trail from the door to the counter. Coffee in hand, I was in my happy place.

I'm grateful & appreciative for hot coffee

Leg #2: Carnation to Snoqualmie

With body & soul warmed from the coffee, I pressed ever onward along the SVT towards Snoqualmie Falls. The SVT has an extremely gentle grade to the south -- maybe 0.5% -- but the mud, standing water, and think mat of wet leaves conspired to keep my average speed even lower than usual.

The other factor that slowed me down was my camera. All of those stops to take photos were not going to win me any Strava segments. To wit:

Pumpkin patch at Remlinger Farms:

Pumpkins in the mist

I usually use Adobe Lightroom to "gently massage" my photos before posting them to our Flickr account and including them in this blog. The following photo is, however, raw -- unmodified, straight out of the camera:

Like something from a Tim Burton movie

I wonder why Washington is called "The Evergreen State"?

Unreal shades of green

Despite the rain, it was a great day to ride the trail. I love the sound of leaves crunching under my tires (although, when fully saturated, they "squish" more than "crunch").

Cycling on a wet fall day

We're probably just about due for a big windstorm to come through here and strip the deciduous trees of their remaining leaves.

Beautiful fall foliage

Finally made it to Snoqualmie Falls.

Snoqualmie Falls

The view made famous in the introduction to the Twin Peaks TV series back in the early 1990's.

Searching for the ghost of Laura Palmer

Cold, wet, a little hungry, and tired (after the climb up to Snoqualmie Ridge) I arrived at SnoValley Coffee. My camera's lens was still a little foggy from photographing the waterfall, but I like the effect:

Dream sequence

I don't normally drink lattes (I'm more of an Americano guy) but I ordered one because they photograph better. Yes, I threw myself on the large double-shot latte hand grenade.

Leg #3: Snoqualmie to Issaquah Home

"Press on regardless!" -- my usual battle cry for long bike rides.

With an excellent latte and some snacks in my bellah, it was time to press on towards Issaquah. This was the one part of the ride that was truly new to me. It appeared (from Google Maps) that I could hop on a gravel road which would connect me with Lake Alice. Thankfully, Google Maps didn't disappoint. 

Lake Alice

After a pleasant ride through the neighborhood surrounding Lake Alice, I joined the Preston Snoqualmie Trail. After a mile or two, the trail drops down an abyss to Preston-Fall City Road.

They're serious about this!

Look carefully; there are six very tight switchbacks as the trail descends to the main road. I took the sign's advice and walked down.

Count the switchbacks

Crossing the (not so much at this time) Raging River.

Mossy stone bridge

Signs warned of bear activity. I was expecting to find the bears in an organized 5K, or maybe square-bear dancing, but no joy.

No bears today

After descending to the town of Issaquah, I discovered that the needed portion of the East Lake Samammish Trail was closed for repairs. I've read rumors that they're paving the trail. I hope it's only a rumor. Anyway, the day was getting long, I wanted to get home before dark, and I didn't feel like fighting traffic, so I bypassed the Issaquah Coffee Company stop. Maybe next weekend?

Sadness :(

I headed northbound on East Lake Sammamish Parkway until I passed the construction area, then found a suitable entrance to the soft-surfaced trail. An easy cruise along the trail led me to Marymoor Park in Redmond, which eventually led me to the Sammamish River Trail.

Just before reaching the Tolt Pipeline Trail (again), I stopped for a caffeine fix. There was no espresso stand in sight, but one improvises when one has to.

Emergency coffeeneuring supplies

It was time to face Heart Attack Hill. I usually try to ride up it as fast as possible (with "fast" being a relative term), but not today. My legs were cooked, so I did the walk of shame up the hill.

My nemesis

After cresting Hollywood Hill, and the next (English Hill), I was almost home.

View east from English Hill

Eventually, I made it home, and I did have that third coffee -- made with love by my wife Kasia. Riding for coffee is always fun, but the best is always at home.


62.9 miles
2621 feet elevation gain
10.8 moving mph

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